Guadeloupe mixes the best of France – a fully modern infrastructure and fantastic food – with a local culture that people here are proud of and want to share. Guadeloupe’s two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly and are joined together by a mangrove swamp. Grande-Terre, the eastern wing of the island, has a string of beach towns that offer visitors every variety of fun in the sun known to humankind. From surfing schools to beach bars to long stretches of beautiful sand where azure water laps at the toes of French mademoiselles, it’s all here.
Basse-Terre, the western wing, is home to the national park, crowned by La Soufrière volcano. Hiking trails and a Jacques Cousteau underwater reserve offer adventure for those who want more go than slow in their holidays. But for the gourmets and sun worshippers there are still plenty of places to recharge while everyone else tires themselves out. South of the butterfly-shaped ‘mainland’ of Guadeloupe are a number of small archipelagos that give a taste of Guadeloupe’s yesteryear. Ranging from sheer chill on La Désirade to the cosmopolitan Terre-de-Haut and the largely rural Marie-Galante, the smaller islands each have their own character and round out the long list of ingredients that make Guadeloupe.
While it’s one of the more developed islands in the Caribbean – those arriving at the thoroughly modern airport might be in for a shock if they were expecting a rural airstrip – there are still plenty of rural patches between villages and you won’t want for choice.
Best places to stay in Guadeloupe
Caribbean Islands travel guide
With amazing culture, beaches, activities and weather - not to mention the rum - the Caribbean is a joyous riot of islands offering the ultimate escape.
Caribbean Islands - Guadeloupe (Chapter)
Grande-Terre, the eastern of the two islands, has a string of beach towns that offer visitors marvelous stretches of sand to laze on and plenty of activities, while mountainous Basse-Terre, the western of the two, is home to the wonderful Guadeloupe National Park, which is crowned by the spectacular La Soufrière volcano.