by - 09:38

Budget: 2300€ (760€ Flights Air France; 500€ Air BnB; 770€ Car Rent; 300€ Activities, Food)
Duration: 5 Days (6Nights)
Travel Time: End of December (still a lot of rain, but only on Basse Terre. I met People on my flight back, that said it hadn't rained in 3 weeks on Grand-Terre)

This trip at the end of the year was all about calming down and finding my inner peace again. Usually people go to Asia or Bali to do so, but the caribbean is quite a nice winter escape as well.
Guadeloupe is the first Island on the western hemisphere, that I visited and I had absolutely no clue, what was waiting for me. Having watched all the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies, I was still not prepared for what I found.
My very first impression was: it's huge! Normally I always plan a lot in advance, but this time -i had booked my flights and air bnb around 4 month before, because it was quite a cheap deal (at that Point I didn't know, that one has to rent a car)

How to get around:
1 month before, when i actually started to plan a bit more of the details, i realised there is absolutely no way to get around without a Car (and a car was a cost i did not calculate. It is indeed very expensive for only 1 Person.
Even if you have a car, you have to travel at least 30min to get around. From one end to another it takes around 2,5 hours. The driving style of the locals and the mostly narrow and curvy serpentine streets with steep inclines make it quite an adventurous ride. Especially if you are too young to rent a car with more ps, you will struggle to keep a higher pace then 20k/h on some roads. Also heavy rains can suprise you from time to time and at night a jungle tour can be quite scaring.

Where to stay:

Guadeloupe consists of 2 parts, forming the butterfly shape together. While Basse-Terre, the western part is local and really calm, the easten Side Grand-Terre is very crowded and flooded by tourists. I stayed in an air bnb with a local family, that are renting out 2 flats in their house. Jean-Louis and Veronique are very lovely people and welcome you warm. The apartment is of course very basic, but offers everything one needs. In the night you can hear all animals in the jungle and a dip in the pool is a lovely refreshment any time. If you need a real retreat, i can recommend this place or any other around Basse-Terre.

Where to eat:
Having quite some bad experience with eating in tropical countries, i decided this time to cook myself. Since i had an apartment equipped with kitchen and french supermarkets around the corner, it was pretty easy. Nevertheless always buy local products at the supermarket, to support the area. I can really recommend the melons and avocados, such a big difference to ours in Europe.
Generally the island is famous for it's seafood, so you will find plenty of restaurants offering lobsters and crabs. Actually they will also be sold to you on the street, still living if you like. So you can even cook your own sea monster at home.

What to do:
There are three main activities, that the island is famous for. Generally the populatin is rather small and towns are tiny. There are some little churches, some small markets, but personally i missed a bit of culture.

Beaches Tere are loads of nice beaches on Guadeloupe, while i have only one favourite, which i visited several times, although it took me over an hour by car to get here. There were absolutely no stones, shells or anything else than yellow sand. The waves on that shore were actually quite high, but with a water temperature of 28°c one could not resist to play in the waves. I have visited some beaches on Grand-Terre one day, of which all were very crowded. Additional there were loads of wild dogs in that region as well, which didn't make the sunbathing as relaxing and pleasant.

Hiking Guadeloupe's western part Basse-Terre is famous for it's rich forests and hiking tracks. Also there are several waterfalls to see. Nonetheless it takes some effort to get to them. The Chutes-Du-Carbet is a formation of 3 Waterfalls, from which the highest and first one is directly coming from the Volcano la Souffrière. I would recommend to do the third on one day to warm up and the 2nd and 3rd on another day, since you should be really fit for this. I have been exercising all my life, a lot in december and still tropical hiking for some hours made my legs turn into pudding.
Due to the hurricane Maria, that hit Guadeloupe in September, big parts of the forest were quite insecure and the path was generally flooded and muddy. I would recommend proper hiking shoes, if i would ever go again.

To hike the volcano and reach its Peak "La Decouverte" of 1467m, one needs a very strong will and even more energy. The very top is mostly covered in clouds and dust, so i could not even see the crater when i finally reached the top after 2h. It was also freezing cold, due to monsoon rains and such a strong wind, that i almost got blown away (and yes it smells like rotten eggs)
Hiking on Guadeloupe is a serious thing and not some walk in the jungle. If you decide to go, take loads of water, warm clothes and a rain jacket, as well as snacks and energy bars with you. Wear good and stable shoes, (some people seriously wore ballerinas or flip flops)

Pointe des Châteaux This landmark and eastern outer edge of the island offers the most fantastic view over Guadeloupe Island. On a clear day, you will see the lush forest greens and beaches, combined with the turquoise water in the most beautiful way. On the road to that point, you will pass a lot of tiny cute local shops and "La Douche" a rocky natural fountain.

Diving Around Guadeloupe there are several amazing diving and snorkeling sides. Especially the western coast is spread with different diving centers and watersport activities. I went diving with Infini Plongee and it was a real pleasure to dive with Stephane and Fanny, the two owners of the place. It was very close to my air bnb, but also they are connected to SSI and offer an equipped dive for 40€.

Parc de Mamelles There are several Botanical Gardens on Guadeloupe, so i visited 2 of them. The botanical Garden in Deshaies was to be honest a disappointment. It was quite expensive, 15,90€ for some trees and plants to look at, was too much for me.
The zoo of Guadeloupe, called Parc de Mamelles charges a fee of 14,90€ and offers a lot more. There are many different animals shown on a guided track through the rainforest. Also one can explore the most fantastic view high up in the trees on some high rope courses.

La maison du Cacao There is a cocoa plantage in Pointe-Noire, that you should not miss out on. It is a rather small area, but there is a guidance and plenty of explanations about the original chocolate. The best part of the 7€ tour is the presentation in art of making chocolate, by a local (also in english) and the tasting afterwards. They will offer you plenty different sweet treats.

Visit a Distillery Guadeloupe is as the caribbean famous for it's rhum. I wanted to visit the Rhum Bologne Distillery, which was unfortunately closed between christmas and new years. Nevertheless they have a big shop, where you can get high quality old rum at a bargain price.

Allée Dumanoir this alley by the sea is surrounded by Palm trees and gives you some californian feeling. As it is close to the Highway, you will pass by eventually, since let alone it is not worth a trip to come here.

Good to know:
Guadeloupe belongs to french territory, thence it is a european oversea department. You can  pay with euro, which is quite convenient. The official language is french and french only. People speak creol (a dialect), although they will understand your french as well. You will not get far here with english, so either refresh your school french or try to have a dictionnary with you.
When filling up petrol at an unmanned station, which is possible thanks to card payment the company will block an amount of 100€ on your card when paying with debit. When they afterwards charge you the actual amount you bought, this amount will be unblocked again, but it can take up to a week.
People are generally friendly and quite helpful, nevertheless i felt still a barrier. There has been a long brutal history in slavery, that people will not forget. Still some locals see white people as an enemy. Therefore i would not recommend being outside after nightfall.

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