Planning a trip to Guadeloupe? Wondering when to go, what there is to see and how to plan your time. This collection of beautiful islands in the Caribbeans sure has a lot to offer, so here is a guide to help you plan you visit.
OVERVIEW OF THE GUADELOUPE ISLANDS
Guadeloupe is one of the many group of islands in the Caribbeans. It is located between Barbuda and Dominica. Its islands include:
Grande Terre is the east wing of the butterfly. It is a flat land, great for sugar cane plantations.
Its beaches are mostly white sand with beautiful turquoise waters.
Grande Terre is rich in hotels and restaurant as well as entertainement facilities.
Its is also home to famous natural sites such as Castles Headland
Basse-Terre is a montainous island which culminates at 1467 meters, at the top of the volcano La Soufrière. It is the west wing of the butterfly.
This island is mostly covered by tropical rainforest with many hiking options, especially to the Carbet falls (and no poisonous animals...)
Beaches comes in various shapes and colors: pebbles, sand, white, black, ocher, pink...
It is a nature lover paradise with, among others, the Cousteau reserve and the 'Parc des mamelles'.
Famous for its beautiful bays with turquoise water, Les Saintes are small islands where you can enjoy a leisury stroll or hike, the history or the fishing heritage.
Many ferries from Basse Terre
Small islands that can only be visited during the day, a nature reserve home of iguanas, turtles, baby lemon sharks and much more marine fauna was well as a great diversty in the fauna.
Group or private day tours via catamaran or speed boat.
43km from Pointe-à-Pitre is Marie-Galante (Aïchi). It is a 158 km2 rond island famous for its sugar cane and windmills. A great place to be transported back to older farming times or enjoy some of the best white sand beaches in the Carribeans.
Many ferries from Basse Terre and Pointe A Pitre
8km from the Castle's Headlands is the 11km long island of La Désirade where you can enjoy calm, simplicity and authenticity. Swimmers will enjoy beautiful white sand beaches protected by coral reefs. This islands remains mostly wild and is another nature lover paradise
Via ferry from Saint François (45min) or via plane from the airport (15min)
Find out more about many Guadeloupe destinations on the online travel guide: with many photos, info and tips!
BEST TIME TO VISIT GUADELOUPE
Most tourists invade Guadeloupe during the dry season. And as most visitors come from France they all try escaping the mainland winter between December and March.
December - January - February - March - April ****
- Best weather - dry season, not too hot
- February has the carneval
- Touristic months - some beaches are crowded
- Expansive period
May & November
- Cheaper shoulder season
- Less tourist
- Some rain and humidity
July - August - September-October-November
- Far less tourists
- Wet season - hurricanes
TIME NEEDED TO TRAVEL AROUND
Below are some notions to consider before planning all the activities of your trip
- Distances / Transportation time: The islands look small but driving around actually takes a lot of time as the main roads have only one lane in each directions. Everyone go through the bottleneck of Pointe-à-pitre between both islands. Before 9am and after 5pm expect the worst traffic jams
- To reduce transportation time I recommend staying part of your holiday in Basse Terre and another part in Grande Terre and do the activities and locations on each side when you are there
- Daylight: sunset is at roughly 6:30PM in May and as early as 17:30 in November. So days are shorts!
This is the most common options. Many companies have new and used cars. And most resorts have even a rental office in their building at some hours.
Driving and navigation is not too complex. Driving is on the right side like in France.
There are pros and cons and good and bad reviews of many renters. I let you review and choose. I used Hertz from our hotel in Gosier and was satisfied.
Do not worry, this is not a typical road, our tour guide took us through a banana plantation. Main roads are in good conditions 🙂
There are so many day tours to choose from. Book in advance or check on arrival at your hotel or at the Tourist office. This could easily fill in all your time there but then you need a bigger budget.
Good luck... schedules are flexible 🙂
Should you decide to use taxis to go around, considered shared minivans to reduce the costs. But in anycase, book it in advance. There are not that many and they stop early. We almost got stuck in Saint François after coming back from our catamaran trip to Petite Terre.
To visit Marie-Galante or Les Saintes, you can either take a ferry (for example ValFerry) or an organised tour.
ACCOMODATION ON THE ISLANDS
Full on resort or rentals, many options are available. It really depends on your travel style
No campsite but wild camping is tolerated
Nothing special to mention here. Except as I said earlier, I recommend booking part of your time in a place on Basse Terre and the rest of your trip in a place on Grande Terre
When it is getting closer to leave for your amazing trip, you can also check my post on preparing and packing for a trip to Guadeloupe!
Want to see MORE of GUADELOUPE?
Discover more things to do with planning information and photos in my online Guadeloupe Travel Guide.
Leave a comment if you have any question