Among all the islands of the Caribbean, there are a few that deserve a stop: the islands of Guadeloupe.
If you are looking for an exotic destination, warm all year round, a turquoise sea, varied and easily accessible landscapes, Guadeloupe will offer you much more thanks to its multiple possibilities of hikes, excursions, and its Creole cuisine that everyone loves.
If you are travelling with young children, this is one of the few tropical destinations equipped with the best hospital services, which is quite reassuring.
The only drawback may be the accommodation, which is not up to Mauritius’ standard in terms of service. There is only one 5* hotel in the island and most of the 3* would rather be classified as 2* by demanding travellers.
But Caribbean nonchalance, if you accept it, will greatly contribute to the success of your holiday.
Guadeloupe is not only an island, it is first of all an archipelago. Each of the islands that make it up will seduce you in a different way. One by its magnificent beaches, the other by its gentle way of life or some by their breathtaking seabed. A destination to be discovered with the whole family at only a 9-hour flight from Switzerland.
When to leave ?
All year round!!!
If you are afraid of the heat, prefer November, which is in low season and very attractive for your budget. However, be careful in September-October, a period of cyclones that could tarnish your stay. Luckily they do not occur every year.
This small town of 17,000 inhabitants is part of the “Riviera” of the islands of Guadeloupe. Protected by a beautiful turquoise lagoon, it is ideally situated for excursions around the island, or to take advantage of the trade winds at sunset.
From small simple accommodation to waterfront bungalows, its shallow lagoon beach is ideal for families with children. Many small restaurants along the harbour in the evenings will delight your taste buds with their grilled lobsters and local specialities.
The “route des 2 mamelles”
This pretty road (d23) which starts from Pointe à Pitre and connects the west of Basse Terre, at the level of Malendure beach, is just magnificent.
Not to be missed: a swim in the rather refreshing crayfish waterfall or the Zoo of the Parc des mamelles, which takes you into the middle of the forest on wooden footbridges to discover the fauna and flora of the archipelago.
The “pointe des châteaux”
Situated at the eastern end of the island, the cape of the castles is not only an excursion with a beautiful view. It is also the starting point of several small paths leading to beautiful wild beaches with multicoloured seabeds. Some of the beaches are nudist, which is good for nudists, but for the uninitiated with children it may be bit surprising.
L’Anse Laborde beach
Just next to Anse Bertrand (beautiful but a little too crowded for our taste), you have a little wilder beach. You will find there very nice seabeds and some local restaurants with their feet in the sand…
On Basse Terre the climate is somewhat different. More tropical and humid, this village full of charm and authenticity is on the edge of a magnificent beach of volcanic sand.
Beware the absence of a coral reef can make swimming complicated if the wind gets up. Many small local restaurants with traditional cuisine will delight your taste buds.
Not to be missed: a visit to the old Coluche house which has been transformed into a botanical garden.
For lovers of hiking, the volcano is well deserved. You have to be on the lookout for the weather and leave early to get a clear view of the summit and the crater.
Situated at an altitude of 1467 meters, the ascent was complicated by the last earthquake which destroyed the access road. But it is always very interesting to be able to climb the “living” slopes of a still active volcano with its sulphurous or hot spring fragrances.
Remember to take good shoes and rain gear because the climate is sometimes capricious on the sides of the volcano.
Too well known by Laurent Voulzy’s song, Marie Galante is a small paradise for those who are looking for a quiet and peaceful place.
There are two ways to visit the island: either you arrive by boat for the day with the stream of tourists just circling the island, or you stay for at least one or two nights on site to enjoy this true journey through time. This is the Guadeloupe of 50 years ago. Ideally a longer stay in a small local hotel or in a villa for rent will guarantee you a true paradisiacal retreat.
A very pretty little archipelago which, as for Marie Galante, can be visited either by the day or over a few days to fully enjoy it.
The main island can be visited by bike, on foot or by scooter.
For the bravest, a magnificent Napoleonic fort can be visited at the summit, where indigenous iguanas are sure to surprise you. The beaches are superb and the seabed exceptional, especially for those who love to snorkel.
The evenings are divine once the tourists are gone, imagine yourself at sunset, a Ti’ponch in your hand, watching the majestic pelicans fishing in the bay.
Classified as a protected natural park, only one of the two islands can be visited. To do so, only a few privileged people offer this excursion by fast boat or catamaran, so it is necessary to book early enough.
Refuge of a preserved fauna, you will be able to see some of the 10 000 iguanas of the Lesser Antilles, also called West Indian iguanas.
You will also be able to discover other species of lizards including the Anolis and the famous Mabouya (a very rare species in Guadeloupe). The hermit crab, mascot of the island, is also very present on the spot.
On the seaside, in addition to turtles, the waters of the lagoon are home to many species of fish including the Fire Parrot, Angel Fish, Black Surgeon, Colas, Thin-tailed Cardinalfish, Mounted Chest, Trumpet Fish, Stingray and Leopard Skate. Lobsters, Lemon Sharks and Bottlenose Dolphins also populate the seabed of the reserve.
Petite-Terre is the refuge for nearly 150 species of birds. The population is divided between sedentary birds such as the American Oystercatcher, the Yellow Warbler and the Yellow-bellied Sugarplum, which you will see in great numbers on the island, and migratory birds: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Moorhen, Little Tern and Ring-necked Turnstone.
A must-do excursion!
Hôtel*** le rayon vert
A charming small family 3* hotel in Deshaies composed of individual bungalows overlooking the sea. It is above all an excellent table and a “like at home” welcome. No private beach, so a car is essential, but if you want to feel at home and let your children frolic around safely, this is the perfect place!