Renting a car can be one of the most cost efficient way to tour Guadeloupe while on vacation. Potential drivers should keep in mind, however, that driving conditions in Guadeloupe can be hazardous. Travelers should exercise extreme caution while on the road.
Buses in Guadeloupe are a cost effective way to get around the larger cities on the island, while taxis are a great option to use occasionally, like from the airport to your hotel, or when you need to be somewhere at a specific time. But, many people prefer to skip public transportation all together and take matters into their own hands.
Driving in Guadeloupe is done on the right hand side of the road, as in France. Symbols and road signs used in France and Europe are also used in Guadeloupe. Vacationers need a valid driver's license from their home country in order to legally drive in Guadeloupe for up to 20 days. To legally drive after this initial period, travelers must secure an international driver's permit. The legal driving age in France and its territories is 18, although many rental car companies require drivers to be at least 25 years of age and have two years of driving experience. Seat belts are required by law, and children under the age of 12 are not permitted to travel in the front seats of vehicles. Police do enforce traffic safety laws.
The mainland areas of Guadeloupe, made up of Grand-Terre and Basse-Terre, offer much to explore and navigate. Most of the roads in Guadeloupe are maintained and in fairly good condition. The island has an expressway, and main roads are paved and marked. Other roads do not tend to be as well marked, so travelers may choose to invest in a map as a safety measure.
In Basse-Terre, where the terrain is less developed, roads can become mountainous and have sharp turns that make driving especially dangerous. Nighttime driving should be avoided, particularly in these mountainous areas, as roads may not be lit or marked.
It is important to drive defensively and exercise extreme caution when navigating the roads in any foreign country. Driving conditions in Guadeloupe can be faster and more aggressive than what many travelers are accustomed to. Pedestrians may attempt to jump in a car that stops to ask for directions.
Although driving in Guadeloupe can be an adventurous experience, visitors should drive defensively and avoid nighttime driving to help keep themselves safe.
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