Sailing and Boating Near Guadeloupe

Sailors in the Caribbean need not cross the Atlantic to visit France

Photo credit: © Philippehalle |

Located at the bottom of the Leeward Islands just above the Windward Islands, Guadeloupe is an accessible cruising destination in the Caribbean. Guadeloupe has up-to-date yachting facilities and several ports of entry. Travelers can also explore a number of the small outlying islands while cruising the area.

Sailing and Environmental Concerns

Fishing hooks are limited in the waters of Guadeloupe, and harpoons, nets, artificial lights, and lobsterpots are also prohibited. Conch, sea turtles, corals, sponges, and sea plants are all protected. Lobsters and white sea urchins may only be gathered during certain periods of the year. Marine reserves are located at Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, Petite-Terre, Banc du Crabier, and Ilet Pigeon.

Sailors should exercise extreme caution when navigating coral reef laden waters in Guadeloupe. Strong trade winds can also be cause for navigational concern. Guadeloupe uses the B buoy system used in the Americas. Red markers should be kept on the starboard side of the boat, green on the port side. Chartering a Yacht

When chartering a yacht, take the time to carefully consider all that is involved, as you will be responsible for the care and upkeep of a very expensive piece of equipment. Travelers should familiarize themselves with charter companies and charter brokers before beginning the chartering process.

Charter companies own the fleets of boats that travelers will charter. These companies are divided by size and tier. Charter company size is directly related to the size, or number of boats, in the fleet. Large charter companies will possess a sizable fleet of boats, and be able to offer benefits such as boat replacement in the event of a boat becoming unavailable. Small companies, which may emphasize a strong commitment to customer service, maintain a smaller fleet of vessels.

Both large and small companies can be either a first or second tier charter company. Tier is directly related to the age of the boats in a fleet. First tier charter companies have a fleet of boats that are less than five years old. These boats are generally in excellent condition and are equipped with the newest and most advanced amenities and technologies. Second tier companies often buy boats older than five years of age from first tier companies.

Charter brokers act on behalf of the yacht charterer to find a yacht and crew (if needed) that will be suitable for the charterers. Charter brokers are very similar to travel agents, and will attempt to find the type of boat, crew, and charter experience that will meet the wishes of the traveler. Brokers will look for amenities and locations that charterers are interested in, and can help find a crew that will be compatible with the sailing party. Charter brokers are compensated by yacht owners and companies, meaning travelers can use their services without a fee. The Charter Yacht Broker's Association can be contacted at 866-901-2922.

Many vacationers who decide to charter a yacht in the Caribbean will do some from locations in Florida or the Virgin Islands. Other islands in the Caribbean, including Guadeloupe, may also have charter companies.

If you're simply wanting to enjoy a few hours on the open water, without the stress and cost of sailing on your own you should take a day sailing excursion. See the chart that follows to find contact information for area excursion services.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location Island
Azimut Croisiere (069) 041-8808 Baie-Mahault Grande-Terre
Bleu Blanc Vert (069) 063-8243 Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
Blue Lagoon (069) 034-9969 Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
Coco Mambo (059) 047-8841 Boulevard Maritime - Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
Gwadaventure (069) 099-6954 Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
Keila Yacht (069) 040-2660 Deshaies Basse-Terre
Le Nautilus (059) 098-7034 Plage de la Malendure - 11.9 mi. (19.2 km) North-Northwest of Basse Terre Basse-Terre
No Limit Excursions (069) 065-5760 Saint-Francois Grande-Terre
Paradoxe Croisieres (059) 088-4173 Saint-Francois Grande-Terre
Whale Watching Guadeloupe (069) 030-0991 Rocher de Malendure - 1.7 mi. (2.7 km) South of Basse Terre Basse-Terre

Boat Rentals and Charters

Travelers who have some sailing experience, but aren't quite ready to take on the complete responsibility of a vessel, may wish to look into a skippered bareboat. A freelance skipper will be assigned to the boat for a few days or for the whole journey in order to guide travelers through sailing in the area. Typically, these skippers will have extensive knowledge of sailing in the area and can give advice on winds, currents, and reefs. Daily rates for skippers run from $80(USD) to $120(USD), and travelers must also provide food for the skipper.

Finally, for those with little or no sailing experience, the charter of a fully crewed yacht can be arranged. This type of charter gives travelers every opportunity to relax and enjoy their ocean experience without the worry of sailing. Vacationers can simply spend a day relaxing on the deck or venture into the ocean to scuba dive or sea kayak. These charters will come with a captain and often a cook to prepare the meals. Some crews and captains will allow inquisitive travelers to assist in a number of supervised basic sailing tasks. While the itinerary can be discussed between the captain and travelers, the captain of a crewed charter has ultimate control and will not jeopardize the safety of the boat or its passengers. These captains and crews survive off of their tips, and vacationers should leave a tip of 10 to 15 percent.

If you're considering the option of a charter boat, you can contact one of these firms:

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location Island
Antilles Sail (059) 090-1681 Marina Bas-du-Fort - Bas-du-Fort Grande-Terre
Coco Mambo (069) 035-9206 Boulevard Maritime - Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
Corail Caraibes (059) 091-9313 Marina Bas-du-Fort - Bas-du-Fort Grande-Terre
Excursion Guadeloupe (069) 074-8057 93 Impasse Du Poisson Chirurgien - Ste. Anne Grande-Terre
Gwada Loisirs Boats (059) 084-5213 Saint-Francois Grande-Terre
Karuloc (069) 043-8438 Marina Bas-du-Fort - Bas-du-Fort Grande-Terre
Liberti'Boat (059) 048-5201 Port de Morne Rouge - Basse-Terre Basse-Terre
Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (068) 269-3813 Anse a la Barque - Vieux Habitants Basse-Terre
Nico Excursions (069) 053-0965 Ste. Rose Basse-Terre
PPK Plongee (059) 098-8243 Plage de Malendure - Bouillante Basse-Terre
Rêve de Nav’ (069) 091-1100 Petit-Bourg Grande-Terre
Sea & Sail (059) 083-0998 Downtown Pointe A Pitre Grande-Terre
TAO Charter (059) 088-0517 23 Poirier de Gissac - Ste. Anne Grande-Terre

Bareboats are for experienced sailors who have spent years navigating and sailing, and who ideally have experience in the waters of the Caribbean. These boats, without captain or crew, are the complete responsibility of the charterer. With the waters of the Caribbean made hazardous by coral reefs, rocks, and strong trade winds, only the seasoned sailor should attempt to sail in the region. Charter companies will require proof of the training and experience that is needed to navigate the area. These boats are so appealing because they put travelers in charge of their own vessel on the open ocean. For many sailors, this experience is an invigorating and intoxicating feeling that can not be duplicated.


Varying ports in Guadeloupe offer journeying yachters and sailors different experiences of the island. Travelers who call on the Marina Bas-du-Fort in Point-à-Pitre, Grand-Terre, are calling on an island that has significant development, including resorts, shopping, and fine dining. Travelers who call on Deshais or the marina of Rivière Sens on Basse-Terre will find an island that is less developed, with exciting opportunities for eco-tourism and adventure. Iles des Saintes and Marie-Galante lie south of the butterfly shaped Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre, and can offer a quiet and secluded retreat. Of course, the wonder of Guadeloupe is that travelers can easily cruise to all of these islands during their visit. The contact information for the primary Port Authority in Guadeloupe is:

The Central Office of Maritime Security in the Antilles (coast guard) can be reached on VHF Channel 16.

Considering the option of traveling to Guadeloupe using your own boat, or one you charter elsewhere? Take a look at the chart below for basic information for marinas in the area.

Name Phone Location Island
Goyave Marina -- Goyave Basse-Terre
Grand Bourg Port Marina -- Grand-Bourg Marie-Galante
Marie Galante Marina -- Marie-Galante Marie-Galante
Marina Bas-du-Fort -- Pointe A Pitre Grande-Terre
Marina Pointe-a-Pitre -- Le Mole Portuaire - Bas-du-Fort Grande-Terre
Marina Riviere Sens (059) 086-7943 Route D6 - 1.8 mi. (2.9 km) South of Basse Terre Basse-Terre
Petite Bourg Marina -- Petit-Bourg Grande-Terre
Port de Morne Rouge -- Basse-Terre Basse-Terre
Port de Peche de St. Felix -- 5.4 mi. (8.7 km) Southeast of Pointe A Pitre Grande-Terre
Port de Pêche -- 97116 Pointe Noire - Downtown St. Francois Grande-Terre
Port-Louis Marina -- Port-Louis Grande-Terre
Sainte-Anne Marina -- Ste. Anne Grande-Terre
Trois Rivieres Marina -- Trois-Rivieres Basse-Terre
YCSF La Marina (069) 050-8515 Saint-Francois Grande-Terre

All ships must fly the quarantine (Q) flag upon entering the port, and the master must proceed ashore to clear with customs and immigration officials. Taxes and fees at port will vary. Masters must present valid passports for all crew and passengers, and visitors traveling from the United States, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway may stay in the country for tourism purposes without a visa for up to three months. Citizens of other countries may require a visa. Customs and immigration officials will also need to see the original boat registration, as well as clearance papers and motorboat licenses (if applicable). Boats must be equipped with security equipment, and masters should have invoices for recently added equipment or goods. All firearms must be declared with customs. Animals require proper health certificates in order to travel to Guadeloupe.

Nearby Anchorages
Location Latitude Longitude
Off Terre-de-Bas - Guadeloupe 16.1731019515 -61.1090254784
La Desirade Harbour - Desirade Island 16.3021620448 -61.0727834702

Prospective charterers are required to make several decisions during the yacht chartering process. These decisions can affect the quality and course of a trip, and vacationers should carefully consider their options.

The most popular tourist travel season in the Caribbean is from mid-December to mid-April, when the weather in the region is the most agreeable. Because Guadeloupe and the Leeward Islands are subject to Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms in the hurricane season of June to November, travelers should certainly consider weather and time of year in their decision making. Travelers should next consider the length of their trip and the itinerary. Some private yacht owners make plans to cruise the region for more than a year! While those who charter a yacht will generally take shorter excursions, some travelers may want to plan trips that allow time to visit a number of island while cruising the region. Other travelers may wish to take a short excursion from a single island. Scuba diving activities or fishing may also influence the itinerary of a trip.

While a list of amenities such as scuba diving equipment, sea kayaks, cell phones, fishing equipment, and other items will be important to trip planning, travelers should put considerable thought into a list of essential supplies and food. Charter companies can stock boats with food at the cost of about $25(USD) per person per day, or travelers can save money by stocking their own food. Some ports or small islands may not have food supplies readily available, however, and travelers may want to plan on stopping at popular ports and marinas when supplies run low. Customs may also bar certain foods from being imported onto the island. First aid and other medicinal supplies are also essential for an ocean journey. Travelers should remember that ports assess fees and taxes based on the size of a ship and duration of the stay, and this may affect charterers' itinerary and decisions.

Boat type is an important consideration that should be based largely on the size, experience, and wishes of the traveling party. Monohull boats provide a more traditional sailing experience by rocking about considerably in the waters of the Caribbean. The techniques for sailing and tackling on these boats will differ from the other type of boat, a catamaran. Catamarans are suited for families or large groups of travelers, and prevent seasickness by not rolling at anchor. These boats typically have a number of soundproof cabins and bathrooms. Small boats may have two or three bedrooms with two or three baths, while 45-foot catamarans will typically have four ensuite rooms.

The experience of visiting a number of Caribbean islands while cruising on board a sailing vessel is an unrivaled travel experience that many find both calming and invigorating. Guadeloupe offers sailors a number of ports and experiences to enjoy during their travels.


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