Why Not Go to Guadeloupe?

Guadeloupe offers visitors a taste of European lifestyle in the middle of the Caribbean

Photo credit: © Guillaume C.

Why Not Go to Guadeloupe?

A trip to Guadeloupe is a unique cultural experience worth looking into. As an overseas region of France (the first, in fact), Francophone heritage is as important and prevalent as the Caribbean lifestyle one might expect.

Guadeloupe: Facts at a Glance
Currency As a territory of France, Guadeloupe uses the Euro.
Electricity Guadeloupe uses the 220-volt electrical system, so be sure to bring adapters if you need them.
GDP Per Capita The average annual per capita income is about $9,000(USD).
Island Size The land mass of these islands covers about 687.3 square miles
Language As part of France, the official language of Guadeloupe is French; Creole is prevalent across the island, and English is spoken only in tourist areas.
Population Guadeloupe is home to about 405,500 people, and sees about 773,000 visitors annually, 12 percent of whom are from the U.S.
Entry Requirements For French citizens, a valid ID or passport is required for entry into Guadeloupe. All other individuals, even those traveling from neighboring Caribbean countries, must have a valid passport and return or on-going ticket.

Geography and Weather

About 200 miles north of Martinique, another overseas region of France, Guadeloupe is part of the Lesser Antilles realm of the Caribbean. Nine inhabited islands make up the nation, with a combined total of 628.6 square miles in land. The two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre are separated from one another by the narrow Salt River. While Grande-Terre is comprised mostly of limestone, many of Guadeloupe's other islands are volcanic in origin; the still-active La Soufrière is located on Basse-Terre.

As a people, Guadeloupians are generally satisfied with their national status as a territory of France. In fact, only a very small percentage of Guadeloupians feel the need for independence. Notably, Guadeloupe is economically reliant on France in the same way individual states are reliant on the U.S. federal government; Guadeloupe could not meet the needs of its population without help from the French national government in such areas as health care and education. In fact, unlike many poorer Caribbean nations, Guadeloupe advocates for education, and children between the age of 6 and 17 are required to attend school. Many students pursue higher education opportunities in France, which is economically feasible solely due to Guadeloupe's national status. Guadeloupe is home to a College of Education, a law school, and a science school, and has a 90 percent literacy rate.

Guadeloupe has a tropical climate characterized by sunny days that are cooled by steady trade winds. Average temperatures range from a low of 72 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 82, and the islands receive a total of approximately 70 inches of rain each year. For more information about annual rainfall, click here.

Around the Island

...the sand is powder white and the surf is typically gentle...

As is to be expected of a Caribbean island, Guadeloupe's beaches are its most popular attractions. While most of the beaches are lacking in facilities such as showers, and public restrooms, the ocean waters are calm and allow for relaxed swimming. Top beaches in Guadeloupe are located in the Grand-Terre Riviera, where the sand is powder white and the surf is typically gentle enough for everyone to enjoy.

Water sports are an excellent way to spend some of your vacation time in Guadeloupe, particularly scuba diving. The calm waters are perfect for beginning divers, but the real draw for divers in Guadeloupe is the underwater national park, La Réserve Costeau. No fishing is allowed in the area, in order to protect the marine life that inhabits the rigorously protected reserve. Though no fishing is allowed around the reserve, deep sea fishing is a popular sport at other locations off the coast of Guadeloupe, and other water bound activities you may look into are snorkeling, wind surfing, and jet skiing.

A day away from the beaches can be spent touring various natural and cultural attractions. Some such places include several waterfalls and gardens, La Soufrière Volcano, a zoo, an aquarium, the Edgar Clerc Archaeological Museum, and Fort Napoleon. Parc Naturel de Guadeloupe offers some of the best hiking trails on the island, and visitors can explore 74,100 acres of land on 180 miles of trails deemed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Golfers will want to check out Golf de St. François, the islands only course, and if you want to get in a game of tennis try Tennis Club de St. François.

Nightfall brings with it the opportunity to let loose and have fun at resort night clubs and casinos. However, if your primary vacation goal is to spend every night partying, Guadeloupe may not be the ideal location for you. While, resorts do offer nightly entertainment, for the most part night clubs are limited on the islands.

Eat Up and Have Fun!

...cuisine in Guadeloupe is considered by many to be to die for.

The Creole cuisine in Guadeloupe is considered by many to be to die for. Freshwater crayfish, land crab, seasoned meats, and curry dishes are especially favored, and fresh fruits and vegetables such as coconut, breadfruit, and peppers round out every meal. Locals often proceed their meals with a swig of rum, and sample French wines while they dine. If you are visiting Guadeloupe in August, be sure to stop by Fête des Cuisinières, an annual food festival, to sample a great variety of local fare.

If they idea of a food festival intrigues you, you may be interested in attending any number of other festivals. Annual events in Guadeloupe include Carnival in January, the West Indies Regatta in April, and the Conch Fest in November.

Health and Safety

Guadeloupe is home to five modern hospitals and 23 clinics. A 24-hour emergency room is available at Le Centre Hôpitalier Universitaire de Pointe-à-Pitre. It is best to stick to bottled water on Guadeloupe to avoid stomach issues. The islands are free of any major or serious crime, but streets get deserted very quickly at night, so use common sense when going out after dark. In most cases, following common safety rules in any circumstances will prevent many problems. Ladies should keep a firm grasp on their handbags, as purse snatching by speeding motorcyclists has been reported on occasion.

Whether you are traveling alone, with family, friends, or your significant other, Guadeloupe has attractions and amenities to suit your needs. While it can be difficult to decide where you want to visit when you plan a trip to the Caribbean, Guadeloupe makes it easy: for vacationers interested in experiencing the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere with a French twist, Guadeloupe is it.


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