Guadeloupe – a little France in the Caraibes

Flights from London, the United Kingdom to Guadeloupe

There are no direct flights from London to Guadeloupe, however, you can fly with AirFrance to Paris and then, having just enough time to change at the Parisian airport, you can take a direct connection to Pointe-à-Pitre. In March 2017, for 2 weeks holiday, ticket prices came up to £540 with checked-in baggage included.

Guadeloupe currency and language

As aforementioned, Guadeloupe is like a little France in the Caribbean. The road signs, currency and even local markets are exactly the same as in France. Everyone is speaking French and a little bit of English, especially in the more touristic parts of the island. The official currency here is the Euro, so it shouldn’t be any problem to acquire some before the trip. Alternatively, it’s no problem to withdraw cash from an ATM and there are plenty of them around. Every supermarket accepts card payments, which makes this place feel very European. What is the most surprising, but also really helpful is that while Guadeloupe is a French territory, it is also EU territory! This means roaming works the same way as it would Europe. In my case, there were no additional charges and I could use my mobile plan as usual, being able to post my Insta stories directly from the beaches and waterfalls.

Car hire in Guadeloupe​

From the things I really appreciate about going with my friends is that everyone seems to be organized and happy to take care of specific tasks. You need to trust me, it wasn’t easy to find a good rental company, which will be more local and more affordable in price. My friend found a great car hire in Guadeloupe, probably the cheapest on the whole island. It is called Emeraude et Diamonds. While the website is a bit clunky and the owners didn’t seem too tech-savvy, the entire rental and payment process was quite seamless. Even though they didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any French. They had a card machine to hold a deposit on my card and process the payment for the rental. It was the first time ever we were greeted at the airport. I’ve never seen anything so cute as both of them with a sign with “La familie Maleta” written on it. As the reservation was on my name and was for four people, they just assumed we will be a couple traveling with kids! For the latest pricing and contacting the rental company, please head to their website. Prices start from 25 per day. When traveling with 3 or more people you can get the best deals. Anyway, I think it’s not easy to get around this place via public transport.

Nature

The Butterfly island is a perfect destination for nature lovers. It’s not just beautiful beaches, a warm climate, and exotic fauna. You can spend time doing a variety of activities outside. If you’re not a fan of sunbathing all day long, you can go on a horse ride, climb up an active volcano, visit a botanical garden. Not a fan? Jump in a waterfall lake or have a day out in National Park. Let me take you through a few of my most favorite locations.

Beaches

As you would expect from an island, it’s mostly covered with beaches around the perimeter. After some research, we learned that the majority of the largest beaches were situated on the east side of the island. Our favorite of them all was Sante Anne. We were staying in Le Moule and it was only 20 minutes drive from our place. Turns out, it was a perfect balance for sun-deprived girls wanting to chill for the majority of the time. The beach wasn’t too crowded and the sand was nice – very delicate, clean and had all the tourist necessities like a toilet, parking (with a few food trucks) and beautiful, blue sea and palm trees.

Volcano

The volcano seems to be quite a popular tourist destination on the island. Cars are parked along the road ribboning around it a good kilometer or so away from where the trails actually start. It may involve a little bit of skill in swearing-in Francais and manoeuvering to get yourself a nice parking spot close to the trek. I was ill and the weather wasn’t great so I decided to try to get as close as humanly possible. La Grande Soufrière is an active volcano so it does have the flavoursome smell of an egg. I wish you will get a nice clear sky to enjoy the view from the highest point on the island. Not for us!

Waterfalls

There are a few wonderful locations with waterfalls in Guadeloupe and they are a blessing on hot days like the ones we experienced in March. Without thinking too much, we decided to jump right in with the locals and enjoy the cool water and beautiful surroundings. Everyone ranging from groups of teenage friends through to families with kids and even the elderly enjoying the youth having fun – the waterfall is a must-visit. Traversing all the way down through the forest and in between stones covering the way there can be met with some difficulty (which feels more like a climbdown, rather than a walk) but it was manageable nonetheless, even for the kids – don’t fret. All the waterfalls are located on the west side of the island, in Base Terre. We went to Le Saut d’Acomat which has water deep enough to jump in; additionally, it’s surrounded by beautiful trees and the water is wonder blue color. As a traveling wolfpack of 4 girls in the cheapest car on the whole island, we also took advantage of local food affordable for locals and did not visit a restaurant once. There were plenty of food trucks, drink vendors and local shops with a variety of fruits (massive avocados and tiny bananas). The only thing we were used to, coming from Europe was the speed of the service. In Guadeloupe, I would advise starting thinking of food when you’re not hungry yet. It might take anywhere betwen 20 minutes to over an hour to wait for a simple bokit (a kind of warm sandwich). Leave all your expectations behind and enjoy the slow pace of this Caribbean island. So if you see somebody chopping coconuts up, you can simply pull over and get one for a few euros! It is not a rare sight.
Every once in a while you can see someone making natural sorbet-coco on the parking near the beach.

Rum

Guadeloupe is famous for it’s Rum distilleries and we stumbled upon one of the biggest on the island, on our way to the airport on the last day. We didn’t have time for a whole tour, however we were well prepared for some souvenir shopping. Merch, coming our way.  Throughout the holiday our Airbnb host popped in every once in a while and shared some local specialties with us. We tried local beer, local mixers and sodas, however, we were most impressed by the rum.  Apart from the amazing price (€6/$6.70/£5.15 for a liter!!!) they had different strengths (from regular 40% to even 70% which was madness). The way the locals prefer to enjoy rum is to make ti’punch. Ti’punch is a simple drink consisting of a 1:1 ratio of rum and lime juice with added sugar (or without, if you’re rejecting sugar as I do). It could be considered half-shot-half-drink. However, as us girls are all Polish we were bombing them one-by-one. No hangover whatsoever.

Summary

If you’re looking for a place to witness some beautiful views, experience a completely different perception of time, then don’t hold off any longer – Guadeloupe is the place for you!

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