Ever heard of the Guadeloupe Islands? If you haven’t – you are not alone as these fascinating islands are pretty much undiscovered and one of the best kept secrets of the Caribbean! And you know how I love my off the beaten path destinations – making this relatively unknown slice of heaven a perfect place to visit in the age of social distancing.
Michel Kozminski - the Trade Production Assistant for the Tourism Board of the Guadeloupe Islands – recently joined my video chat series and presented us with a marvelous overview of this archipelago of five islands in the French Caribbean – giving us a glimpse at the beauty that awaits for any traveler who chooses this destination for their vacation spot. And believe me – you will want to choose it after you read this!
Pull up a lounge chair, apply your sunscreen and sit back and relax while I tell you all about it!
Getting There: Guadeloupe is a French territory located in the southern Caribbean between Antigua and Dominica which means for my East Coast folks its quite easy to get to. There are a host of direct flights available including JetBlue - three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Saturday) - from New York’s JFK which is a three and a half to four-hour flight time. And it’s an 8:00 AM flight making it easy to connect to if you are coming from Boston, Burlington or LAX. One note – this schedule is seasonal and only runs in the winter from November through to the end of April. There are also two weekly direct Air France flights from Miami on Tuesday and Saturday and American Airlines has one out of Miami as well a direct flight on Saturday – with both airlines running this schedule year-round. The flight times from MIA come in at a little over three hours. And another plus? As of this writing JetBlue’s tickets started at $159 one way – so very affordable flights!
Language and Currency and More: As I noted in the intro - the Guadeloupe Islands are actually an archipelago of five islands. There are two main islands – Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre - connected by a bridge and they just so happen to be shaped like a butterfly - which is why Guadeloupe is nicknamed the Butterfly Archipelago! Marie Galante, Les Saintes and La Desirade make up the remaining three islands. Oh - and of course they have an international airport where you will arrive – and it is located in middle of the two main islands.
Guadeloupe is on Eastern Standard Time and as I mentioned it is a French Territory so it is part of France and the European Union – so you will need your passport to travel here. The official language is French, but English is widely spoken as well. And Euro is the currency used on the island – with banks and ATM’s widely available throughout.
They have an E.U. Standards infrastructure which in a nutshell means that medical services and equipment are extensive throughout the archipelago, tap water is safe to drink everywhere and no vaccinations required. They also boast an excellent and well-maintained road network.
Transportation: Guadeloupe is considered a premiere island-hopping destination with an excellent inter-island connection system via ferry. The three islands surround Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre are located within a mere 20 to 45-minute boat ride and ferries run every day, several times a day. You can take an early morning ferry over to the island of your choice, spend the day and return on a late afternoon ferry. As for the two main islands – it is very easy to rent a car there and you can actually drive across them both in about two hours - so you can do a one day rental if you like.
The Islands of Guadeloupe: As Marco relayed – the islands are a slice of France in the Caribbean and the Guadalupe archipelago is like a box of chocolates where there is always something new to discover. And - as you will see - each island certainly has a different flavor. And since they are so close together it is quite easy to experience each and every one while you are visiting.
Sightseeing and Activities: As Michel exclaimed – this is the ultimate French Caribbean experience with countless activities for everyone - a cool mix of French art de vivre and Caribbean simplicity where you are guaranteed to have a good time!
The destination screams wellness and soft adventure. There are a lot of green activity thanks to the rainforest! And there are activities for the more adventurous too – such as zip lining, mountain biking, canyoning and a few adventure parks.
This archipelago is preserved - with an impressive 77% of its territories classified as natural reserves. And here you can find over 250 unspoiled beaches, over 50 waterfalls and 256 miles of way marked hiking trails. These breathtaking untouched beaches mean there are a lot of blue activities – as Michel said – it’s an aquatic dream!
They have a very strong cultural heritage with over 80 historical monuments across the five islands including the Memorial ACTe Museum – which is the largest memorial in the world dedicated to the slave trade.
You can also find the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve here – which is their rain forest and home to the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve for diving (they do offer certification classes fyi) and snorkeling. Here you can also go sailing, surfing, kite surfing, deep-sea fishing and more all-in crystal-clear water.
Michel also let us in on a little secret by the rainforest in Basse-Terre in a little town called Gourbeyre. It is called Les Bassins Bleus and is a 30-minute hike through the lush tropical flora of the rainforest with picnic areas along the way. The reward? At the end you will come across a series of heaven like blue natural pools to cool off in. What a perfect adventure!
There is always something going on too – as they play host to great music festivals all year round. There’s the Saint George’s International Music Festival featuring classical music and opera and takes place in March. (Side Note: Saint George is considered the black Mozart and he hails from Guadeloupe.) In June you can find blues and reggae music at the Terre de blues Festival and if you like electronic music there is the All Day In Festival every July. The Karukera One Love Festival has plenty of Caribbean music and is held in August and come November there’s the Hot Jazz Festival for you jazz fans. And of course, the entire month of February you can celebrate Carnival!
Accommodations: Guadeloupe offers many different types of accommodations and features everything from 3 to 5-star to eco-properties.
In the News: So, Guadeloupe is becoming popular – better get there before everyone finds out about it! For instance…it was on the New York Times 52 Places To Go List in 2016, on the Best of the World list in National Geographic in 2017 and has been featured on several travel shows. More recently it became the filming location of the comedy crime show Death in Paradise a popular show you can watch on Netflix!
Safety: The Guadalupe islands are very safe. They are a French department and they benefit from the French regulations in terms of infrastructure’s health etc.
Types of Travelers: It’s for everyone – families, friends, couples, seniors, athletes, foodies, eco tourists, cultural tourists and Francophiles!
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Guadeloupe.
Note: Guadeloupe has enacted post COVID-19 sanitary measures that all hotels and excursion companies will enforce. These are strict rules and regulations of the French health agency which include employees wearing masks and gloves, reinforcing cleaning at each contact point, as well as applying social distancing. In addition to these sanitary measures hotels will add more flexibility with their cancellation policy in order to facilitate business.
For the CDC’s most up to date information on COVID-19 click here. And for the most up to date entry requirements for the Guadeloupe Islands click here.
So, what do you think? I told you that you’d want to go! It really is a hidden gem – so great for social distancing! For more details on things to see and do in the Guadeloupe Islands, where to stay, it’s price points and more - contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!
During the shutdown of Covid19, Loulu Lima began interviewing many tourism boards, destination management companies and suppliers whom BHGH works with in the curation of your itineraries.
Here you will find the videos as well as written summary of each. Summaries are transcribed by Carole A. Peck.
Video post production managed by MotionDash.Media
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