Guadeloupe Islands

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 ArchipelagoMarie 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.

  • Grande-Terre: Grande-Terre houses the airport which is located in Pointe-à-Pitre – the oldest city in Guadeloupe. Here you will find a lot of history as well as museums. And the architecture is quite interesting – it is similar as to what you would find in New Orleans. Here you can also go to the market and buy a host of fares – such as creole spices, rum and fruits – and of course – souvenirs! The three towns on the southern coast of Grande-Terre – Le Gosier, Sainte-Anne, and Saint-Francois are the main towns where you will find most of population.  Most of the hotels are also located there along the beautiful white sand beaches.


  • Basse-Terre:  While Grande-Terre is kind of flat you will find Basse-Terre to be a vastly different terrain. It is a rainforest therefore it is lush and it has mountains as well as a volcano that you can climb – as it’s very accessible. It also contains a lot of hiking trails, the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, a fantastic botanical garden and amazing waterfalls. Bonus – you can learn how to make coffee and organic chocolate bars here too!


  • Marie Galante: This island is nicknamed Pancake Island because of its shape. It is much more remote than the two main islands. Here you will find many sugarcane fields and also two famous rum distilleries where you can partake in rum tastings (yes please!). As Michel described – it’s like stepping back in time when you are on this island. There are only three towns and not a not a lot of inhabitants. However, you will spot old school ox carts and the farmers with their straw hats meandering about.  One very enticing part? It’s laid back and relaxed AND you can have a whole beach to yourself – just white sand and turquoise water and you!  How’s that for some amazing social distancing?


  • Le Saintes: This is Michel’s favorite island and – it’s actually a little archipelago itself – composed of five tiny islands! When you arrive here you will dock in one of the most beautiful bays in the world. From there you will venture into a little fishing village founded by fishermen from Brittany and Normandy. Here you will find a lot of amazing restaurants and – no surprise here – amazing seafood as well. It is a hilly archipelago and on one of the hills sits Fort Napoleon which not only contains a lot of history as it was built by Napoleon to fight the British – but from it you can see the entire archipelago. What a view!


  • La Desirade: This is a protected bin of land that was a leper colony for 300 years. There is only one town and needless to say not a lot of people live here. As Michel noted there are probably more iguanas than people! Since there is just one road it is a fun place to rent a moped, explore the island and ultimately find a beach all to yourself!

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.

  • Five (5) Star Properties:
    • Just one! The stunning La Toubana Hotel and Spa which is located in Sainte-Anne about 25 minutes from the airport. It is perched on top of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and its own private beach. Room types include suites and bungalows – and three high-end luxury villas – each with an infinity pool and butler service! Count me in!
  • Four (4) Star Properties:
    • Club Med is an all-inclusive property and is located on one of the most beautiful beaches on the archipelago. They just completed a total renovation so it’s pretty much brand new as they re-opened in December. They also feature an adult only section.
    • The La Creole Beach Hotel and Spa is a very chic on property on the beach situated among tropical surroundings and hosting two amazing restaurants – including the popular La Route des Epices. They are also known for their very lively bar which always has something going. Many locals frequent it, so you have an opportunity to mingle at such events as Jazz night or Caribbean night!
    • Le Relais Du Moulin – located in Sainte Ann and way more private than the other properties – this resort was built around an 18th century windmill. Surrounded by bungalows – which are the only room types available – they also have a spa and a private swimming pool. This chic hotel is great for couples.


  • Three (3) Star Properties:
    • The Langley Resort Fort Royal is located in Basse-Terre so it is near the rainforest. It sits on a gold sand beach which is a cool, warm color sand. This one is great for families as it is an all-inclusive and offers plenty of activities.
    • Fleur D’Epee Hotel on Grande-Terre is another all-inclusive property. Here you will find a stunning white sand beach as well as a copious buffet! Another great option.


  • Ecolodges:
    • Ecolodges are incredibly unique and the Tendacayou Ecolodge and Spa is absolutely magical. They are actually tree houses situated in the rainforest and in the mountains – and oh those views! They also have a fabulous spa featuring treatments done with their natural spring water. If you don’t stay here, make it a point to go to spa or their restaurant as this is a must see. This one is great for my wellness peeps.

Gastronomy: This premiere Caribbean dining destination offers many different flavors. You will find that many chefs move to Guadeloupe from Paris to open their own restaurants with the food being mix of classic French cuisine with the creole spices and fresh seafood intertwined added in. A refined super awesome combination of French savoir faire and Caribbean flavors if you will. PS – They are also home to some great wines and rums!

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!


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