Traveling to Guadeloupe fell on my radar thanks to Norwegian Airlines. With direct flights from Boston, New York, Baltimore and now Fort Lauderdale and as low as $79 one way, it was a deal that was too good to pass up. The butterfly shaped island in the Eastern part of the Caribbean, wasn’t that well known when brought up in conversation and as a professional pretentious person I knew that making it my next destination it would illicit lots of envy, and what’s the point of traveling to a warm local in the winter, if it doesn’t make everyone jealous.
An overseas department of France, the official language of Guadeloupe is French and the currency is the Euro. With a little over 3% of visitors from the Unites States, Guadeloupe doesn’t cater to the typical American tourist experience. There is a Club Med located on Grand-Terre but if you’re looking for American mega chain hotels and massive all-inclusive resorts, sorry folks, you should go elsewhere. Even the major resorts on the island, like Club Med are reserved and truly laid back. No drunken toga parties, no pools of vomit, no authorities to pay off for being an international asshole, Guadeloupe is for grown folks who like a cultural experience, great food as well as a tan.
Guadeloupe is an archipelago made up of five islands; Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre are the larger islands separated by a land strip, followed by smaller islands Marie-Galante, La Desirade and Iles des Saintes. A visit to Guadeloupe is as interesting and exhilarating as other parts of the Caribbean. With a number of culture sites including the Memorial ACTe museum devoted to educating visitors and natives on the African Diaspora, over nine rum distilleries and various forms of eco-tourism you can easily spend two weeks there and not do half the things you’ve wanted to do. Known for its variety of colorful sand beaches, Guadeloupe’s five islands which can be reached by ferry granting you permission to surf, sunbathe and swim with tortoises with no issue.
Norwegian Airlines has direct flights from Boston, New York, Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale arriving in Point a Pitre starting at $79 from November to April. Norwegian is a low-cost carrier so there maybe additional cost for checked luggage, and in flight amenities such as water have a cost. However, the planes are clean; the flight staff is professional and attentive, and the flight is a little under four hours.
Where to Stay
Grand-Terre has the larger amount of resort like hotels especially in Le Gosier, where you can find the Karibea Beach Resort where we stayed. It’s encompassed of three buildings Residence Prao is for long-term stays think time shares, then the Clipper which has maritime architecture and the Seiko, the most recently renovated. Direct access to the beach, close to transportation and a free breakfast are great amenities.
Le Creole Beach Hotel and Spa has luxurious amenities including yoga, spa treatments as well as a great nightlife and entertainment.
Club Med Caravelle The well-known hospitality brand is excellent for families and highlights the all-inclusive experience, if you are looking for that.
What to Eat
Creole food is the island’s culinary fusion of African, European and natives to the island of Guadeloupe. In addition, there are additional influences from France as well as South East Asia, India and even Italy. With dishes heavy on fish and seafood and usually accompanied with salad and rice, most dishes are accentuated with island spices and its popular pepper sauce. Restaurants are pretty much informal, you’ll find buffets at resorts but they are known for not being the most flavorful. In Le Gosier, we fell in love with Senegalese run Le Massai and its take on chicken colombo, a curry based chicken dish that falls off the bone. Also, try their snapper dish native of their homeland.
What to Buy
Rum, rum and more rum. With a number of distilleries across all five islands rum, like a majority of the Caribbean is a key purchase. Whether you are making planteur or ti punch, the official drink of the island, pick up a bottle whether while visiting a convenience store or actual rum maker. Most notable brands Bologne and Damoiseau you can pick up for less than 10 Euro and celebrate your return home by having a nostalgic cocktail.
What to Do
There is an activity for every type of tourist. You can set your sights on hiking volcanic mountains and swimming in waterfalls in Basse-Terre. Sun bathe and surf in Sainte Anne, visit aquariums, botanical gardens, churches and the homes of some of Guadeloupe’s leading writers and artist. Or learn about the colonization and the Caribbean slave trade at the Memorial ACTe. Guadeloupe is heavy in agriculture with chocolate and coffee plantations that open to public visits as well previously mentioned rum factories. If you want to beach hop, there are ferries that take you to all of the islands such as Iles des Saintes where you can dine at the marina and visit Fort Napoleon which was destroyed by the British in 1809 and rebuilt in 1867 but was never used for battle.
What to Wear
Taking cues from France, Guadeloupe people dress reserved and polished; you won’t see any mesh shirts or peek-a-boo dresses. I don’t believe I saw any spandex and cutoffs were only for the beach. Even though it’s a tropical climate, men were neat and well-groomed even if they perform manual labor, they still wear belts. Pull out your b
est dresses for a
night out, guys, go for that favorite linen shirt you’ve never had the opportunity to wear
With a majority of French tourist the popular language is French so brush up on it before you leave. Memorize a few French sayings that will get you around or go for Google translate if you really need help. Cash is king but convert your money before you arrive, have a decent amount of Euro on hand to use for cabs and at markets and smaller restaurants. This is island life, things don’t move as quickly, especially in restaurants.. Order your drink first, try a planteur punch or the official drink of the land ti punch and wait for the chefs to impress you…