With hill-encircled bays, picture-perfect beaches and the best things about French culture transferred to a sunnier setting, Guadeloupe is an understandably popular corner of the Caribbean. Known for rum, sugar, bananas and Creole tradition, few places will help you fall quite so deep in to the tropical island culture so many dream about.
If you came for the beaches – and you probably did – head for Ste Anne, where the seafront cafes provide a sophisticated range of snacks to go with your waves and rays. Classy Saint Barthelemy has become known as ‘the jet set island’, with luxury villas coating the hillsides and five-star hotels lining the sands. The castle-esque beaches of St Francois, the eastern most point of main islands, has a perfect view of a Caribbean sunrise over the outlying islands.
The steamy heights of La Soufriere Volcano make for an epic hike, it’s steep emerald-green slopes and lava trails stretching nearly 1,500 meters above the beaches with sporadic hot springs along the way. The two halves of the ‘butterfly’ islands are joined by an imposingly thick mangrove swamp that’s best explored by kayak. The underwater scenery’s worth a look too, while sports fanatics will find ample opportunities to get involved in windsurfing, beach volleyball, boating and recuperating buffets.
Guadeloupe’s towns are picturesque without being spectacular, yet the nightlife has a strong budding reputation. Beachside rum and coconut bars are common, allowing visitors to live out their cocktail-on-the-sands fantasies, while the island’s surprising abundance of clubs host the visiting ‘in crowd’ with oodles of technicolored spirit blends.
For the adventurous, spectacular waterfalls in the depths of the Basse Terre forest make a welcome break from beach culture, while tours of the local rum distilleries give a ‘behind the scenes’ look at this essential part of the island economy.
Guadeloupe is a thoroughly modern taste of the Caribbean, with a refined, French-influenced culinary scene, stunning steep-sided inlands and more water-related activities than you can shake a palm leaf at. Sit on the beach, soak up some sun, and throw the lime in the coconut…