Guadeloupe is a French region in the Leeward Islands, which are part of the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea. It is comprised of two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, and several smaller islands which include Marie-Galante, La Desirade, and Iles des Saintes. Guadeloupe is considered part of France, rather than a territory, so it is therefore part of the European Union and the Eurozone. The capital of Guadeloupe is Basse-Terre, the largest city and on the island of the same name. Other cities include Pointe-a-Pitre, Sainte-Anne, Petit-Bourg, and La Moule. Of these, Sainte Anne is the tourism centre.
The Guadeloupe airport is Pointe-a-Pitre, in nearby Abymes, and has daily flights from Paris, Montreal, Miami, and other Caribbean locales. Seasonal flights come in from Frankfurt, New York, Boson, Rome, and Milan as well. Transportation around the island is easy, provided you are okay with public buses, expensive cabs, or hitchhiking - and can speak decent French. Renting a car to get around is another option if you have the budget for it or need to get to remote areas for hiking.
The climate in Guadeloupe is tropical marine, and is influenced by the trade winds. The dry season runs from January to June, while a rainy season is in effect from July to December. Guadeloupe experiences Caribbean hurricanes, but few other natural disasters. The geography is volcanic, with mountains, fertile soil, rolling hills, and gorgeous beaches and coral reefs. La Grande Soufriere is the highest mountain in the Lesser Antilles; it is a challenging volcanic hike for outdoor enthusiasts.
The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 but no one settled there until the French took possession in 1635; consequently, Guadeloupe was annexed to the French in 1674 after several bloody skirmishes. The British captured Guadeloupe during the Seven Years War but returned it to France under the Treaty of Paris. Guadeloupeans speak French, and many of them also speak Guadeloupean Creole.
As part of the Eurozone, Guadeloupe is one of few countries outside of mainland Europe to use the Euro. Guadeloupe’s main economies are tourism, sugarcane, bananas, and other agriculture. Sugarcane is slowly being replaced as the top export. Over 80% of Guadeloupe’s tourists come from mainland France, but in recent years cruises ships have begun docking in the islands and that has increased the number of foreign tourists.
Budget accommodation in Guadeloupe is rare or nonexistent, as in most of the Caribbean. Traditional, European-style hostels are few and far between although that may change in upcoming years. Instead of hostels, consider guesthouses or pensions, as you can typically find something less expensive than the resort accommodation. Remember that Guadeloupe uses the Euro, and prices will reflect that.
Once you have your accommodation sorted, you can begin to explore this fascinating island chain. Much of your time in Guadeloupe will be spent on the two main islands (often referred to as one), as much of the tourist activity is centred here in Sainte-Anne. There are plenty of trails in the mountains, though, for people who want to get out into nature. Carbet Falls is a popular waterfall on La Soufriere and sees the most visitors of any tourist attraction in Guadeloupe. Don't miss the beaches either, and if you are interested in getting to another island, hop on a boat.
Whatever you choose to do in Guadeloupe, you’ll find welcoming locals and a thriving culture. Enjoy!
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Guadeloupe hostels. Welcome.