Guadeloupe: the fantastic archipelago - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    Guadeloupe: the fantastic archipelago

    Guadeloupe: the fantastic archipelago

    Beautiful beaches, wild landscapes breathtaking, gastronomy and amazing cultural wealth... Guadeloupe is listed in the most recent list of places to visit according to National Geographic. As a bonus, as the Antilles archipelago is in French territory, no need for interpreter!


    Beaches for all tastes

    The islands of Guadeloupe are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. A little less accessible, the islands of Marie-Galante, Desirade and Terre-de-Bas are worth seeing for their wild beauty. As for those of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, they abound of magnificent places to bask in the sun.

    BEACHES OF GREAT LAND

    Beach of the Caravelle

    It's the Club Med beach. The area closest to the club is very quiet, the shallow waters are perfect for young families. Deck chairs are available for rent from Club Med for 10 euros per day. There is also access to showers and a non-alcoholic drink. The area facing the sea is ideal for water sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing. It can be rented on site. From the parking lot, you have to walk about ten minutes to get to the family area. There are some traders and mobile canteens near the parking lot.

    Beach of the Datcha

    Located in the heart of the city of Gosier, this beach is lively and very popular with locals. For an experience at the antipodes, we go there after sunset: the beautiful beach is then lit by powerful projectors. The atmosphere is decidedly at the party, the young people play soccer or volleyball, while the older enjoy the terraces with direct access to the beach. Street food trucks set up in the parking lot to add to the catering offer.

    Beach of the village of Sainte-Anne

    Nice urban beach in the heart of the village of Sainte-Anne. Family friendly, it has inflatable water games and a floating pool moored near the beach. Do not miss the public market, open every day until 5 pm It is colorful and fragrant, thank you to the many stalls of spices. There is also a large selection of souvenirs, as well as several choices of homemade juice - vendors are careful not to reveal the secrets of their blends of guava, pineapple, banana, papaya, carambola or soursop. There are also several restaurants with terraces on the beach.

    Gate of Hell's Beach

    A small paradise at the north end of Grande-Terre, a few kilometers from Pointe-de-la-Vigie. The beach is nestled in the hollow of a lagoon that stretches a few hundred meters. The turquoise water is calm, very shallow, ideal for children. This is where the Douaniers Trail begins, a 4.8 km hike that goes to Souffleurs Point along the impressive limestone cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. To do in the morning, when the weather is cooler, because the place is exposed to the sun.

    LOWER-EARTH BEACHES

    The beach of Grande Anse

    It is rightly considered as one of the most beautiful beaches of Guadeloupe. It stretches for several kilometers, its sand is superb, very clean, it is deep and offers many places in the shade. She also benefits from amenities and services (toilets, showers, restaurants, shops, etc.). You can also rent paddle boats, paddle boards or kayaks to go to the mangrove, which stops directly on the beach. Snorkeling is also possible from the beach; masks, snorkel and fins are offered for rent.

    The Leroux beach

    Beautiful little beach of golden sand perfect enclaved in the hollow of the steep coast. The view is superb. The sea is generally quite lenient, very conducive to swimming, it is even recommended to bring mask and snorkel for the observation of fish in corals nearby. Apart from a restaurant located near the road, there is no service on Leroux beach and the small and narrow parking is very quickly filled to the maximum of its capacity. There are some areas in the shade, but they are a little behind the beach.

    The beach of Grande Anse

    It bears the same name as the large Deshaies Beach, but it is located west of Trois-Rivières, at the southern tip of Basse-Terre. Beautiful beach of fine black sand, it is more than 1 km long. We meet several athletes who come to train in the morning. Near the parking lot there are some shelters with picnic tables. The sea is more agitated, but the bathing is supervised, which is not necessarily common in Guadeloupe. For catering and accommodation, the port area of ​​Trois-Rivières is about ten minutes from the beach of Grande Anse. The Fetou Kreyol does not look, but it's worth the detour.

    A country of contrasts

    We can very well just do the lazing on the beach. But if you want to move, Guadeloupe has a lot to offer, including hiking where the scenery is breathtaking. Discoveries.

    La Soufriere

    If the island of Basse-Terre is so different from that of Grande-Terre, it is the fault of the "Old lady". The volcano La Soufrière is the highest peak of the Lesser Antilles. Its 1467 m altitude block the trade winds blowing from the south, the clouds cling to the summit, which receives an average of 10 m of rain per year. The mountains of Basse-Terre are therefore covered with a rich tropical forest, interspersed with 55 permanent watercourses, which swell briskly when the rains are particularly intense. Grouped in the national park of Guadeloupe, the place has been part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 1992.

    The falls of Carbet

    The Grand Carbet runs down the eastern slope of La Soufrière with three vertiginous jumps, including a first of nearly 115m. The second fall, 110 meters high, is no less spectacular, but it has the advantage of being the most accessible. A small hike of nearly 750 m allows to reach the observation zone, a little behind the base for security reasons. If you want to see the first fall closer, you should know that this is a 4.7 km hike with relatively steep sections.

    The Paradise Basin

    Coming back from the Carbet Falls, you have to stop at the Paradise Pool, especially in warmer weather. The access is not indicated, but it is a few hundred meters before the parking of the reception pavilion, at the height of the pedestrian crossing. It takes about fifteen minutes to reach the clear water basin formed by the waterfalls of the Grosse Corde River. Be careful, the wooden stairs are steep and the steps can be slippery in the hours following a downpour.

    Crayfish Waterfall

    Another place that allows swimming - with caution, needless to say, because the place is not more guarded than Paradise Basin - is the crayfish waterfall. Just 10 minutes from the parking lot along the D23 - the only road that crosses the island of Basse-Terre - the waterfall is very easy to access, even for people with reduced mobility. The look alone is worth the detour.

    The Mamelles Park

    Shortly after cooling off at the crayfish waterfall, we arrive at the Guadeloupe Zoo, Parc des Mamelles, located in the Guadeloupe National Park. The park covers four hectares, in the middle of the rainforest. There are 450 animals belonging to 85 species of the Caribbean and Guyana, distributed in large enclosures that blend into the immediate environment. With a recent investment of 2.5 million euros, the Parc des Mamelles has carved a place in the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the largest professional group of zoos in the world.

    Marine creatures

    Guadeloupe is also impressive rugged coastline, rich seabed or a vast mangrove forming a real natural labyrinth. So many reasons to discover an amazing maritime panorama, but also very accessible.

    The Cousteau Nature Reserve

    On the west coast of Basse-Terre, a few kilometers from the Parc des Mamelles, is the municipality of Bouillante, whose small natural harbor of Malendure is the base of the diving expeditions of the Cousteau Nature Reserve. As part of the Guadeloupe National Park, the reserve is made up of 1000 hectares of protected seabed with Pigeon islets in its heart, first explored by Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1959. From the first meter of depth, you can observe coral, tropical fish and turtles. The place is also ideal to live its baptism scuba diving: the prices are competitive and the site is beautiful, sheltered from the waves. For the more experienced, it is also possible to explore three wrecks that have been sunk nearby.

    The Pointe des Châteaux

    Back on Grande-Terre, you have to see the works that the sea carved in limestone. Completely to the east, the Pointe des Châteaux is worth a visit. The summit of the peak is reached by a well-laid out path. As you have to climb a hundred stone steps, it is better to be careful in the heat. In good weather, Ile des Désirade is clearly visible in the east, while the white beaches of Petite-Terre can be seen a little further south.

    The shower

    Before arriving at the tip of the Castles, 7 km after leaving Saint-François, we stop at the Douche, accessible from a short path that enters the mangroves. During our visit, an ice cream truck apparently parked in the middle of nowhere clearly indicated the entrance. The shower is actually a very small basin formed by the splashes of water that gush out by hitting the rocks below. We sit and have fun to be showered by the sea water. We can also bask on the beach of a small cove next door, but we can not swim, the bottom water being shallow and particularly rocky.

    Pointe de la Vigie

    The northernmost point of Guadeloupe, the tip of the Vigie offers an exceptional panorama, even if it is less spectacular than that of the point of the Castles. It is the ideal place to see the huge cliffs formed by limestone erosion, especially on the east side, where the cliffs are visible as far as the eye can see.

    Kayaking in the sea cul-de-sac

    Natural reserve under the jurisdiction of the Guadeloupe National Park, the Grand Cul-de-sack is in the hollow of the two butterfly wings that form Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. The area is protected behind a 39-kilometer coral reef, the longest in the Lesser Antilles. In total, the bay covers 24,500 hectares, bordered by mangroves, swamp forests and herbaceous marshes. We can discover some of this remarkable habitat kayaking, guided by Pascal Yalodé company. The ride that ends with a tale at sunset is certainly worth it, but we would have liked to be more informed about this forest that stretches over 5000 hectares and takes the shape of a maritime labyrinth.

    Practical Guide

    Guadeloupe is not on the list of destinations that offer all-inclusive packages, so you have to make a little more effort to stay there. But the game is well worth the candle, especially with a little preparation, the experience is rather simple. Advice.

    Flight

    From Montreal, only Air Canada offers a direct connection with Pointe-à-Pitre throughout the year. We usually talk about two flights a week, the frequency goes to three from January to March and summer. However, there is only one weekly flight from mid-September to the end of October. For its part, Air Transat offers two direct flights per week, from the end of December to the beginning of April. It is good to know that the discount carrier Norwegian Airlines also liaises with the John F. Kennedy Airport from December to March, but first you have to travel to New York.

    Hosting

    The diversity of the Guadeloupe archipelago invites to discovery. Do not look for an all inclusive hotel (except for Club Med). Air Transat offers flight and hotel packages, but most are on European plan (meals are not included). Otherwise, there are several small charming establishments, but you have to put the price, especially since the bill is in euros. A cheaper option is to explore rental sites (for example, Airbnb), which offer a very suitable choice. Our guests even received us with a delicious homemade juice accompanied by freshly picked mangoes!

    Transport

    The discovery of Guadeloupe is by car, it is inevitable. Fortunately, all major rental companies have offices at the Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport in Guava. You can find a sub-compact for less than $ 300 for the week. As for parking, this is generally not a problem, it's free almost everywhere except when you have to park the car for an extended period, especially when boarding the maritime shuttles that provide the connection with the Saintes, Desirade and Marie-Galante.

    Food

    Thanks to its status as an overseas territory of France, Guadeloupe enjoys the support of the motherland. No worries about food or drinking water. We eat well, and we do not hesitate to taste the local specialties: bokits, fried pitas garnished with desire, agoulous, flat fish or chicken sandwiches, fish acras or ouassous, freshwater crayfish toasted. Of course, we spray everything with a famous Ti-Punch or a flavored house cocktail - each restaurateur has his own recipe, or almost!

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