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Guadeloupe Travel Guide

The Department of Guadeloupe is made up of 2 islands, the rustic Basse-Terre and the smaller Grande-Terre. The area of 1,780 square kilometres is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean and is southeast of Puerto Rico. There are around 415,000 folk living round and about the islands and the population are nicely spread out over the area, with only around 14,000 living in the capital of Basse-Terre. The inhabitants speak mainly French and are of Mixed African, European, French and East Indian race, with Roman Catholic, Hindu and pantheistic African beliefs. Guadeloupe is also a member of the European Union and commercially does business with countries such as France, USA and Martinique.

Owned by the French since 1635, Guadeloupe’s two islands are both part of Saint Martin, an area that is shared with the Netherlands. The southern most region of Saint Martin is called Sint Maarten and is the area which shares itself with the Netherlands Antilles, with the northern segment of Saint Martin being called Saint-Martin and is a part of Guadeloupe.

The major city in Guadeloupe is Pointe-à-Pitre, where the major hub of activity lies, unlike the contrasting capital of Basse-Terre, named after the island, a laid back town situated on the far-flung south-western side of Guadeloupe. The most interesting of the islands are to the west and south including Terre-de-Haut, which has a little village and harbour in its centre and beautiful beaches, including the stunning, white sandy beach of Plage Caravelle, along its coast. There are islands virtually untouched by tourism around Gudeloupe, such as Marie-Galante, La Désirade and Terre-de-Bas, all providing sights of the pastoral French West Indies. When it comes to fun in the sun, this country has the best diving and snorkelling sites, with the Réserve Cousteau, off the western coast of Basse-Terre being one of the top diving sites and Ilet du Gosier, being the most outstanding area for snorkelling. Surfing is fantastic from October to May in areas such as Port-Louis and Le Moule and from June through August at Saint-François or Petit-Havre. Windsurfing addicts can play the day away at the island of Terre-de-Haut and hikers have got it made with great treks taking hikers to rainforests, cascading waterfalls and far out places such as La Soufrière, where they’ll reach the a volcano’s summit.

Moving around the islands is done quite easily by public bus, which operates frequently from morning to evening, except Sundays, when the bus service is only attainable on major routes. Taxi’s are also in abundance but can cost an arm and a leg! Car, motorcycle and bicycle rental are other good options and can be rented from the main tourist areas. Anyone wanting to do some island hopping though can grab a ferry or flight, with of course, the flights being a much faster option.

To actually get into the country, Canadian, French and American travellers can fly direct using Air France or Air Canada, anyone using other airlines will have to connect at San Juan, Puerto Rico. Travellers from the Caribbean will also find that Air Guadeloupe and Air Martinique will take passengers into the country and fly between Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France on the island of Martinique. The time to go to Guadeloupe is from February to April, as these are the months that are dry and not too overpowering heat-wise! December to February are the hottest months and July to November are the wettest with hurricanes also a possibility, so these seasons are best avoided. Any visitors wanting to come when cultural events are taking place should arrive in the spring and summer, especially when the carnival celebrations are being enjoyed during Mardi Gras.

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