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Guadeloupe Cruise Port Tips

Pointe a Pitre marketplace; © Jean-Marc LeCerf for Guadeloupe Island Tourist Board
Guadeloupe in the Leeward Islands is getting more and more traffic from cruise ships in recent years.

The island, still technically a part of France, is rich with French influence, from the language to the currency.

Some English is spoken, especially in the major tourist areas. But having a French dictionary on hand is helpful in some locations.

Guadeloupe is unique in the Caribbean for having five harbors that can welcome cruise ships.

The main cruise port is at the Centre Saint-John Perse terminal in Guadeloupe’s central city, Pointe-à-Pitre.

This city of 16,000 sits on Grande Terre near the narrow sea channel that separates it from Basse-Terre. The central location makes it easier for visitors to explore both halves of The Butterfly Island.

Fast Facts


  • Guadeloupe’s best attractions are outside of the Pointe-à-Pitre cruise port.
  • Grande Anse is the island’s best and most famous beach.
  • January through March are the best months to visit for low risk of rain.

Attractions


Stretching 629 square miles, Guadeloupe is packed with things to do and see. The island is unusual in that it is an archipelago of two distinct halves in the shape of a butterfly.

They are Grande-Terre in the east and Basse-Terre in the west. For this reason, Guadeloupe has the nickname of The Butterfly Island.

Deciding what to do before arriving will ease the overwhelming sensation many cruisers experience when coming ashore.

The cruise port at Pointe-à-Pitre offers the usual port shopping plus some interesting historical attractions.

Visitors can see colonial buildings such as Marché Saint-Antoine or Place de la Victoire. Other noteworthy historical sites include St-Paul Church and the brightly colored district of La Darse, which has Creole houses in the style of New Orleans.

Musée St-John Perse near Place de la Victoire is a three-level museum dedicated to Alexis Leger (1887–1975), a French poet, diplomat and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Leger, who went by the name of Saint-John Perse, was born in Guadeloupe and spent his first 12 years there. The 19th century building is an example of a period Creole home and has displays of Leger’s life and work.

Visitors wanting to stay on foot may enjoy the outdoor markets in Pointe-à-Pitre, which sell food, spices, and potpourri.

The local food in Guadeloupe is a mix of French and creole influences and can be purchased at the outdoor markets.

Natural attractions and adventures are common outside of Pointe-à-Pitre.

Cruisers wanting to see as much of Guadeloupe as possible without exhausting themselves may want to go on a land tour to see a large part of the island.

The tour takes travelers through fields and past beaches to show them the wide diversity of Guadeloupe. The tour makes several stops along the way to allow travelers to get out and look around.

Plage Pointe Des Chateaux
Plage Pointe Des Chateaux. Credit: Copyright Guadeloupe Tourism Board
Basse-Terre, which is the eastern half of The Butterfly Island, is a part of Guadeloupe populated with waterfalls, rivers, and volcanoes.

Several tourism companies offer round trips to the Trois Cornes Waterfalls. Round trips are usually based on group rates, and cost around $100.

La Soufriere is a 4,813-foot-high active volcano located in Basse-Terre. This volcano is part of the National Park of Guadeloupe. Visitors can drive most of the way up the volcano and then can hike to the very top. This excursion takes about two hours.

Karukeraland Adventure and Water Park has slides, the Fun Gliss and Mango Splash, a pool, the paddling pool and the fountains. It also has a wildlife park with more than 200 exotic animals such as swans, peacocks, llamas, ponies and goats. The park is about 40 minutes east of the cruise port.

Beaches and Snorkeling


To get to a beach, cruisers will likely have to take a taxi, excursions bus or another form of public transportation.

Taxis are not metered, so travelers should set a price before getting in the cab.

The most famous beach for visitors to Pointe-a-Pitre is Grande Anse on the northwest coast of the island. It is 45 minutes away by car.

For snorkelers and water sport enthusiasts, northern Basse-Terre’s shoreline is brimming with underwater life.



Ferries can also be taken to Pigeon Island from Pointe-a-Pitre.

Pigeon Island is home to about 10 dive sites. Diving classes and instructors are available. A round trip to and from Pigeon Island, with snorkeling included, costs about $100 per person.

A sail and snorkel tour takes visitors to Grand Cul de Sac Marin, part of the Guadeloupe National Park, for a day long adventure on the water.

Cruisers wanting to see as much of Guadeloupe as possible may want to go on a Guadeloupe Island tour.

The tour takes travelers through fields and past beaches to show them the wide diversity of the island.

The tour makes several stops along the way to allow travelers to get out and look around.

Island tours generally cost around $80.

Other Excursions


Basse-Terre is a part of Guadeloupe populated with waterfalls, rivers, and volcanoes.

Several tourism companies offer round trips to the Trois Cornes Waterfalls. Round trips are usually based on group rates, and cost around $100.

La Soufriere is a 4,813-foot-high active volcano located in Basse-Terre. This volcano is part of the National Park of Guadeloupe.

Visitors can drive most of the way up the volcano and then can hike to the very top. This excursion takes about two hours in length.

Getting Around


All major international rental car companies have a presence in Guadeloupe. The Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board recommends renting a car as the best way to get around the island.

Taxi rates are set by the government, but drivers don’t always follow the rates. Check for a meter and settle on a rate before getting into the taxi. Look for a “Friendly Taxi” logo on the vehicle or driver, the tourist board says.

The main island has an extensive bus service, but travelers will finding that knowing the French language will make the system easier to use.

Weather


The dry season runs from December through June except for a small increase in rain during May.

Average rainfall jumps from August through November during the annual Caribbean hurricane season.

Average high temperatures stay in the mid to upper 80s Fahrenheit and upper 20s Celsius throughout the year.

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