Cruise and Beach Destinations
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Guadeloupe Travel Tips: Hotels, Attractions, Weather

Guadeloupe photo
Road bordered with paradise flowers in Saint-Claude. © Philippe Giraud for Guadeloupe Island Tourist Board

Guadeloupe is not known for beach vacations, but it quietly attracts plenty of tourists anyway.

The island group has nearly a half million hotel and resort visitors and 160,000 cruise visitors every year, according to the Guadeloupe government tourism agency. Unlike most Caribbean islands, it attracts far more hotel and resort visitors than cruise visitors.

This French territory looks like a butterfly—which is why it is sometimes known as The Butterfly Island. Whether it looks like a butterfly or not, this eastern Caribbean country is a growing destination for beach and cruise vacationers alike.

Hotel and Resort Tips

Hotel and resort visitors fly into Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport, which is about four miles north of the city. More than a dozen hotels lie within a brief drive from the airport and the city.

Otherwise, hotels are scattered throughout the island, mostly on the coast. It has a small number of four-star beachfront hotels with pools that cost between $200 and $300 a night.

It has another small number of three-star hotels that cost between $100 and $200 a night. Most of the other three-star accommodations are houses, apartments or bungalows.

The island doesn’t have any major hotel chains.

Guadeloupe Tourist Attractions

Guadeloupe’s main island is actually two islands connected by a mangrove swamp. The islands are Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre.

Grande-Terre is the eastern half with rolling hills, flat plains and a series of beach towns. It has the capital and main cruise port at Pointe-a-Pitre.

Basse-Terre is the western half. It has the national park including the 4,977-foot-tall La Soufrière (Sulphur) volcano, hiking trails and the Jacques Cousteau underwater reserve.

In addition, Guadeloupe has a number of smaller nearby islands including La Desirada, Grande Anse, Lies de la Petite Terre, Marie-Galante, Grande-Bourge and Lies des Saintes.

Pointe-a-Pitre is the main commercial center, airport and seaport for the country. Ferries are available to take visitors among the islands of Guadeloupe as well as nearby St. Lucia, Martinique and Dominica. The ferry to Martinique takes three hours.

La Grande Soufrière
La Grande Soufrière dominates the distant horizon of Guadeloupe. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Because it is a French territory—part of the French West Indies—Guadeloupe is known for its fine dining and clothing-optional beaches.

Guadeloupe National Park is the seventh largest French national park in the world and one of the biggest attractions on the main island. It is about 30 minutes southwest of Pointe-a-Pitre.

Waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre are popular with tourists. Some are located within a short distance of parking lots, while others require several hours of hiking. Carbet Falls, which consists of three cascading sets of falls, is on the Carbet River.

Tours of rum distilleries are popular. Other attractions include the Botanical Gardens on Basse-Terre, shopping in Pointe-a-Pitre and touring other cities and towns on the island.

Best Beaches

Grande Anse beach is the largest and most famous beach on the islands. It is 25 miles west of Pointe-a-Pitre and home to several small hotels.

Raisins Clairs is one of the better beaches on the southern coast near Pointe-a-Pitre. Pointe des Chateau is loaded with secluded fine sand beaches.

Anse Betrand is on the northern coast near a small fishing village. While the beach is not the most secluded on the island, it doesn’t have bars, hotels or shopping malls for anyone who wants to avoid crowds.

Anse du Souffleur on the northern coast, is home to the authentic village of Port Louis. Port Louis is a cruise port with a nightlife, shopping and restaurants. The duty free shopping is one benefit. Another is several nice hiking trails located nearby..

Sainte Anne is known as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The beach is public and has open-air cafes and restaurants. The beach is in the heart of downtown Sainte Anne.

Tourism / When to Go

Weather is a major factor in when to visit Guadeloupe. The island receives more rainfall each year than many other Caribbean destinations.

But it is the high rainfall that creates some of the most popular reasons to visit the island including waterfalls and lush rainforests.

December through June during the dry season are the best and most popular months to go. August through November during the rainy season are the least popular months.

All stopover visitors require a passport. Overnight visitors will have to fill out an immigration form with details of their stay. They also need a return ticket.

Cruise visitors simply need to have their ship IDs available when leaving the ship and returning.

Guadeloupe Vacation Weather

Guadeloupe average monthly rainfall
© Scott S. Bateman

The average monthly high temperature ranges between 84 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, according to Meteo France. The average monthly low ranges between 68 and 75 degrees.

Rainfall historically ranges from less than three inches in February and March to more than eight inches in September through November. August receives almost as much rain with an average of 7.7 inches.

The climate is subtropical tempered by trade winds. The humidity is moderately high.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

The national currency is the Euro because the island is a territory of France. Hotels, many restaurants and other services accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Most currencies can be exchanged at local banks. Many ATMs accept international bank cards. Guadeloupe follows the common practice in the Caribbean of 10-15 percent tips on services such as hotels and restaurants.

But some places automatically add a gratuity while others such as all-inclusive resorts do not allow tipping at all. Hotels have a 10-15 percent room tax.

Culture / Geography

Sugar production and tourism are key industries, with most tourists from the US. The islands are seeing an increasing number of cruise ships.

French is the official language, but English and Creole patois are common. Most of the islands are volcanic except for Grande-Terre.

Sources / More Information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the America.
March 26, 2024