You can easily find Guadeloupe on the map of the Caribbean – it resembles an exotic butterfly just between Antigua and Dominica. It has spread its wings, its 2 largest islands Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. A 4 mile narrow channel the Riviere Salee connects the Caribbean and the Atlantic forms the “body” of the butterfly. The islands are connected by the drawbridge.
The 2 islands truly create the perfect balance between the busy and bustling resort life with tourists, casinos, gift shops,full restaurants, loud music of Grande terre and Basse-Terre with its Parc National de Guadeloupe with picture perfect waterfalls, natural trails, and lush greenery. This is the place where you can have it all especially when you explore it on charter yacht cruise.
To be more precise, it contains 12 islands and are a part of Leeward Islands, as the name suggests islands down the prevailing trade winds in the region.
It is considered to be one of the most attractive destinations in the Caribbean, and you will be able to see with your own eyes why, while enjoying the leisurely sailing around the islands.
When is the best time to visit Guadeloupe?
Guadeloupe is blessed with comfortable temperatures throughout the year. The best time to travel to Guadeloupe is December to May with lots of sunny days and pleasant breezes. This time of year is the busiest here which is reflected in the highret prices at the hotels and resorts. At this time you will enjoy all the tourist attractions to their best with everything open extended hours.
Stay away from the island August to September when powerful Caribbean hurricanes batter the island.
Guadeloupe is a part of France now. It was named by Christopher Columbus after Santa Maria de Guadalupe in 1493. After Virgin Mary venerated in the Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe in Extremadura, Spain, where he made his first pilgrimage after discovering America.
The local arawak population called it Karukera, or “the island of beautiful waters”
The group of islands became Spanish until 1635, when it came under the French rule and became a colony. The local population, caribs, as they resisted the new first Spanish, then French settlers were driven away and slaves were brought to work on the sugar coffee and cocoa plantations, which became the main export goods.
The wealthy colony have changed hands a few times from French to English and back until finally in 1816 it officially became French territory. Guadeloupe follows the French legal code, uses French Flag and French postal system, and, of course, French is its official language.Its government buildings fly the flag of France.
Marina Bas Du Fort
The picturesque setting of the Marina Bas Du Fort is simply impressive. The layout is ideal and it can accommodate up to 1000 slips with draught up to 4m and equipped with fully serviced piers, and offers security surveillance. It is also a great meeting point and start of many bareboat charter trips, and yacht cruises, as well as yacht-trips. This is where our trips to Guadeloupe start and where they end.
It is only 6 km from the airport and Pointe-a-Pitre, so once you have settled on your yacht you can head back and explore the city for a bit. While doing this just keep in mind that the traffic around Pointe-a Pitre can be simply horrible, and if you are stuck in a taxi during this time it can quickly add up. It is better to plan your trip in off rush hour time. Pointe-a-Pitre is also known as not the best place to be in the evening.
It is believed the name of the city comes from the name of a Dutch sailor named Pieter, who settled here, just south of the downtown of today’s city. The location was simply perfect for a city, as it is located at the crossroads connecting Guadeloupe’s two main ‘island’ districts (Basse-Terre Island and Grande Terre). But swampy lowlands were the obstacle until 1764 when by royal edict, the swamps were drained. In the subsequent years the city was destroyed by fire, earthquakes, suffered from cholera epidemics and hurricanes, but was rebuilt and restored quite a few times since.
Place de la Victoire is the true heart of the city with its distinctive architecture with wooden buildings with balconies and shutter covered windows. The sidewalk cafes are full with tourists during the tourist season and bursting with life. If you want to watch locals interact and to get some local wares and produce, head to the market, located between rue St John Perse, Frebault, Schoelcher and Peynier.
Cathédrale de St-Pierre et St.Paul is a local landmark, it only dates back to 1807, as the previous basilicas were destroyed by fire and earthquakes. It is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows glowing in the tropical sun and creole style balconies, so common for local architecture.
A visit to Aquarium de Guadalupe, located near the marina will take only up to an hour t- but you will have a great idea of a wealth of sea life in Guadeloupe and the Antilles. It is also a rescue center for sea turtles. Its shark tank is simply spectacular.
Maria Galante is a picturesque island located 44 km from Pointe-a-Pitre. It is only inhabited by 11.000 population. It was a second island after Dominica, encountered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage, and he called it after his flagship. The island was developing as sugar cane plantations, the slaves were brought in to cultivate the land, cut the cane and work on sugar cane presses.
Marie Galante offers a very picturesque destination, when approached by charter yacht: high cliffs to the north, sandy beaches and mangroves stretch to the west along the Caribbean Sea, to the south the plateau descends towards the Atlantic Ocean protected by the coral reef.
Marie-Galante is famous for its beaches Anse Canot, Plage de Folle Anse, Petite Anse. Petite Anse is also a departing point for scuba diving in one of the best diving spots in the region
If you feel like learning a bit about the island’s past stop by at Ecomusee de Marie Galante or Delices de Siblet Sugar Factory, where you can see the sugar cane farming and sugar production process.
You will definitely enjoy a casual stroll among the lush greenery of Jardin de Buckingham or Jardin de l’Habitation Murat. If you love hiking – a nature trail will take you around the island, where on the way you will see 2 restored windmills (the Bézard Mill and the Bellevue Distillery), old colonial buildings and heritage sugar refineries (the Murat House and Mill). It indeed is the true way to explore the island and take in its people’s history.
Once the sugar cane industry have become no longer important, the population of the island have shrunk by third. Tourism, with the focus on preserving natural habitats of the island’s wildlife and plants and preserving its history have become the main sources of income for the locals.
Archipelago of Les Saintes (Îles des Saintes)
Iles des Saintes, is a volcanic archipelago, consisting of only 2 larger islands: Terre-de-Haut Island and Terre-de-Bas Island, and 6 islets. The islands are encircled by shallow reefs. The islands are very rocky, and they vere never inhabited because of the lack of fresh water source, however they were frequented by locals for hunting and fishing trips.
Unpopulated and isolated they make a beautiful scenery for sailing around with their tall peaks towering from pristine waters and wealth of undisturbed wildlife. Back in 2001 les Saintes have been accepted to The Most Beautiful bays of the World. The islands offer plenty of natural harbours and anchorages, and are to be admired at a guiet pace of the sailboat navigating its waters.
Green iguanas roaming freely here are the symbol of the islands, also populated with birds including the bananaquit, yellow-headed blackbird, dickcissel, blue-headed hummingbird, green-throated carib; purple-throated carib, and blue-tailed emerald.
Humpback whales, sperm whales and killer whales can be seen in Les Saintes passage, when they migrate to the warm seas of Antilles.
Cars are very rare on the Iles des Saints, if you want to explore a bit more inland – scooter is the way to do it. Here are some places to see in Terre-de-Haut:
- “Caroline Artillery battery” located on Morel hill and “Modele Tower” on Cameau hill
- The lighthouse
- The “Bateau des îles” – the iconic house in shape of bow of a ship, a local curiosity
- The chapel of the Calvary
- The square of the Governor Lion lined with the rows of multicolored houses in creole style
- Fort Napoleon
Fort Napoleon is an exciting place for a little tour. Located on the top of the cliff it was originally called fort Luis, then destroyed by the English troops and rebuilt under the nale fort Napoleon (after Napoleon the IIIrd). It now houses the museum dedicated to the Iles Des Saintes history, traditions and nature. It is also a home to the Jardin exotique du Fort Napoléon with its lovely collection of succulent plants and iguanas doing so well under the tropical sun.
No matter what side you are exploring Terre-de-Haut in land or by sea, you are sure to find a great beach nearby!
Anse Crawen and Grand Anse Devan on the west coast, Anse Rodrigue on South East coast, Grande Anse on East coast Les Pompierres on the north coast and Pont-Pierre Beach on the north east beach.
Parc National de Guadeloupe, Basse -Terre
Guadeloupe National park was created back in 1970 and is recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. The core area of the park takes up a 10% of Guadeloupe territory. The highest point in the park is the summit of La Soufrière,which is an active volcano, which have erupted as recent as 1979.
The natural park stretches across different elevations offering shelter to a variety of tropical forest biospheres. It also boasts wast mangrove swamp lands and coastal forest.
The hiking trail map will take you through the best spots of the tropical forest. Cascade aux Ecrevisses is considered to be the jem of the park, the most visited and most admired place by the tourists. Carbet falls, located right on the slopes of the volcano is yet another best kept secret of the National park. The first cascade drops over 125 meters, the second drop is yet another 110 meters. It was even noted in Christopher Columbus logbook.
After a few busy days at sea islet Gosier will seem like a paradise resting away from the crowds in the ocean, surrounded by picture perfect coral reefs. The name of the island comes from pelicans – gosier, that are nearly extinct now. The nearby town Gosier has been a coveted tourist destination for a while, attracting tourist crowds, and was given a makeover with an attempt to create modern, look perceived as comfortable for tourists.
Now the development have changed to its more natural, authentic flavor with traditional creole houses. Their front porches giving shade to the residents and guests in the hot summer days, and high gabled roofs, along with brightly colored facade, have become staples of the style, and are simply perfect for the climate and are pleasing to the eye.The beaches here are right in town: La Datcha and Anse Tabarin.
The uninhabited islet Gosier itself is nearby with just a little restaurant on it, which is not even open every day. The surrounding reefs make it a fantastic place for snorkeling. Spend an unforgettable day among the coral reef! This is definitely the place to do it!
After an intense schedule of the trip the yacht will head back to the Marina Bas Du Fort at Pointe-a-Pitre. It is truly one of those cruises that has it all, a bit of history, spectacular tropical nature, coral reef snorkeling and lazy time at sea, that lets it all to sink in. Another eventful trip on board the yacht is behind, bringing unforgettable memories of a lifetime. This surprising butterfly-shaped archipelago has enough to offer for a few exciting trips.