Things to do in Guadeloupe FWI

Rédigé le Wednesday, August 6th 2014 à 22:09 | Lu 821 fois



OUTDOORS
Guadeloupe National Park
Tucked amid Basse-Terre's verdant mountain landscape sits the Parc National de la Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe National Park), a 74,100-acre rainforest filled with picturesque walking trails. The park's trails include lush forest foliage, magnificent waterfalls, and the summit of La Soufrière volcano. The trails range from short- to long-distance routes that vary in difficulty. Before you go, you'll want to pick up a Guide to the National Park brochure from the Guadeloupe tourism office (located in St. Claude, Basse-Terre) to map out your journey. If you would prefer to admire the park's natural splendours from behind the wheel, drive along the route de la Traversée, a scenic 16-mile road that cuts through the forest.
The park welcomes visitors Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and admission is free of charge. For more information about the park's trails and weather advisories, consult the park's official website:

La Soufriere Volcano
This volcano is the highest mountain in the Lesser Antilles, part of Guadeloupe National Parc and an important landmark of Guadeloupe's landscape. You will need a car to get to the base of the mountain. Then the trek consists of 2 parts:
1) 40-50 minunite trail through the tropical jungles with lush and wonderful vegetation to the big plateau at the base of volcano;
2) 1,5 hours open-air trail from the base up to the top of volcano. At the top, when the weather is clear, the view of western part of Guadeloupe is breathtaking.
The whole trek can take around 4 hours so plan you day accordingly. Take a backpack, some good shoes, a camera and some food and have fun!

Route de la Traversée
Most of Basse-Terre is covered by tropical rainforest. The Route de la Traversée takes visitors into this world of huge trees (chestnuts, mahogany, figs...), sheltering luxuriant vegetation comprising thick ferns, ficus and other philodendron species. From Pointe-Noire in the west, cross the Guadeloupe national park to Petit-Bourg in the east (around 20 km), pausing for a picnic, a visit to the Parc des Mamelles or the Maison de la Forêt... from where numerous marked footpaths lead off into the forest.

Les Saintes
Les Saintes consists of eight islands skirting Guadeloupe's southern coast. The picturesque cluster gets its name from explorer Christopher Columbus who, after discovering them in the 15th century, named them Los Santos (translated to Les Saintes in French). Terre-de-Haut, the main island—and the biggest of the bunch—features a variety of bistros, shops, and sunny beaches. Head to Anse Crawen, a tranquil beach on Terre-de-Haut often overlooked by tourists.
It’s fairly easy to see all of Terre-de-Haut in a day trip. As there are no cars or tourists the easiest way to get around is by scooter or walking.
A variety of ferry companies offer transport from Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre to Terre-de-Haut. A popular ferry service, L'Express des Isles, offers round-trip rides from Pointe-à-Pitre to Terre-de-Haut everyday for about €42,60 EUR per adult (about $55 USD).

Petite Terre
A day trip to the Islands of Petite Terre is a must while visiting Guadeloupe. Petite Terre is a protected reserve about 20 kilometres south-east of Saint-Francois on the east end of Guadeloupe. There are many companies that run boat trips to the island from Sainte Francois on Grande-Terre. The tour boats anchor in a beautiful lagoon between the two islands where the main attraction is snorkelling. In the lagoon, you may see beautiful fish, turtles, rays, barracudas and harmless small lemon sharks. The current in the lagoon can be strong in some areas so flippers are recommended. On land, the main attraction is the palm tree-lined beach and the iguanas which are all over. You can take an easy 30-minute walk to the lighthouse and nearby shores.

Marie-Galante
Marie-Galante's unspoiled scenery can be found everywhere, from its quaint chateaus to its isolated sands. And its rolling hills—frosted with powdery sands, sugar plantations, and 19th-century windmills—add to its rustic ambiance.
Your first stop should be Grand-Bourg, the island's main settlement (located at the south-western tip of the island) where you'll find a helpful visitor centre. From there, head south to tour the Château Murat, a famed 18th-century plantation that features an exhibit detailing the island's history of sugar cane cultivation and rum-making. The chateau welcomes visitors from around 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free. From here, continue south to Petite-Anse, a golden beach sheltered by sea-grape trees and Le Touloulou, a favored Creole restaurant.
A half-day (8:00 am to 4:00 pm on the island) is doable to see the main highlights.
Marie-Galante is just an hour-long ferry-ride from Pointe-à-Pitre.

La Désirade
On La Desirade, meaning "The Desired One" in French, you'll find cacti, coco-palms, and sea grape trees dotting the island’s sunny beaches, like Souffleur and Baie Mahault. When you need a break from soaking up the rays, pick up a scooter to explore the winding, main road that stretches up to Grande Montagne, the island's tiny village. From Grand Montagne, you'll behold spectacular panoramic views.
You'll find La Désirade just off of Guadeloupe's southern coast and it serves as an excellent place to unwind.. The island sits just five miles from Pointe des Châteaux. Ferries depart daily from St-François (about 25 miles east of Pointe-à-Pitre) to La Désirade.

Pointe des Chateaux
Pointe des Châteaux's striking cliff formations define Grande-Terre's eastern-most edge, marking where the Atlantic Ocean collides with the Caribbean Sea. You'll notice a cluster of hollowed limestone coves, sculpted over time by turbulent winds and rough waves. Once you've hiked to the top to admire the eye-catching cliffs, retreat to Pointe des Châteaux's small beach or visit one of the sandy stretches lining the island's southern shoreline. Plage Tarare is another popular sunning spot for those who like sporting minimal swimwear and sprawling across heaps of white sand. You'll find Plage Tarare on Pointe des Châteaux's northern side.
You can reach Pointe des Châteaux by driving south along N5 from St-François. Along the way, you'll pass Le Moule, a 17th-century coastal destination that once attracted sailors and sugar cane seekers. If you have some spare time, Le Moule is worth exploring.

Plantation and Distillery Tours
For your chocolate, coffee, and rum fixes, you will want to devote some time to touring the islands' plantations and distilleries. You'll find centuries-old plantations peppering the rolling hills of Marie-Galante and the hillsides of Basse-Terre. Among the three distilleries found near Grand-Bourg (Marie-Galante's main town), Distillerie Bielle stands apart as one of the finest, producing a variety of white rhum.
La Bonifierie, a coffee mill, gourmet chocolate producer, and café located in St-Claude, Basse-Terre serves as one of the island's leading chocolatiers, with divine dark and milk chocolates made with 100-percent locally grown cacao. You can reserve a tour of the complex, which includes a buffet and rum tasting. The combined plantation/café welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Its confections and tours will cost you, but roaming through its cozy complex is free of charge. Call 0590/80-06-05 to confirm hours.

Caravelle Beach
On Grande-Terre's southern edge, just southwest of the quaint town of Ste-Anne, you'll find Plage Caravelle's long, sunny stretch. A preferred spot for snorkelers (the reef-protected waters are typically calm), this lovely beach features brilliant turquoise waves and blindingly white sand fit for lounging. When you need a break from the lazing along Caravelle's sparkling sands, check out the nearby Club Med resort, which offers day passes for non-guests who wish to take advantage of the resort's water equipment and restaurant.
Plage Caravelle is a pleasant sunning area, particularly for families. It is easily accessible from Ste-Anne via Route N4.

Grande-Anse Beach
Grande-Anse stands as one of Guadeloupe's finest beaches. Though the beach lacks facilities, you'll be content with its calm waves and its unspoiled mountain scenery. The beach fills up quickly during the weekends, so arrive early if you're hoping to snag a prime sunning spot. If you would rather lay your towel on more isolated sands, head to the powdery shores skirting Les Saintes.
La Grande-Anse sits just over a mile north of the village of Deshaies on Basse-Terre. The easiest way to reach the beach is by driving along the N2. You'll find a parking lot next to the entrance; beach access is free of charge.
La Perle Beach
This beach between Deshaie and Sainte-Rose is the ideal spot for a swim and some chilling out in the sun. A lovely beach with a few restaurants; sea conditions vary from calm to rough (caution is advised).

Zoological and Botanical Park of Guadeloupe
A wildlife-lover's paradise, Basse-Terre's Parc Zoologique et Botanique de la Guadeloupe (Zoological and Botanical Park of Guadeloupe) boasts rare and endangered species, including Ti raccoons, iguanas, and parrots. For a bird's-eye view of tropical flora and fauna, stroll across the park's tree top walks (suspended bridges elevated over 65 feet above the ground). If you would prefer to stay grounded, stroll through the serene botanical garden, which features wild orchids and flamboyant tropical trees.
Guadeloupe National Park is one of Basse-Terre's main attractions. You'll find Parc Zoologique et Botanique de la Guadeloupe located inside the Parc National de la Guadeloupe along the route de la Traversée (D 23) in Basse-Terre. The park welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last admission at 4:30 p.m. Park entrance costs €14.50 EUR (or $19 USD) for adults and €8.50 EUR (about $11 USD) for children ages three through 12; children ages three and under can enter for free. If you would like to explore many sites within the park, consider purchasing a nature pass for €22.50 EUR (approximately $29.50 USD), which grants access to the zoo, an aquarium, and Chutes de Carbet (the park's three tallest and most impressive waterfalls).

Deshaies Botanical Garden
Ferns, palms and cacti each have their own avenue in this polychrome floral extravaganza which also has bougainvillea plus other species, their lively colours embellishing the deep green of the tropical plants. All are watered by rivers, pools and waterfalls, where water lilies bloom and carp thrive, adorned by pink flamingos. Fine aviaries are home to multicoloured parakeets providing their own musical backing to the visit. This is a superb and well-maintained park.

Carbet Waterfalls
These spectacular waterfalls were described by Christopher Colombus in 1493 as "a major water source, drawing water from all sides of the mountain". Their beauty remains untouched against the stunning backdrop of wooded mountainside on the southeastern slopes of La Soufrière. The three falls are not all equally accessible. The second is the most impressive but no longer accessible. Meanwhile, access to the first has been reopened.

La Grande Vigie
The deep blue waters of the ocean are plunged into by an 84m-high limestone cliff at Pointe de la Grande Vigie, marking Guadeloupe's northernmost point. The views are extensive, taking in the islands of Montserrat (to the west), La Désirade (to the east), and even Antigua (to the north) on a clear day. A footpath rounds the point, best walked at sunset when the site reveals itself in its full splendour!

Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin
Between Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre lies the Grand-Cul-de-Sac Marin nature reserve, encompassing both land and sea. From the coastal mangroves to the coral reef forming its boundary lays a rich marine environment in which visitors may be lucky enough to spot a turtle. Discover the mangrove swamps, visit the offshore islands and go snorkelling, courtesy of the boat trips that operate from Sainte-Rose.

Saut d'Acomat
Saut d'Acomat is a waterfall cascading into a splendid natural pool of iridescent reflections, the ideal spot for a refreshing dip. It is easily reached on foot; resist the temptation to dive in, the rocks can be dangerous.

ACTIVITIES
In addition to diving, Guadeloupe offers lots of other activities.
Canopée
This is the area’s best canyoning and hiking company, offering a huge number of trips into the nearby mountains from day trips to two day bivouacs in the rain forest.
Golf Municipal of St-François
St-François, on Grande-Terre, has Guadeloupe’s only golf course, this 18-hole, par-71 course designed by Robert Trent Jones. It’s opposite the marina.


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