We always enjoy exploring small destinations, which offer all kind of diverse things to do and see. We found our piece of paradise recently – Guadeloupe – a small Caribbean island, where you can find much more than just picture-perfect white sandy beaches.
There are so many things to do and see in Guadeloupe you can explore the island for a month and I can bet, you will not even be able to do and see everything. But what should never been missed when traveling to Guadeloupe?
Our 23 best things to do and see in Guadeloupe
1. Beaches in Guadeloupe
Most people visit Guadeloupe and with that Caribbean islands because of its paradise beaches and you will find plenty of them on Guadeloupe. In fact, exploring different beaches and bays is for sure one of the best things to do and see in Guadeloupe. Our favorite beaches in Guadeloupe are Plage Petit Havre, Plage des Amandiers, Plage de Clugny, Plage de Grande Ans, Plage de la Chapelle and the beach on the small island of Gosier. Don’t even miss the volcanic black sandy beach Malendure.
2. Views in Guadeloupe
The main island Guadeloupe has a shape of a butterfly. The left side of the island (Basse Terre) is mountainous and with lush forests and much wilder than the right side of the island (Grande Terre), which is not as hilly and also less green. Both sides of the island offer some nice viewing points, which should definitely get on your list of must things to do and see in Guadeloupe. We visited Pointe des Chateaux, Pointe du Piton, Pointe de la Grande Vigie, Point de Petit Bas-Vent, Pointe Batterie ou Pointe Deshaies.
3. Botanical gardens in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is rich in vegetation so you will be able to find many botanical gardens on the island. We visited the Deshaies botanical garden and loved it. The Deshaies botanical garden is really nice to walk around and learn about the island’s vegetation. One of the best things to do and see in Guadeloupe is taking a selfie with the colorful birds, which can be found in the Deshaies botanical garden. You can find more about the botanical garden here. (Entrance fee 15,90 EUR/adults, 10,90 EUR/kids)
4. Food in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is rich in history, what can also be seen in its food – a mixture of Caribbean, French and African cuisine. We always enjoy tasting new food and that is why we can easily say that tasting the food in Guadeloupe is one of the tastiest things to do and see in Guadeloupe. We have eaten lunch out every day and we never had anything bad on our plates, as everything was extremely delicious. The food includes many spices, but it is not spicy. They use a lot of chicken, pork and fish. You will mainly be served with rice, potato or bananas as a side dish. Don’t forget to taste their street food – sandwich alike Bokit and delicious coconut sorbet. We also put a shine on their Caribbean BBQ – one word – yummy. You can find more about prices of the food in our special post “How to do Guadeloupe on a budget“.
5. Rum distillery
Guadeloupe is well known for its rum. In fact, rum is so usual in Guadeloupe that when you order it, you don’t just get a glass of it, but the whole bottle, so you can decide by yourself how much do you want to have. It is always served with lime juice and sugar cane. You will find many rum distilleries on the island, so tasting tour is one of the best things to do and see in Guadeloupe to learn more about one of the main business. We visited the Bologne Distillery – the tasting tours are set from Monday to Saturday at 10am, 11am and 12am. If you just want to buy their products you can also just visit the shop. The Bologne and Damoiseau are two of the most often served rums in the island.
6. Picturesque towns
Doing a roadtrip around Guadeloupe, you will be able to stop and wander around many small, but interesting towns. They look so cute because of their colorful houses, but we liked best Deshaies town, which should definitely be put on your list of best things to do and see in Guadeloupe.
7. Cocoa museum
Did you know that Guadeloupe Island produces their own cocoa and has its own chocolate? If you want to learn more about chocolate and how it is being made, make sure to stop at the Cocoa museum – we really enjoyed the Maison du Cacao. For non-speaking French visitors, they run an English guided degustation at 3pm. Nevertheless, you can visit the museum and learn more from the learning boards along the path and sweeten your day with tasting of different chocolate, even though the explanations are in French. The Cocoa museum will also be interesting to kids – you can learn more about it here. (Entrance fee 8 EUR/adults, 4 EUR/kids)
8. The Guadeloupe ZOO and Mammals Park
If you will be traveling to Guadeloupe without kids, you might not think to visit the ZOO, but as soon as we walked around it, the ZOO became one of the best things to do and see in Guadeloupe. The Zoo is gorgeous, as it runs on the wooden path, among the vivid green jungle. The Zoo also has amazing canopes – suspension bridges high up in treetops. You can read more about the ZOO in a seperate blog post Guadeloupe for kids. (Entrance fee 15,50 EUR/adults, 9 EUR/kids)
If you enjoy nature, Guadeloupe is the place to be. There are two waterfalls, which you really should not miss when in Guadeloupe – Cascades aux Ecrevisses, which is reachable in 5 minutes by foot and where you can swim (be there early in the morning to avoid the crowds) and Cutes du Carbet inside of the national park (entrance fee 2,50 EUR/adult). The path to the 115 meters high waterfall will take you 20 minutes by foot.
10. Trekking and hiking
Many travelers to Guadeloupe put hiking / trekking high on their list of must things to do and see in Guadeloupe. You will find a true hiking paradise in the western side of the main island (Basse Terre). There are many well marked hiking trails, including the one, taking you up to the active volcano La Soufriere. If you are not really into hiking, you can still take a short, 1,5 kilometers long, path Maison de la Foret.
11. Slavery road
Most of the locals in Guadeloupe are actually descendants of slaves, what means there are many sights connected to slavery in Guadeloupe. We have visited one sight – the formal coffee plantation La Griveliere, which was established in 1726. Once 45 slaves worked there and their living cottages can still be seen today. The sight was open during our visit, but no one was there, so we were guessing it is maybe under construction. What we also enjoyed, was the scenic drive up to the plantation, full with small villages and beautiful views.
12. Louis Delgres Fort
The fort goes back to the 17th century and got its name later, after an important men, who carried on a rebellion against slavery – Louis Delgres. The rebellion was not up to the large French army under Napoleon, so they ended it when blowing themselves up together with French solders too. You will find an interesting monument of Louis Delegres inside of the fort, but the fort is worth visiting also for the views.
There is free entrance fee and you will also get some information about the fort in English at the front door.
13. Palm Trees Avenue
We found these gorgeous looking palm trees avenue by coincident, when driving back to our hotel. When we saw it, we immediately stop there and did some photos. If you’ll be near it, don’t miss it – you can find it south of the Petit-Bourg town – road D33.
14. Surfing and kite-surfing
If you’re keen on surfing or kite-surfing you probably already know that Guadeloupe has some nice areas for this water activities too. We watched the wind-surfers at the Plage de la Saline and surfers at the Plage de Morne Jacques, but there are few more locations for that.
15. Snorkeling and diving
The world bellow water in Guadeloupe is spectacular. You can take part of numerous half-day or full-day snorkeling trips, taking you to nearby islands. These kind of trips are not cheap, but a really nice alternative is the Plage Malendure, where you can already see sea turtles 100 meters off the shore. To top it all up, the Malendure beach has black volcanic sand, what sure makes it even more spectacular and unique. You can also start your diving adventures at the beach, which will take you to different kind of wrecks. Diving and snorkeling is definitely one of the best things to do and see in Guadeloupe.
Did you know that Guadeloupe is not formed just from one island, but is actually an archipelago of more islands? There are many tiny islands around the main one, but you can also find 3 bigger ones too – La Desirades, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. We first planned to visit one as a day trip, but having the rented car, we soon calculated a day trip is just too expensive and we did not want to leave the paid hotel and rented car for a day or two. So if you plan to visit any of the three islands, it would probably be best to stay a night there.
A perfect island for a day trip is the Gosier Island, which is reachable by boat, kayak, ski-jets or swimming, if you are a good swimmer.
17. Sugar cane, bananas and coffee plantations
We have not visited any of the plantations, but you can take part of the guided tour. We just enjoyed the plantations, while driving pass them.
If you ask me, you should plan your travel to Guadeloupe during the carnival time – one of my absolute favorite things to do and see in Guadeloupe. The carnival cannot be compared to the ones in Rio de Janeiro, but seeing one was my childhood dream and I loved it. The carnival in Guadeloupe last almost 3 months (January, February, March). You can admire them in a different town each weekend. We visited the one in Les Abymes.
You will find aquarium in the capital city Pointe-a-Pitre. It is not the biggest you can visit, but traveling to Guadeloupe with kids, you will still enjoy it. You can read more about the aquarium here. I would not go there without kids though.
20. Local markets
I never leave a foreign land without a visit to at least one local market. We visited two in Guadeloupe – the night market in Le Gosier town (each Friday from 4pm to 9pm – great for tasting local food) and fish, veggie/fruit market and market selling the local products. You can also find a market in Sainte-Anne town.
21. ACTe memorial
ACTe memorial is another sight which really impressed me, so make sure to put it on your bucket list of things to do and see in Guadeloupe. The ACTe memorial is all about slavery – but not just the slavery in Guadeloupe, but slavery in general – from its beginnings to today. The whole museum is very interactive and with the right attitude, extremely interesting if you are traveling to Guadeloupe with kids too. You will learn a lot about this dark period in history in the museum – did you know that almost 13 million slaves were brought from Africa? The ACTe memorial is closed on Mondays. (Entrance fee 15 EUR/adults, 5 EUR/kids – including video guide).
Guadeloupe might seem small, but because of its diverse and numerous attractions and sights this Caribbean island is extremely rich and interesting. We spend 10 days in Guadeloupe and we could spend 10 more easily. This blog post is about 23 best things to do in Guadeloupe, but believe me, Guadeloupe offers so much more and is more than perfect also for travelers, not traveling there just for its beaches.