Located in the northwest of Mexico, Guadeloupe Island represents one of the most remote paradises of the continental territory of the country. It is also considered one of the best places in the world for the sighting of the king of the seven seas, the Great White Shark.
Created by strong volcanic activity, Guadeloupe was since ancient times the place of pirates, explorers, and fishing boats that arrived on the island as a stop for the supply of water, rest, or fishing for their great voyages.
Now that you know where is Guadeloupe, you should also know that Guadeloupe has two main islands with numerous smaller ones and Basse-Terre is the capital of the island, the other important one is Grande-Terre. Although the island is in Caribbean territory, Guadeloupe became a department of France but with a distinctly Caribbean touch, making it the perfect destination for sun lovers and gourmets. But, there are also things to know before going to Guadeloupe, so next, I'll tell you everything.
1. Natural challenges
In Guadeloupe, natural disasters are very important data to take into account. From time to time, the inhabitants experience cyclones, tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
The earthquake that occurred in 2004, with an intensity of 6.3 on the Richter scale, was particularly noticeable in Saintes, where it left one dead in Trois-Rivieres (in Basse-Terre), dozens of destroyed or damaged homes and roads shattered. Another 7.3 earthquakes affected Guadeloupe and the Antilles in 2007. On that occasion, the damage was mainly concentrated on the island of Martinique.
That same year, 2007, Cyclone Dean caused considerable damage in Guadeloupe, including landslides. As for the La Soufriere volcano, it can be said that, for now, it is "asleep", and that it is something that Guadeloupeans have learned to live with.
As you know, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are natural events that cannot be predicted, but the hurricane season can be taken into account. That said, the best time to travel to Guadeloupe are the dry months between December and April, with winds that maintain a pleasant climate. The hot and humid season is the time when hurricanes can occur and are usually between June and November.
2. When to travel to Guadeloupe
In the previous section, I told you when to travel to Guadeloupe, and I advised you to choose the dry season to go to discover the archipelago to avoid hurricanes and to be able to do, for example, hiking, as well as many other nautical activities. Even so, the island offers different activities throughout the year, depending on the months and it would be good if you know this beforehand in case you go to the island in search of something specific. Next, are some of the activities that you can do in the dry season.
If you are looking to go hiking, you can enjoy a walk through the impressive landscapes of Guadeloupe, between tropical forests, waterfalls, and mountains. If you are one of those brave hikers, come on the GRG1 trail. If not, you will also find other paths more suited to your tastes. Come preferably between December and April.
If your interest is doing water sports, then enjoy your stay in Guadeloupe to try water skiing, catamaran, or other water sports that can be practised here. Come for a ride on a sailboat, and try bodyboarding and kitesurfing. Of course, you can also enjoy fishing and catching sharks, tuna, and other species. Come between December and April to take advantage of the many nautical activities that the archipelago offers.
If your interest is wildlife observation, then nature lovers are going to be ingrained in Guadalupe. Insects, fish, and birds are abundantly found on the island, and you can observe them in the reserves and animal parks. You will come across iguanas, mongooses, and raccoons. In the waters, you will see shrimp, lobsters and Sphyraena, and even lemon sharks. Go on a trip, preferably between December and April.
If you are a very active person and you like fast trips, you will have to stop a bit at one of the beaches of Guadalupe; they are really beautiful. Wherever you go through the archipelago, you will find a paradisiacal beach waiting for you. Come best during the dry season, between December and April, to avoid a downpour from spoiling your relaxing time in the sun.
Guadalupe is also a paradise for scuba divers and has numerous dive sites. Come along the coasts of Vent or the northwest of Basse-Terre, or also those of Sec Pate. Enjoy contemplating the impressive coral gardens, shipwrecks, caves, and of course, the countless fish. Come preferably between December and April.
3. What to pack to go to Guadeloupe?
Do not feel any pressure when preparing your luggage, in Guadeloupe you can buy anything that you have forgotten to include in your suitcase.
Depending on the date you travel to Guadeloupe island, it may be quite hot during your stay. Therefore, include light and fresh clothing to withstand the high temperatures and something a bit warmer in case it gets chilly at night. To relax on its beautiful white sand beaches surrounded by coconut trees you will only need swimwear. And if you want to go hiking, take appropriate footwear.
You don't need to over-equip your medicine cabinet either. In any of the pharmacies in Guadeloupe, you will find all the basic medicines, such as pills for headaches. Includes mosquito repellent and sun protection cream.
You should carry your credit card instead of a wallet full of money, although you can exchange cash in banks, hotels, and the airport. Also, a camera with enough memory cards is essential to return home with a great memory. Take just in case a photocopy of your documentation, on paper, and digitally to avoid unforeseen events.
4. Calculate your budget before travelling to Guadeloupe
Before starting to talk about this matter, it should be remembered that there is a large price difference between the high season and the low season. As in all the islands of the planet, the prices that you will find throughout your stay in Guadeloupe will be higher than in the continental territory. The difference in some everyday products is over 400%.
As for accommodation, Guadeloupe has enough infrastructure for everyone to find what best suits their needs. Fortunately, the competition is very strong, and there are sometimes very good all-inclusive offers. Outside of these offers, prices skyrocket.
Regarding food, buying your food and consuming only local products is the cheapest solution. In restaurants, as in hotels, most prices are similar to those of European countries, but everything is a bit more expensive and, of course, the rates are higher in the more prestigious establishments.
If you travel to Guadeloupe and want to stay without great luxuries, you will find establishments where double rooms are offered from $80 per night. If you are looking for more comfort and stay in more charming places, you will have to pay the price between $100 and $200 per night. Above that, you will have access to all the comforts you want. To eat, you will have all the options in the world.
Shopping in local markets is a good way to sample local produce, and it is not too expensive. Be very careful with imported products; some have a price of up to 5 times higher than their place of origin. In the small local restaurants, you can have lunch and dinner with typical dishes for between $20 and $30. Regarding the most tourist establishments, a dish can cost between $30 and $70 depending on its prestige.
5. Religion and beliefs in Guadeloupe
Other things to know before going to Guadeloupe is that, in the same way, that happens in many countries both on the American continent and Africa, during your trip to Guadeloupe, you will realize that here the religious fervour is exaggerated. In Guadeloupe, almost all religions have their participation.
You will not see many Hindus, Muslims, and Catholics, but you may come across some of them. And on the contrary, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Evangelicals, Adventists, Methodists are gaining more and more space.
If you are in Guadeloupe on a Sunday, you will undoubtedly be stunned to discover how fervent they are inviting to weekly Masses. Every Sunday men, women, and children wear their best clothes; women also groom themselves especially and wear hats. Don't think too much about it; you can go to see one of these Masses even if you are not very believers or are non-believers. Occasionally, these events can even last several hours. You will hardly get bored at all, listening to the fabulous chants and attending this fascinating moment.
But, although the people of the island are very religious and very practising, the majority of Guadeloupeans do not hesitate to add a series of parallel and hidden practices in their worship. They often consult voodoo priests about their sentimental or financial affairs. And each time, they seek to solve all their problems based on amulets, potions, or evil spells.
These beliefs and rites are widely followed, the cult of spirits being important in Guadalupe. During your trip, you will hear countless stories about it. And no mockery or disparagement of these rites and beliefs will be accepted either. You will probably offend them because everyone there unquestionably believes in these practices.
6. Entry requirements to the Guadeloupe Island
Tourists from the EU will not need a visa to travel to Guadeloupe island. To enter there, a valid ID or passport will enough. As for Canadians, and for stays shorter than 90 days, they also do not need a visa, and a passport will suffice.
In other words, they are the same visa requirements as for France. Citizens of Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay do not require a visa for stays of less than 3 months. Spaniards do not require a visa either because it is a territory linked to the European Union. For more information, you can visit official sources: foreign and health ministries, embassies, etc.
Check if you need a visa to travel to Guadeloupe, indicating your nationality, and you can get it online in a very short time. As for vaccines, no special health prevention is needed for this destination. Even so, for more information on health and vaccines, I advise you to visit the Ministry of Health of your city or vaccination centres to consult with professionals since you will be going to a tropical destination.
As extra information data, I tell you that the official currency is the euro if you go with dollars be careful with the price they make. Many times, someone will offer to take you to an exchange house to pay in local money, but if you insist you can also pay with USD.
7. The other face of the Guadeloupeans
Talking to many travellers, we have come to the conclusion that Guadeloupeans, in general, are friendly and hospitable. And they love to laugh and joke around. They speak in French, and a local Creole is also spoken, a mix between French and the languages of the slaves during colonization. This is a language impossible to understand unless you have a trained ear.
Here, people have a calmer and more relaxed life compared to French people living in mainland France. Despite this, you should know that they tend to prefer to have distance from tourists, that is, if they want to avoid you, they will and many of them do not like you to speak to them in English. And this is where I wanted to get to many tourists who have had problems with the people of Guadeloupe for very insignificant reasons. Many have realized the inherent aggressiveness in the character of the people of the country and how conservative they can be.
As you can see, the welcoming, friendly, and cheerful people who love to laugh that I was talking about at the beginning are just one side of the coin. The other side hides a point of aggressiveness, certain racism against white people, and a mentality that can be very narrow and as small as the territory where they live.
Logically, each person is a world, and it is not fair to judge an entire community by generalizing in this way. Unfortunately, after talking to many people, I have been able to verify that Guadeloupe is famous not only for being a beautiful and paradisiacal place but also for the "special and particular" character of its people. Therefore, I find it interesting to highlight this and that you have it as the things to know before going to Guadeloupe to try to avoid disturbing the residents and avoid having a bad time.
8. Is the island of Guadeloupe safe?
The crime rate is low in this country, and most travellers find no problems. However, small crimes can happen, such as thefts that can occur in any tourist area.
You should always be vigilant for your safety so keep your valuables out of sight to avoid being an easy target. Also, protect your important documents, such as your passport. And regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, avoid walking alone at night. Avoid isolated areas, including beaches. Also, do not accept drinks or food from strangers and never leave your drinks out of their sight.
In short, try to be cautious as always, you do not need to be defensive all the time, just be careful as if you were in your own city.
9. How to reach to Guadalupe Island?
Guadeloupe Island has an international airport, the Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (PTP) which is connected with regular flights to Europe, the Caribbean, and North America (America and Canada). The airport is located a few kilometres west of the city of Pointe-a-Pitre on the island of Grande-Terre, that is, on the second most important island of Guadeloupe after Basse-Terre.
All regular flights from Europe depart from France. Air France flights to Guadeloupe depart from Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports. While Air Caraibes and Corsair International flights depart from Paris-Orly.
For those travelling from Spain, it may be convenient to take a flight departing from various Spanish cities to Paris and then to Guadeloupe. The average flight time between Spain and Guadeloupe varies between 10 and 12 hours.
10. How to get around Guadalupe Island?
If you have a pleasure boat skipper license, it is worth renting a boat and touring its coast.
But to move around the island, you can rent a car or move by taxi; many choose to do it by taxi since if you rent a car, you must also pay for gasoline and the price in total, it is usually more expensive to rent than to rent a taxi with a driver.
Without a doubt, if you travel to Guadeloupe island, you will really enjoy its beaches, its typical foods, and all the great activities that the island offers, including swimming with sharks! But don't forget that there are things to know before going to Guadeloupe.