Guadeloupe Things to Do Tips by Pieter11 Top 5 Page for this destination
Guadeloupe Things to Do: 121 reviews and 322 photos
A great view of the west of Basse-Terre
When you look at the island of Guadeloupe as a butterfly, the western wing of it is Basse-Terre. The name litterly translated means "Low-Land", but the island is completely the opposite. Christopher Colombus gave it its name because of the "low wind" around the island. In fact Basse-Terre is the highest part of the whole archipelago, with the volcano La Soufrière as its highest peak (1467 m).
Basse-Terre clearly is the most beautiful part of the "Guadeloupe-twin". Different from Grande-Terre you'll find real tropical vegetation here, with the Parc National de la Guadeloupe as the centre of this beauty. This park protects one of the biggest tropical rainforests on the small Antilles in which a lot of natural treasures are hidden.
Among these natural treasures are several waterfalls, where it is often possible to take a dip in the clear, fresh waters. Several impressive and well prepared hikes will lead you to these cascades. And apart from this, you can climb the Soufrière; the highest point of the island, or make a hike through other parts of the forest.
And last but not least: Basse-Terre also has a lot to offer at its coastline. The Parc National Jacques Cousteau is a famous diving spot in the very west of the island, and all along Basse-Terre's coastline you'll find charming beaches, from large and touristy to small and hidden ones.
Address: Basse-Terre, La Guadeloupe
Directions: The western part of the butterfly Guadeloupe
The Route de la Traversée on Basse-Terre
The Route de la Traversée definitely is the most beautiful road on the island of Guadeloupe. It basically is the second road on Basse-Terre: there is a coastal road that is surrounding the whole island. The Route de la Traversée is the connection between the east- and westside, passing through the interior of the island.
In the 18th century already, there were plans to build this road: it would be a possibility to create a much faster connection between Pointe-à-Pitre and the westcoast, and to access the inlands where the people still didn't have any access to "the modern world". But: there always was the huge problem of the terrain. The inland of Basse-Terre is very mountainous and is covered by rainforest. This made the construction almost impossible.
In 1970 the construction of the road was finally completed. The result was spectacular: rainforest on both sides where you're driving here and great views of both coastlines. Today the Route de la Traversée is a very important tourist destination, since there are several popular attractions around this road: waterfalls, a zoo, rainforest and viewpoints...
Address: Route de la Traversée, Basse-Terre
Cascades aux Écrevisses
At the eastern end of the Route de la Traversée one of the smaller, but also one of the most popular waterfalls of Guadeloupe can be found: the Cascades aux Écrevisses. A few kilometres after entering the Parc National de la Guadeloupe, with its impressive rainforest, the waterfall is hidden in the green forest.
A short walk of about five minutes over a well paved path leads you to a small platform from where you have a good view of the waterfall. Unfortunately during weekends and holidays this platform can be pretty crowded with tourists. The solution: leave the platform and have a walk over the slippery rocks to get a closer and more unspoiled view.
The falls are not that spectacular in fact but especially the environment is great: the jungle around here is greener then green, the bamboo's are huge and every piece of tree-trunk is covered with little green leaves and little water drops. And of course the fact that it is only five minutes away from the great Route de la Traversée makes it an easy stop.
Address: Cascades aux Écrevisses, Petit-Bourg, Basse-Terre
Lost in the jungle at Maison de la Fôret
In the heart of the Parc National de la Guadeloupe you'll find the "Maison de la Fôret", the House of the Forest. This is a very interesting spot on Basse-Terre, but not because of the "House" you would expect here, but because of what lies behind it. Here you can hike through the great rainforest of the island.
The actual House of the Forest is nothing more then a small information centre and the way to the suspension bridge leading you to the real jungle. As soon as you cross this bridge you enter a great, green environment with hundreds of different species of trees and plants: huge bamboos, firns, lots of different kinds of palms and some enormous monumental trees, and also with lots of animals: butterflies, lizards, birds, but also racoons can be spotted here.
The easiest route you can take here is a 20 minutes walk through the jungle. Longer walks are also possible: 1,5 hours, 3 hours or even a long hike of 5 hours through the area. Pay attention to take decent shoes: even when the day is hot and dry, in the jungle it'll always be wet and slippery.
Address: Maison de la Fôret, Route de la Traversée
The view from Morne Saint-Louis
The island Basse-Terre is famous for the great views you can have from its peaks in the Parc National de la Guadeloupe. From inside the rainforest you can have views until the coastline where the blue of the Caribbean Sea contrasts wonderfully with the green of the jungle. These views can be reached, but it's not always easy.
The most famous viewpoint is La Soufrière, the highest point of the island. However, this volcano is also famous for the big ring of clouds that hides the top almost always, and therefore also the view. Another option are the two peaks of Les Mamelles, in the heart of the island, but to get here you'll need to make a hike of at least two hours.
The easiest option you'll find here is the Morne Saint-Loui: a hill at only 5 kilometres west of the Maison de la Fôret and Les Mamelles. Here you can climb up by car and enjoy the view without being completely sweaty and tired. From the top the view is hidden, but from the side of the road you have great views of the westcoast below you.
The road towards the Morne Saint-Louis is clearly indicated and fits perfectly in a trip along the Route de la Traversée.
Address: Morne Saint-Louis, Route de la Traversée, B-T
A racoon in the Parc des Mamelles
At the western end of the Route de la Traversée you'll find the zoo and attractionpark Parc des Mamelles, named after the two famous peaks that are just a few kilometres away. The park might feel a little bit too touristy for some visitors, but it still is a nice way to get an insight in the wildlife of the island and for children it is a fantastic place.
The most important attraction of the park are its animals. The true symbol of the National Park de la Guadeloupe, the racoon, is the most famous inhabitant of the park. These animals live in a nice area, unlike some other animals who sometimes are put in depressing cages. Some of these animals are parrots and monkeys. The iguana's, butterflies and some other birds luckily are better of.
Besides the animals, La Canopée is the other big attraction of Les Mamelles. This is a canopy-walk, a walkway that leads you through the tops of trees. The walkway here is extremely long: it takes you an exciting 15 minutes to complete track. For children there is a separate walkway: less high and easier to walk.
A ticket to the park costs 11,50 euro for adults and 4,50 for children. Not cheap, but if you like animals and if you are willing to take your time and spend at least 3 hours here it can be worth the money.
Address: Parc des Mamelles, Route dl Traversée, Basse-Terre
The Ilets Pigeots at Basse-Terre's westcoast
One of the most popular areas of Basse-Terre for tourists is the westcoast around the town called Bouillante. Here you'll find an interesting combination of natural elements which make this region very special.
First of all you'll find the Jacques Cousteau Reserve here: a protected piece of underwater-world named after the world famous French diver and biologist. This reserve is located around the two "Ilets Pigeots": two small islands just a few hundred metres off shore. The wildlife here is told to be spectacular, and is known as the best diving spot on the archipelago. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to check it out myself.
Another thing the area is famous for are the results of volcanic activity that are very clear here. First of all you can see several hot-water spring around here. The name Bouillante means Boiling in French and is referring directly to the hot-water river that ends up here. Stories go that you can boil an egg in here.
And another proof of volcanic history is the popular black-sand beach of Malendure that is located only a few hundred metres south of the connection of the Route de la Traversée to the coastal road.
Address: Bouillante, Basse-Terre
Huge waves at the Plage de Grande Anse
The northwest coast of Basse-Terre is one of the areas with the nicest beaches on Guadeloupe. You can find beaches of several different kinds here: the black sand beach of Malendure, quiet beaches in hidden bays, or the most famous and popular of all: the Plage de Grande Anse.
The Plage de Grande Anse is a very wide beach situated just outside the town of Deshaies. From the coastal road around the island you can already have a stunning view of the bay from up above. Down below you'll be surprised to see how big the beach is: a total length of over a kilometre!
Besides the blonde sand and the blue sky, the Plage de Grande Anse offers nice views of the surroundings and the volcanic island of Montserrat that seems very close here. But besides all this, the huge waves here are an attraction as well. For surfers it might not be the best place because the waves are too close to the beach, but if you just want to play in the waves and want to have an extreme swim, this is the place!
At the Plage de Grande Anse there are several restaurant, snack bars and bars, so it's a perfect place for a nice day at the beach.
Address: Plage de Grande Anse, Deshaies, Basse-Terre
The second Chutes de Carbet
One of the most spectacular places to visit on Guadeloupe definitely are the falls of (chutes de) Carbet. They are situated at the eastern slope of the Soufrière volcano. A river seeks its way down through the limestone of the area and ends up falling deeply for three times. Several hikes through the valley will lead you to these falls.
The easiest to visit and therefore the most popular are the "second falls". All three falls known by the number: the first one is the highest up the mountain, the third is much further down. And so: the second one is pretty much in the middle. You can get there by driving up a spectacular road and from the visitors centre it takes a walk of about 15 minutes to get to the viewpoint. Unfortunately this viewpoint was blocked due to the damage hurricane Omar did to it, but nevertheless the falls with a height of 110 metres is impressive.
The other two falls of Carbet will take a little bit more effort to visit. The highest of all, the first falls, can be seen after a hike of 1,5 hours, but then you have a view of falls of 125 metres of height. And the last one, the third, are an hour hiking away, but although these are only 20 metres high, the natural swimmingpool at its base is said to be fantastic.
The entrance fee for the site is 2 euro's per person, and the path to the second falls is very well maintained and possible to do on flip-flops. To all the other falls you'll need to take good shoes, water and raingear because in a rainforest like this you never know what's waiting for you.
Address: Chutes de Carbet, Saint-Sauveur, Basse-Terre
Directions: From the coastal road around the island, the N1, take the exit in Saint-Sauveur towards the D4. Follow this fantastic road and you'll end up at the visitors centre.
The beautiful beaches of Grande-Terre: I was there
Grande-Terre is the eastern wing of the butterfly Guadeloupe. It is not, like the name would indicate, the biggest of the two: it gets its name from the fact that the wind at this part is “bigger” because it is a flat island. Grande-Terre is, unlike Basse-Terre, of coral-origin and not of volcanic origin. This results in a pretty flat island with a very pleasant climate.
Grande-Terre can be roughly devided in to four pieces: the first of which is the southern coastline. This is the most popular area with tourists because of the long beaches, the palmtrees, the hotels and the restaurants you find here. This area is the most involved of the whole of Guadeloupe: the roads are good and all facilities are here.
The middle and north of the island are very different. There is hardly any tourism here and the enphasis here is on the rough nature. In the middle you’ll find sugarcane-plantations and green hills in a very interesting landscape, and in the north you’ll find beaches with high waves –ideal for surfers- and high cliffs.
And the last part again is very different from all the rest: the big city Pointe-à-Pitre where you’ll find the business centre, the port and the centre of all transportation in and to Guadeloupe. Here, you get right in the middle of big-city-life all of a sudden.
Directions: The eastern part of the twin Guadeloupe.
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