Things to do in Guadeloupe
On both sides of Pointe des Châteaux, Grande-Terre’s most easterly point, are a few beaches that are perfect for a secluded day on the sand. For a drink and a burger or kebab, head for the brightly-painted Le Snack at Anse à la Gourde. But don’t forget the beaches of Basse-Terre. The island’s best is Grande Anse, a kilometre of sugary orange sand and emerald water where you can enjoy a more formal meal at l’Ôtentik.
Jacques Cousteau, father of scuba, developed his love of sports diving off the west coast of Basse-Terre, where the drop-offs are as steep as the mountains on land. At the Cousteau Reserve at Malendure there are snorkel tours and scuba trips to see angel fish, squirrel fish and trunk fish darting through the waters around Pigeon Island.
At the Damoiseau distillery, a working factory in Le Moule in Grande-Terre, you will catch the heady scents of distillation, from crushed sugar-cane grass to evaporating alcohol. They create white, aged and golden rums from rhum agricole, made from cane juice. The story of cocoa is also well told at the Maison du Cacao in Pointe-Noire on Basse-Terre – where cocoa trees were cultivated in the mountains above – from Mayan times to early European chocolate cafés.
The liveliest spot on the island is around the Marina in Gosier (on the south coast of Grande-Terre) overlooking the waterfront. Start out at Zoo Rock Café for early evening drinks, and move on for a crepe at Le Pam Pam or to La Voile Blanche for something more gourmet. If you want to savour the island rhythm, known as zouk, head for l’Appart 971 in Jarry for some live music.
Don’t forget Guadeloupe’s offshore blips. Reached by ferry for a day trip, the prettiest of these are the Saints, where you will arrive among anchored yachts in a sunken (dormant) volcanic crater. Beneath a tiny sugarloaf mountain, Terre-de-Haut is a charming town, but take your swimming costumes because the Plage de Pompierre, just a walk away, is one of the loveliest on the islands.