The two main islands are Grande-Terre, a popular beach and water sports destination, and stunning, mountainous Basse Terre. The two islands are shaped like the wings of a butterfly, connected by several bridges. The smaller islands scattered around them are some of the most untouched spots in the French Caribbean.
Culture in Guadeloupe is a fusion of French, African, Indian and Caribbean influences. The island is renowned for its colourful artwork and music, as well as it’s flavoursome Creole cuisine. Make sure you try local dishes like colombo, an aromatic meat or seafood stew, or crispy seafood fritters known as accras.
Ports in Guadeloupe
To access the amazing beaches and watersports of Grande-Terre, you’ll dock in Pointe-à-Pitre. At first glance it looks like a busy working port city, but start exploring and you’ll encounter elegant pastel-hued buildings, palm-tree lined squares and colourful local markets.
Before you head off to the beach, take time to check out Mémorial ACTe. The museum is a spacious, futuristic-looking building and is dedicated to preserving the memory of slavery and the island’s indigenous people. The exhibitions are fascinating and there’s a memorial park offering beautiful panoramic views of the town and ocean.
Several Guadeloupe cruises disembark at Deshaies, a small town on the island of Basse-Terre. This tranquil port town has a cosmopolitan air, thanks to sailors visiting from around the world. You’ll discover plenty of tasty local restaurants among the rows of colourful houses. There’s even one in the stunning botanical garden, Jardin Botanique de Deshaies, which serves delicious French-Creole cuisine.
Basse-Terre has fewer beaches than Grande-Terre, but Deshaies is right next to one of the best. Visit Grand Anse Beach (not to be confused with Grande Anse Beach in the south of the island), a stretch of golden sand fringed by large palm trees. It has big waves making it a great spot for surfing or bodyboarding and you can grab snacks from local vendors there, too.
If you’re looking for the most unspoilt corner of Guadeloupe, select a cruise that docks in Terre-de-Haut, one of the Les Saintes islands. These tiny islands boast stunning mountains and beautiful beaches with great diving opportunities.
When you arrive in Terre-de-Haut, you’ll find yourself in Les Saintes Bay, which is on UNESCO’s list of the most beautiful bays in the world. Small fishing boats bob on cobalt waters, and the shores are lined with soft white sand.
What are the best cruise ships for a Guadeloupe cruise?
With so many ships servicing the Caribbean, it can be hard to know which to choose. Here are two choices offering fantastic amenities:
The streamlined Marella Explorer offers 5* luxury, and a plenty of activities to keep you entertained at sea. You’re bound to have fun whether you’re playing on the Sport and Family Deck, having a flutter at the casino, or enjoying one of the regular pool parties. Teens will love their dedicated hangout space, Sturmfrei, while younger ones can be kept amused at the Kids’ Club. There’s a wide range of food choices too, from a vintage ice cream parlour to a sushi joint, as well as an upmarket Italian restaurant for a romantic dinner-date.
If you want to visit Les Saintes Islands, climb on-board the Pacific Princess. This comfortable cruise liner will wow you with its facilities. Enjoy relaxing by the pool at Lido, where you’ll find sun loungers, a bar and a BBQ area. Pamper yourself at the spa and enjoy a facial or a massage. There are several upmarket restaurants serving delicious Italian cuisine and a highly-recommended steak house. All guests with balcony cabins can enjoy a private dinner for two on their balconies.
Shore Excursion Ideas
There are plenty of amazing shore excursions to choose from on a Guadeloupe cruise. Here are three of the most popular choices, leaving from Pointe-à-Pitre.
This is a great option for those who want to explore Guadeloupe’s top sights. You’ll travel across to Basse-Terre to take in the mountainous peaks and luxuriant rainforest. After a stop at Crayfish Waterfall you’ll drive back over the bridge to Grande-Terre, where there’s a lot to explore.
You’ll stop by Morne-à-l’Eau cemetery where the tombstones are painted like chessboards and the historic capital Le Moule, where you’ll pass Zevallos House, a sprawling plantation house. Then you’ll drive down the coast passing beautiful white-sand coves tucked into the rocky shoreline. The final stop is the vivid Sainte-Anne craft village where you can purchase handmade clothes and jewellery.
Snorkelling and diving at Pigeon Islet
Discover the magical underwater world of the protected Jacques Cousteau Marine Reserve, named after the famous filmmaker and conservationist. To reach it you’ll drive through Basse-Terre’s mountainous landscape to Malendure Beach. From there, you’ll kayak to Pigeon Islet.
You can discover the islet on foot and climb a hill for panoramic views of Guadeloupe. Those more interested in exploring underwater can don a mask and snorkel to swim in the Coral Garden. You’ll marvel at the kaleidoscopic coral formations and the luminous shoals of fish.
Beach by motorboat shuttle
Sometimes on a Caribbean cruise you just want to kick back and enjoy a lazy day on the beach. You are on holiday after all. Take a water taxi to Le Gosier where you’ll find one of Guadeloupe’s best beaches. Relax on sun-loungers or under the parasols with a drink in your hand at the Fleur d’Epee Beach Resort. Sunbathe and swim to your heart’s content – you won’t want to leave.
Top ports of call in this destination