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Last month we transported you to Sint Marteen and St Barts in part one of our French Antilles series. This time around, our journey takes us to the beautiful Guadeloupe and Martinique. Sit back, relax, and indulge in French, Dutch and Creole culture.
In the heart of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe is actually an archipelago of fiver islands; Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Las Saintes, La Desirade and Marie-Galante. Although each island is very much French, they are also undeniably Caribbean, resulting in a beautiful Creole mix.
The most western island is the mountainous Basse-Terre. It is home to the Guadeloupe National Park and famous for its impressive rainforests. Not only an island, it is also the capital of Guadeloupe.
Many visitors navigate the mountain road on Basse-Terre to the village of Saint-Claude, which sits at the base of the Soufriere volcano within the National Park. From here, you can arrange for a guide to take you on a hike of Soufriere which is still an active volcano.
Whilst many islands that are thick with flora and fauna tend to lack beaches, Basse-Terre has both. Some of the most impressive stretches of coastline can be found on island, as well as Pigeon Island, one of the best diving sites in the whole of the Caribbean.
Basse-Terre is Guadeloupe’s trump card and is not to be missed.
Translated to ‘The Forgotten’, La Desirade is an island of Guadeloupe. It is the oldest island in the French Antilles and life remains traditional, with tranquillity and simplicity the ethos of island life for the locals. It is one of the least visited Guadeloupian islands and is home to the National Geological Reserve and is celebrated for its iguana population!
This flat limestone island is a mecca for tourists who want exclusive sun, sea and sand. It is a neighbour of Basse-Terre, just separated by a narrow sea channel called Riviere Salee. The most visited island in Guadeloupe, the southern coast is the main resort area and is rich with coral reefs and golden-sand beaches.
Gosier is a town in the south of Grand-Terre and is the number one location for holidaymakers. It is an incredibly friendly town, with impressive hotels and night life. However, if it is peace and quiet you are looking for, the east and north of the island are virtually untouched by tourism. They are also home to some of the most impressive vistas in Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe’s daintiest island, Las Saintes is incredibly beautiful. A gem of the Caribbean, the rich greenery of the jungle contrasts spectacularly against the white shores and sapphire blue of the ocean. North of Dominica, the ‘Island of the Saints’ is formed of nine islands, all interlinked by shallow reefs.
The town of Terre de Haut is the perfect location for a bite to eat, with its many bistros benefitting from views across the stunning bay (which is a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club). Terre de Bas is the place to head for beaches, particularly due Grande-Anse beach.
Don’t leave Las Saintes without having tried the island’s traditional cake; Tourment d’Amour. A tart like cake which is flavoured with vanilla, coconut and rum.
Also somewhat unbecomingly knows as ‘The Big Pancake’ due to its shape and flat terrain, Marie-Galante is certainly a sweet treat of Guadeloupe. The undeveloped island is often graced by holiday makers and travellers who want peace and quiet, as well as deserted beaches.
With Guadeloupe meaning ‘Island of Beautiful Waters’, those who visit Marie-Galante won’t be surprised to find white sands and aqua waters. Anse Taliseronde beach is popular with snorklers and scuba divers, whereas Plage de la Feuillere and Grand Bourg beach are protected by coral reefs, perfect for families.
Hop South over colourful Dominica and you will land in Martinique. The French-Caribbean oasis is crowned by Mont Pele, a volcano which wiped out the former capital of St-Pierre in 1902. Whilst it boasts the rich culture, incredible beaches and faultless landscapes of other islands in the French Antilles. Martinique is considered more cosmopolitan than its neighbours.
Whether you want to indulge in horseback riding, hiking, canoeing or snorkelling, Martinique is undoubtedly a perfect holiday destination for outdoor lovers. The island is speckled with different hotels, from boutique chalets to five-star luxury resorts. It all depends on what you want to experience.
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