14 must-see things to do in Grande-Terre

Fascinating landscapes, extraordinary sensations… Off to visit Grande-Terre? Here are the must-sees and must-do’s on this beautiful island of Guadeloupe!

The French West Indies comprise two overseas departments, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Guadeloupe is an archipelago in the heart of the Lesser Antilles, comprising five islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes and Désirade. The two main islands, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, are separated by a narrow inlet called Rivière Salée and a mangrove swamp at Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin. The famous volcano La Soufrière rises to 1,467 meters on the island of Basse-Terre.

Grande-Terre, formerly known as « Cibuqueira », which means « Island of Gum Trees » in the Caribbean language, is a magical island where you can recharge your batteries in the sunshine when the climate in another part of the world is marked by the cold winters. There are plenty of things to do and see on Grande-Terre: the towns, the beaches, the water sports, the local culture and gastronomy!

Ready for departure? Let’s head for Grande-Terre for a superb trip to the « Little Brittany of the West Indies »!

1. Pointe-à-Pitre

Visiter Pointe-a-Pitre en Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock / De Sergey Kelin

No visit to Grande-Terre is complete without a visit to Pointe-Pitre, a city of art and history. The old city center is a typical 18th-century colonial town. A tour of the city will take you from the Musée Saint-John Perse to the Église St-Pierre et St-Paul, via the Place de la Victoire.

2. The Schoelcher Museum

The generous donations of Victor Schoelcher, fervent defender of the Black cause and supporter of the abolition of slavery, are the treasures of this museum. Located in Point-à-Pitre, this building, constructed in 1883, houses Roman and Egyptian sculptures that belonged to this French journalist and politician.

3. ACTe Memorial

What to do in Grande-Terre and Pointe-à-Pitre? Explore the Caribbean center of expression and memory of the slave trade and slavery. A place of strong symbolism that is both informative and educational, this regional space is dedicated to memory, knowledge and historical research for the general public, tourists, students and researchers.

4. The markets

A visit to Grande-Terre includes the Pointe-à-Pitre markets, which are well worth a visit. Merchants in traditional madras costumes will greet you at the central market, with its many colorful stalls covered in spices, exotic jams and punches.

At the picturesque Darse market, your mouth will water with the flavors of fresh fish sold directly by fishermen, and exotic fruits and vegetables. Immerse yourself in the local life of Grande-Terre!

5. A boat trip

Location bateau Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Anna Jedynak

A must-do when you’re in Guadeloupe, and especially Grande-Terre, is a boat trip! After all, isn’t sailing on a blue, almost transparent paradise, with your head over the side and the hope of seeing dolphins and other ocean splendors swimming by your side, the ultimate pleasure?

Renting a boat in Grande-Terre will allow you to explore superb horizons, and all the surrounding islands!

6. Saint-François

Saint-François, Guadeloupe

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / De Drone Caraibes

What can you do in Grande-Terre, and especially in Saint-François? A seaside resort par excellence, this town is equipped with modern tourist infrastructures and magnificent beaches. Thrills and fun guaranteed at Plage de la Douche!

Sit in a pool and wait for the waves to splash you with a salty shower. Laze on the sublime Raisins Clairs beach, recognizable from afar by its trees whose round, pale fruits resemble white grapes. This beach is made up of a strip of white sand and a crystal-clear lagoon bordered by a coral reef.

7. Sainte-Anne

Plage de la Caravelle, Saint-Anne, Guadeloupe

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / De Pays Guadeloupe

Visiting Grande-Terre also means passing through the coastal town of Sainte-Anne, in the south of the island. You’ll be spoilt for choice among its superb beaches, inviting you to laze around. And for thrill-seekers, there’s surfing, kitesurfing, parachuting and windsurfing…. As you walk along the sublime Caravelle beach, you’re sure to come across the crêpe vendor and the iguana that comes to collect its daily treat at snack time!

8. Le Gosier

Le Gosier, Guadeloupe

Swim or take a shuttle to the îlet Gosier, just a few hundred meters from the beach and declared a remarkable natural area! In Gosier, beaches, boutiques, restaurants and bars guarantee entertainment, a warm atmosphere and an exhilarating experience.

The Aquarium de la Marina contributes to the knowledge and protection of Guadeloupe’s marine environments. A must-see on Grande-Terre!

9. Port-Louis

This authentic, tranquil town has had several names: « Pointe d’Antiques », then « Port Libre », and finally « Port Louis », its current name since the 19th century. In the past, its activity was based on sugar cane cultivation and fishing. Today, the town is focused on tourism, with the creation of a nautical hub nearAnse du Souffleur. The fishing port and marina are home to fishermen repairing their nets, the fish market and pleasure boats. A duckboard path leads you along the beautiful Anse du Souffleur beach.

10. Morne-à-L’Eau cemetery

Cimetière de Morne-à-L'Eau, Guadeloupe

Photo Credit: Flickr – Felix Montino

If you’re taking the main roads to Grande-Terre, you won’t want to miss this world-famous hillside cemetery.

Its originality lies in its graphic code, which is reminiscent of a lady’s game board. Earthenware with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern adorns most of the graves. The expression « last resting place » takes on its full meaning in this field of rest: some tombs are maisonettes, and a few have an upper floor with access via an outside staircase. Be on the lookout for a giant toad the size of a hand nestling between two graves. Is he waiting for his princess?

11. Grande Vigie point

When asked what to do in Grande-Terre? When it comes to hiking, there’s no shortage of opportunities to strap on your trekking boots. A trail around Pointe de la Grande Vigie, Grande-Terre’s most northerly point, will make you aware of the force of the ocean breaking against the cliffs.

At the end of this point, you’ll see Turtle Rock. And don’t forget your binoculars! If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of whales. Along the way, take in the island’s varied flora, but watch out for the mancenilla tree. Native to the American continent, this tree is not as harmless as it looks. Its fruit, foliage, trunk and sap are all toxic. If you come into contact with this tree, severe burns will appear on your skin.

12. The Gates of Hell

La Porte d'Enfer, Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Flickr – Tiomax80

At Anse-Bertrand, the sea rushes in between the majestic limestone cliffs, first raging then calming, ending up on a lovely little beach of golden sand. A path takes you uphill to the  » Trou de Madame Coco « , a large gaping crevasse, and further on to the « Trou du Souffleur ».

13. The culinary journey

Voyage culinaire en Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock / De Ines Porada

If you visit Grande-Terre in August, you can attend the fête des cuisinières held in Pointe-à-Pitre. You’ll delight your taste buds with a tasting of local specialities prepared by these cordon bleu cooks. And along the way, you’ll come across locals selling delicious coconut ice cream made by hand in a rustic ice cream maker.

All these specialities will make your mouth water:

  • The famous meat colombo
  • Lambi fricassee (be careful not to swallow its pink pearl, the rarest and most expensive in the world)
  • Buccaneer chicken
  • The bokit
  • The « caca bœuf of Marie-Galante
  • The « torment of love
  • The famous ti’punch made with rum, cane sugar and lime

14. Damoiseau Distillery

Distillerie Damoiseau, Le Moule, Guadeloupe

Photo Credit: Flickr – funkyflamenca

One of the things to do on Grande-Terre is to visit a distillery. Located in Le Moule, it is the largest producer of agricultural rum in Guadeloupe. Guided tours of the plant are planned to demonstrate the traditional know-how that distinguishes this rum by its aromatic richness. Rum-making is a skilful process, using sugar cane as the raw material to obtain a final product of excellence: rum. And, of course, these tours end with a tasting of a varied selection of rums.

How do I get to Grande-Terre?

Air France, Corsair, Air Transat, Air Caraïbes… Many airlines serve the Guadeloupe archipelago. From France, there are several flights, notably from Paris (average flight time: 9h). On the price front, fares peak during the vacation season, so travel to Guadeloupe during the low season. In the wet season, outside July and August, temperatures remain pleasant and it’s possible to find return tickets for around 500 euros. In fact, to anticipate your departure, check prices from time to time on Ulysse: depending on your departure dates, this flight comparator selects the best prices on the market.

Located in Les Abymes, in the heart of Guadeloupe and to the south of Grande-Terre, Pointe-à-Pitre Pôle Caraïbes airport is the archipelago’s main hub. Once you’re here, the best way to visit Grande-Terre in its entirety and enjoy the freedom of wandering around is to rent a car. Rental agencies are within walking distance of the arrival terminal.

In particular, you can opt for Karu’Lis, Guadeloupe’s urban transport network, which runs between the airport and Pointe-à-Pitre, Les Abymes and Le Gosier.

Where to stay in Grande-Terre?

In terms of entertainment, the four towns on the southern coast are the best off: Point-à-Pitre, le Gosier, Sainte-Anne and Saint-François. Thanks to their central location, towns like Morne-à-L’eau and Le Moule will be strategic sites for visiting Grande-Terre and doing the must-sees scattered around the island.

With this hotel comparator, you’ll find hotels, (like a small family-run structure in Port-Louis run by a daughter and father so friendly that they’ll invite you for a very convivial traditional dinner to celebrate your birthday), gites and unusual accommodation. For even more authenticity, opt for camping with local people or choose an Airbnb: head in the stars guaranteed!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Guadeloupe,fr