17 must-dos in Guadeloupe

Les Saintes

Planning your trip to Guadeloupe? Here are the best things to do and see on the island of beautiful waters!

Nestled like a butterfly in the middle of the Lesser Antilles, the Guadeloupe archipelago is a top destination for a vacation in the sun. With its extraordinarily diverse landscapes and rich culture, the island of beautiful waters is the ideal place for an unforgettable stopover.

From Basse-Terre to Grande-Terre, not forgetting Les Saintes and Marie-Galante, discover places full of magic and steeped in history. Follow the palm-fringed coastline, plunge into the heart of nature to discover the local flora and fauna, and simply let yourself be enveloped by the gentle pace of life that you won’t soon want to leave.

Dare to be adventurous, taste, smell, experience and discover the 17 must-do things to do in Guadeloupe!

1. Pointe-à-Pitre

Pointe-à-Pitre, the capital of Guadeloupe, is one of the first towns you’ll see when you arrive, and it’s full of surprises if you take the time to discover it.

Victory Square

La Place de la Victoire - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Wikimedia – LPLT

When visiting Guadeloupe, start with an obligatory stop at the welcoming Place de la Victoire. Lined with colorful colonial-era houses and cafés, it stands as the city’s focal point. Facing the sea and stretching over almost a hectare, it is a friendly venue for concerts, shows and other cultural events all year round.

Monuments and museums

Les monuments et musées

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Filip Fuxa

While Pointe-à-Pitre may be picturesque and jovial, it’s also a city of history and culture, as you explore its monuments and museums. Discover theformer infantry barracks, listed as a historic monument, admire the famous yellow façade of theSaint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul church dating from 1807, and don’t miss a visit to the ACTe memorial recounting the archipelago’s long and painful history with slavery.

The markets

Les marchés - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Solarisys

And how can we talk about Pointe-à-Pitre without mentioning its famous markets? Immerse yourself in a whirlwind of colors, flavors and scents as you browse the various stalls of these traditional venues renowned throughout the archipelago. You’re sure to find what you’re looking for, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

Stroll between handicrafts, spices, punches and local fruits at the Saint-Antoine and La Darse markets. Choose to twirl between petals at the flower market, or indulge in the other markets in the area.

2. dream beaches

Les plages de rêve

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Filip Fuxa

When it comes to must-do activities in Guadeloupe, it’s hard not to think of its dream beaches, a meeting point for surf enthusiasts. Lined with palm trees, golden or black sand, they offer a postcard setting that you won’t soon forget.

And if the archipelago’s original name is Karukera, meaning « island of beautiful waters », it’s not for nothing! You certainly won’t be able to resist the call of its clear, warm waters.

Whether you’re with family, friends, a couple or even on your own, enjoy these heavenly stretches of sand during your visit to Guadeloupe. Let the sun caress your skin, take a nap in the shade of a tree or succumb to the delicious smells of the food-truck offering a variety of dishes perfect to accompany an afternoon by the sea.

At the end of the day, enjoy magnificent sunsets from the shore or seated at a table in one of Guadeloupe’s best beach bars.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most beautiful beaches on which to lay your towels during your vacation:

  • Anse du Souffleur – Port-Louis ;
  • Plage de la Caravelle – Sainte-Anne ;
  • Anse Bertrand – Port-Louis ;
  • Plage des Raisins Clairs – Saint-François ;
  • Petit-Havre beach – le Gosier ;
  • Anse Caraïbe – Pointe-Noire ;
  • Bois-Jolan Beach – Sainte-Anne ;
  • Plage de la Datcha – le Gosier.

3. engraved rock archaeological park

Le Parc Archéologique de roches gravées

Photo credit: Wikimedia – FreeProuilhe

Located in the commune of Trois-Rivières, the Parc Archéologique des Roches Gravées – classified as a historic monument since 1974 – is a fabulous imprint left by the archipelago’s first inhabitants: the Arawak Indians. A visit to a tropical garden, surrounded by calabash, roucou and sugar cane trees, gives you the chance to observe over 230 engravings known as « petroglyphs ».

Dating back more than 1,500 years, they provide an insight into the way of life of the Amerindian civilization. Accompanied by a guide, you’ll learn the meaning of each of these engraved rocks, as well as the purpose of the various plants that make up the lush landscape around you.

4. Deshaies Botanical Garden

Jardin Botanique - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tupungato

Discover rich West Indian flora and surprising fauna with a visit to the magnificent Jardin Botanique de Deshaies. Nestled on Coluche’s former estate and covering almost 7 hectares, this park – divided into several themed areas – promises to amaze young and old alike.

Stroll among the tropical trees and contemplate superb flowers such as the porcelain rose, hibiscus or orchid, accompanied by birdsong.

Along the way, you’ll come across hummingbirds, blue macaws, lorikeets, flamingos and goats.

5. distillery visits

Les visites de Distilleries

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Erin Donahue Creative

Known for its breathtaking scenery and crystal-clear coastline, the Butterfly Island is also renowned for its sugarcane cultivation and world-exported rums. While you’re here, be sure to visit one of the island’s unmissable rum factories, where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this much-loved nectar.

Whether at the Distillerie Damoiseau in Grande-Terre, the Distillerie Bologne in Basse-Terre or the Distillerie Bielle in Marie-Galante, learn more about the making of this spirit and the history that surrounds it.

At the end of your visit, you’ll be delighted to take part in a tasting of white or amber rum, dry or flavored. But remember: alcohol should be drunk in moderation!

6. Les Saintes

Les Saintes - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Oliver Hoffmann

Situated between Guadeloupe and Dominica, theSaintes archipelago is a little corner of paradise that you absolutely must visit during your stay. Comprising two small islands – Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas – and 7 unoccupied islets, it offers visitors exceptional panoramic views.

With its enchanting beaches, colorful fishing villages and incredible viewpoints such as Morne Chameau, there’s no doubt you’ll be won over. Don’t miss a visit to the botanical garden, where you can observe iguanas and learn about the history of Fort Napoléon, enthroned in the middle of the island.

7. the authentic Marie-Galante

L’authentique Marie-Galante

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Oliver Hoffmann

It’s in the south-east of mainland Guadeloupe that you’ll find the stunning and enchanting Marie-Galante. There, as if frozen in time, it transports you to an authentic world untouched by the hustle and bustle of tourism. So make the most of your visit to Guadeloupe to get away from it all!

Stroll through its wild, rural scenery, laze on one of its sublime beaches, watch a traditional ox-pulling competition, visit the eco-museum tracing the history of the local sugar industry or go in search of the remains of the many mills that have earned it the nickname « the island of a hundred mills ».

8. A boat trip

Visiter Guadeloupe : Une balade en bateau

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ThomasLENNE

If you’d like to visit the aptly named « Ile aux belles eaux » in a slightly different way, the best way is by sea. Marvel at the island’s heavenly coasts and translucent lagoons, explore its wild islets and be enchanted by its exceptional seabed. Whether by sailboat, catamaran or speedboat, you’re in for a sensational time. And, who knows, maybe you’ll even want to rent a boat in Guadeloupe and be your own captain.

From Point-à-Pitre, for example, you can sail to the Saintes islands to discover Baie de Pont Pierre, a listed natural site with a wind-protected lagoon. Or set sail for the islets of the Grand Cul-de-sac marin, stopping off at îlet la Biche, a small fishermen’s sanctuary away from it all. But there are many other ways to discover « l’île aux belles eaux » from the sea.

If you don’t have a boating license or are not comfortable at the helm, you can hire the services of a skipper who will show you the most beautiful corners of the island. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to take a dip in some of the island’s most magical spots, for an unforgettable day out with your loved ones.

Find a boat to rent in Guadeloupe

9. climb La Soufrière

La Soufrière - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – feuerpferd1111

Superbly situated in the commune of Saint-Claude, La Soufrière is an active volcano that long ago established itself as one of Guadeloupe’s must-see attractions. Perfect for hikers, the volcano nicknamed La Vieille Dame is full of surprises.

With its hot springs, mud baths, steam gushing from breccias and arduous slopes, it’s bound to take your breath away. But don’t panic: once you reach the top, your efforts will be rewarded with a fantastic 360° view that begs to be immortalized. So, are you ready to climb to the « roof of the Lesser Antilles »? See the route of the ascent.

10. hike Guadeloupe’s most beautiful trails

Les plus belles randonnées

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tupungato

From Basse-Terre to Grande-Terre, the Caribbean butterfly offers a wealth of natural sites that everyone will love to discover. In addition to the famous Soufrière, you’ll discover a host of trails that promise to take your breath away. You can find out more about hiking in Guadeloupe here.

Whether in the lush landscapes of its National Park or along its crystal-clear coastline, organize beautiful hikes immersing yourself in an incredible environment full of contrasts. Dry or humid forests, mangroves, waterfalls, seashores and other spectacular panoramas await you. Definitely one of the best things to do in Guadeloupe!

11. La Route de la Traversée

La Route de la Traversée - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – El Greco 1973

If you’d like to visit Guadeloupe and discover exceptional sites without tiring of walking for hours on end, the Route de la Traversée – also known as the Route des Mamelles – is an excellent alternative.

Connecting Pointe-Noire to Petit-Bourg, this 35-kilometer route takes you into the heart of the wilderness, passing through the Guadeloupe National Park. While you can ride in one go, watching the green hills roll by, you also have the option of making several stops:

  • the Écrevisses waterfall for an invigorating swim ;
  • the Maison de la Forêt to discover the local flora and fauna;
  • the Zoo at Parc des Mamelles to delight young and old alike.

12. diving

La plongée

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Charles-Henry THOQUENNE

Looking for something to do on vacation in Guadeloupe? Why not give diving a try? With a multitude of underwater exploration sites dotted around the island, you’re sure to find the one that best suits your needs.

From Réserve Cousteau to Grand Cul-de-sac marin, via îlet Gosier and Saint-François lagoon, you can swim in coral gardens and marvel at unparalleled marine flora and fauna.

13. other outdoor activities

Les autres activités outdoor - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – NicoElNino

As well as scuba diving, the Guadeloupe archipelago is a great place for many other outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for a thrill or a fun way to discover the environment around you, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Whether on land or at sea, here are a few ideas for outdoor activities to enjoy during your visit to Guadeloupe:

  • a ride in a
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  • an excursion on
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  • a trip in a

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  • a ride on
    jetski ;

  • an outing on
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14. helicopter flight over the island

Survoler l’île en hélicoptère

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tupungato

Take to the skies for an original tour of Guadeloupe! Enjoy an unforgettable experience as you embark with an experienced pilot, who will take you to admire sensational panoramas from the air.

What better way to experience the many wonders that make up this incredible archipelago? Fly, contemplate and marvel at the beauty.

15. La Porte d’Enfer

La Porte d’Enfer - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Benny Marty

Located in Anse Bertrand, the Porte d’Enfer(see hike itinerary) is a remarkable place if you’re looking for something to visit in Guadeloupe. Although its name may give some people the shivers, this natural site has more the air of a little corner of paradise.

With breathtaking cliffs plunging into the Atlantic Ocean and blue water revealing a glimpse of the seabed, you won’t be disappointed. Once you’ve witnessed this awe-inspiring spectacle, you can continue on to the Tou a Man Koko (French for « Madame Coco’s Hole ») grotto in 15 minutes, or finish off with a dip in the lagoon below.

16. Morne-à-l’Eau cemetery

Le cimetière de Morne-à-l’Eau

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tupungato

If you don’t think a cemetery is the place to go on vacation, Morne-à-l’Eau is an internationally renowned cemetery visited by thousands of travellers every year. And with good reason: it’s one of a kind.

With its amphitheatrical hillside layout and multitude of black-and-white checkerboard tombs, it’s considered one of the most stunning cemeteries in the French West Indies. But it’s at All Saints’ Day that it fascinates even more, when families come to illuminate the tombs with countless candles. Want to whet your curiosity?

17. discover local gastronomy

Découvrir la gastronomie locale - visiter Guadeloupe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – margouillat photo

It’s impossible to make a stopover in Guadeloupe without taking an interest in its local gastronomy. One of the must-sees, it takes you on a colorful and flavorful journey. Spicy, tasty and sometimes surprising, its various recipes will not leave you indifferent.

Whether at a restaurant table or a beachside snack bar, be sure to try the famous accras, spicy cod fritters. Then let yourself be tempted by the famous poulet boucané, usually accompanied by rice.

If you prefer to eat under the table, there’s no doubt that you’ll be seduced by the local star of sandwiches: the bokit. To finish on a sweet note, treat your taste buds to a delicious fruity sorbet.

How to get to Guadeloupe

Visiting Guadeloupe? Flights from France to Pointe-à-Pitre are available every day. Use a flight comparator like Ulysse to find the best deal.

Getting around Guadeloupe

When you’re in Guadeloupe, and especially when you’re staying on the islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, it’s best to rent a car to ensure greater freedom and less time wasted. There’s a lot to do in Guadeloupe, and time is precious!

Where to sleep in Guadeloupe?

When it comes to accommodation in Guadeloupe, there’s no shortage of choice. From villas to bungalows, not forgetting the inevitable hotel room, there’s something for everyone. To find the offer that matches both your budget and your criteria, don’t hesitate to use a hotel comparator. You can also opt for one of the many Airbnbs available on the archipelago, to stay like a local!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Guadeloupe,fr