pointe des chateaux guadeloupe gwada

Guadeloupe travel trips: An intro by a true local

My friend Ted from the French sailing blog À la Voile is a Guadeloupe local and true expert on this beautiful Caribbean island. He’s offered to share some travel tips and even some Creole basics for the ultimate Guadeloupe travel guide.

Welcome to Saint François, Guadeloupe : ocean views and delicious foods on the caribbean butterfly

Do you have a craving for a heaped tablespoon of vitamin sea and D? Did you know that an island jewel in the Caribbean, with European-class facilities, is waiting for you? Yes, there is, and it’s called Guadeloupe – an island that can provide you with the vitamins and delicious food your body craves.

The archipelago of Guadeloupe

The two main islands form the shape of a beautiful butterfly, with two complementary wings:
The left wing or ‘Basse-Terre’: Mountainous, tropical forest, walking trails, rivers, and waterfalls.
The right wing or ‘Grande-Terre’: Flat, glimmering white-sand beaches, culture, shopping malls and a place to party the night away.

I was born and raised in the archipelago of Guadeloupe, known as Gwada for short. It’s a French island in the Caribbean. Although it’s quite small, I never really took the time to fully enjoy Grande Terre when I was younger. In fact, I lived on Basse Terre, and to move freely on the island, it’s absolutely necessary to have a car. So, I thought it would be great to spend some time on the island with my partner in crime. Here’s our one day journey around the town of Saint François, on Grande Terre. Bon voyage!

Pointe des Châteaux in Saint François

In this case, I didn’t believe the adage of leaving the best for last – we headed straight to the Pointe des Châteaux. It is located at the Easternmost point of Guadeloupe. A short hike up some stone steps was definitely worth the effort, the cliffs facing the ocean were stunning. Looking to the west, there was the whole of Grande Terre and even a part of Basse Terre. The view from up there had a certain je ne sais quoi that left me feeling peaceful and smiling. This is, without a doubt, a must-see of the butterfly island.

Panorama pointe des chateaux guadeloupe
Pointe des châteaux with the Desirade Island on the left

Travelling back down, we couldn’t resist the call of the sirens who were selling refreshing and delectable coconut sorbet. When I started to eat it, my spoon didn’t stop until the last mouthful, in fact, not even until the last drop. Yes, I held the plastic glass over my head, lowered my head backward, mouth opened, turn the glass upside down and tap the bottom of the glass to make sure I got the last drop. If I were 20 years younger, or less conscious of how I look eating my guilty pleasure, I would wipe up every last melted drop from the sides of the glass with my finger. You guessed it: coconut sorbet is by far my favorite sweet treat.

coconut sorbet guadeloupe
Reward after the hike : a coconut sorbet at the Pointe des Châteaux

On the way back from the Pointe des Chateaux

Our sweet break made us hungry for more, so we continued on and went to a restaurant we spotted previously en route to the Pointe des Châteaux: ‘Ocean & Traditions’. With a big shark head out front, it was hard not to notice this restaurant.

shark ocean tradition restaurant
Shark landmark of the Ocean & Traditions Restaurant

This place offers a beautiful view of the ocean and the Marie Galante island, served alongside unlimited short and soft drinks. We were able to sample their home-made planteur (a punch made from a mix of fresh fruit and rum), as well as various different fruit syrups that we mixed with a measure of rum. Speaking of which, there are over 10 types of liquors made with rum (I personally recommend the coconut and peanut punch drinks <3). There’s also whiskey, martinis, pastis (an anise-flavored spirit), and even more. A word of warning: drink or drive, make the choice guys! I wasn’t the one driving that day so I, of course, enjoyed the buffet.ocean view restaurant guadeloupe
Ocean view from the restaurant

punch rum soft short drink
Unlimited short drinks and local soft drink

Now here comes the best, ready? The FOOD! The food was DE-LI-CIOUS. As a starter, I had a generous salad with ‘accras’ (cod fritters) and ‘boudin’ (spicy blood sausage). We usually don’t eat the skin of this type of sausage, but rather press into one side with our fork so as to push out the yummy stuffing. Bon appetit!

Then came the main dish: a mouth-watering grilled ‘vivaneau’ (red snapper), rice cooked with red beans, cabbage gratin, and banana accompanying a slice of fresh watermelon. It also came with a cup of a secret flavored sauce which matched the taste of the fish perfectly. After this I almost couldn’t finish my dessert: a flaming rum banana. What a delightful salty-sweet experience, and all without compromising one’s health!

boudin accra salad guadeloupe

grilled snapper banana rice guadeloupe
Starter and main dish : traditional food of Guadeloupe

With our stomachs full, we went happily on to do some shopping at the ‘Village Artisanal’ (Craft Village). There we discovered the ‘Maison du Coco’ (Coconut House), where we received a warm welcome with a free cup of coconut milk. In this shop we found different handicrafts, mainly made with coconut or coconut leaves. While we were there, we also learned more about the coconut tree. The handicrafts came in all shapes and sizes and sold at a range of prices – there was pure decoration or useful tools, and something for each room of the house or even outdoors. It’s an amazing boutique to buy souvenirs. And for the ladies, you can also find chic jewelry to highlight your natural beauty.

handicraft village guadeloupe

coconut house handicraft

handicraft coconut house guadeloupe

handicraft coconut house gwanda
Handicraft village and the Coconut House

On holiday in Guadeloupe, a day without a dive in the Caribbean sea feels incomplete. And there are so many opportunities to do so, especially in Saint François. We chose to stop at a wall of vegetation, between the road and the sea, next to the ‘Village Artisanal’. From here there were several areas where we could walk our way to the seaside. If you find a spot where a car is parked, too late, it’s already occupied! It feels like you have your own spot to enjoy the sea and a marvelous view of the Marie Galante island. Far from the cliché image of a beach you see on postcards, this beach is more wild and you’ll be far from prying eyes. Most of the people who stop by to take advantage of these little pieces of heaven are locals. However, I imagine it would be impossible to find a free spot on a Sunday afternoon, you are warned.

sauvage beach guadeloupe
Wild and voyeur free seaside

That was it for the day. We went back home to have a good shower. We were too lazy to cook so we went out to the ‘View Port’ (Old Harbor), one of the best Caribbean fast food joints. Bokit! One of the best street foods you can find in the Caribbean, and a must eat in Gwada. Bokit is fried pocket bread that can be filled with anything you like. The bread is a little crunchy on the outside and so soft on the inside. The taste is so phenomenal, you can eat it without anything inside. My favorite, though, is the chicken and salad bokit with some hot spicy sauce. After a good bokit, joie de vivre will take away all of your worries, so don’t miss it!

How to travel to and in Guadeloupe

You can fly directly to Guadeloupe from France, Canada, and the US. Flights can cost as low as $400 for a round trip but can also go above two thousand bucks.
Rent a car in advance if you stay between February and March. Winter is the high season. If you don’t book ahead, you might not be able to find a car to rent on the day you arrive.

Tips to plan your Guadeloupe trip

Remember the basics: Make sure you bring protection against the sun and mosquitos, from head to toe!

Guadeloupe is a part of France: You’ll find almost every French product, though it will be a little more expensive than in Europe. So, if you’ve been to France before, you’ll probably get a feeling of déjà vu in the island’s supermarkets and bakeries. All facilities are European-class, and are very safe for all the family.

Avoid the rainy season: This is officially from June to November, and is especially heavy from mid-July to November where there is a risk of strong hurricanes. We were in Gwada in the beginning of September. Hurricane Irma came close but luckily did not cause much damage on the island compared to other islands such as Sint Maarten. Two days before Irma reached the coast of Guadeloupe, we went to buy water and saw water shelves at most stores. So, we bought the early bird’s leftovers: flavored and sparkling.

irma guadeloupe
Empty water shelves two days before hurricane Irma

Learn a little French and Guadeloupean Creole before going:

You’ll find people who understand English mainly in touristic areas. Everybody speaks French and it will also be greatly appreciated if you know some words of Creole. I have prepared a survival kit for you below. If you get the following, I believe you can grasp the basics.

Survival kit : hacking French and Guadeloupean creole in 21 essential points

English : Welcome
French : Bienvenue
Kreyol : Kontan vwè zot

E : Good morning /Good evening
F : Bonjour /Bonsoir
K : Bonjou / Bonswa

E : Goodbye / See you later / See you tomorrow
F : Aurevoir / À plus tard / À demain
K : Ovwa / A pli ta / A dèmen

E : Excuse me / Sorry
F : Excusez-moi / Pardon
K : Eskizé mwen / Padon

E : Please / Thank you
F : S’il vous plaît / Merci
K : Souplé /Mèsi

E : Yes / No / Maybe
F : Oui / Non / Peut-être
K : Wi /Awa / Pétèt

E : How are you?
F : Comment ça va?
K : Ka ou fè? Ki jan ou yé?

E : I’m fine / So so / and you?
F : Ca va bien / Comme si, comme ça / Et vous?
K : Mwen ben / Kon si, kon sa / é ou (menm)?

E : What’s your name?
F : Comment vous vous appelez?
K : Ki non aw?

E : My name is …
F : Je m’appelle ….
K : Non an mwen sé …

E : Where do you live?
F : Où habitez vous?
K : Ki koté ou ka rété?

E : Nice to meet you
F : Enchanté
K : Mwen kontan fè konésans aw!

E : Have a nice day
F : Passez une bonne journée
K : Pasé on bon jouné

E : Do you understand?
F : Vous comprenez?
K : Ou konprann?

E : I (don’t) understand
F : Je (ne) comprend (pas)
K : An (pa ka) konprann

E : I don’t know
F : Je ne sais pas
K : Mwen pa konnen

E : Can you write it down, please?
F : Pouvez vous l’écrire, s’il vous plaît?
K : Es ou pé maké-y, souplé?

E : Do you speak English?
F : Est-ce que vous parlez anglais?
K : Es ou ka palé anglé?

E : a little / less
F : un peu /moins
K : ti bwen / mwens

E : a lot / more
F : beaucoup / plus
K : anlo / plis

E : How much is it?
F : Combien est-ce que ça coûte?
K : Kipri a-y?

You can keep up with Ted’s travels and especially his sailing tips on his Instagram feed @Instalavoile

One thought on “Guadeloupe travel trips: An intro by a true local

  1. Nice post! I’ve been in Guadeloupe for the whole month of October in 2018. And it was gorgeous! Luckily, the wet season was not so bad that year. I also appreciated Saint-François. I was living in Sainte-Anne, which was cool too, but Saint-François was also nice. And the best thing actually is, that now there is a bus going between those two cities, and it works pretty well. You can read more about it in my guidepost to Guadeloupe.
    Oh and I LOVED the coco sorbet too!

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