Shop for spices in Guadeloupe. // © 2017 Creative Commons user lucam
Feature image (above): Plage Caravelle, a picturesque beach outside of Guadeloupe’s Saint Anne // © 2017 Creative Commons user lucam
Guadeloupe is a rare thing: a Caribbean destination little known to most Americans.
That’s a shame, because its verdant landscape, secluded beaches and Caribbean cooking are sure to charm U.S. travelers who like to explore.
Recommend clients to leave their resort and explore nearby islands. Following are five sample itineraries — consider each starting point as your clients’ hotel, as all itineraries are doable as day trips from various locations in Guadeloupe.
Day No. 1: Relaxed Leisure
Driving is easy and safe, but I suggest securing a car reservation for clients before they fly to Guadeloupe, as same-day rentals can be difficult to obtain.
On this itinerary, take Route N4 to Pointe des Chateaux, a picturesque peninsula, at the southeast corner of Guadeloupe’s Grande Terre Island. A pile of cliffs, rock formations and crashing waves, Pointe des Chateaux is perfect for dramatic vacation photos.
On the way there, stop in busy Saint Anne or sleepier Saint Francois for lunch. Attractive cafes can be found in either place, but in the latter, parking will be more plentiful and crowds will be fewer.
Another must-stop is the scenic Plage Caravelle beach outside of Saint Anne. Bring snorkel gear to see the many colorful fish that make their home by the jetty.
Be sure to brush off the sand and stop for a rum cocktail at the colonial, four-star Auberge de la Vielle Tour in Gosier. Taking its name from its squat windmill tower, this former plantation is now a hotel, restaurant and bar, serving up gorgeous views and well-made drinks.
Day No. 2: Soft Adventure
Head to the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve off the black-sand Plage du Malendure beach on the west coast of Basse Terre. The best way to explore these deep and scenic waters is by scuba diving, followed by a ride in a glass-bottom boat. The one we took had a large curved glass hull, which offers excellent viewing. We also snorkeled near the Pigeon Islands, where the water is deep and a little choppy.
Be sure to bring life vests for kids who aren’t strong swimmers; otherwise, they can be spectators through the glass.
If time permits, wade in the cool Cascade aux Ecrevisses waterfall, just a few minutes from the road on Route D23. Or, visit La Maison du Cacao, a chocolate plantation located north of Plage du Malendu beach on Route N2, for tours and tastings.
Day No. 3: Arts and Culture
For a good dose of arts and culture, spend a morning in Pointe a Pitre, which offers colonial architecture, colorful outdoor markets and a new state-of-the-art museum that tells the story of African slavery — all situated in a compact area near the waterfront. Also at Pointe a Pitre, clients can buy spices, island fruit and items with the “madras” plaid print seen all over Guadeloupe.
Day No. 4: Island Living
Families in particular will appreciate a trip — by ferry, boat or Jet Ski — from Le Gosier to Ilet du Gosier, a small island with a wonderful wild feel to it. Bring a picnic or try the open-air cafe that serves up grilled chicken and fresh fish with rice and peas.
After lunch, kids can climb the island’s oddly bent trees and splash in the shallows. Adults can try snorkeling (watch for sea urchins) or find a quiet spot on the beach to relax.
Day No. 5: Volcano Exploration
The southern part of Basse Terre has a volcano where clients can hike, as well as natural hot springs and more.
Coeur des Iles tour company offers bilingual excursions to most parts of the islands and pays travel-agent commissions.
WHERE TO STAY
Des Hotels et Des Iles hotel group has more than a half-dozen properties, all offering travel agent commission.
La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa
Located in central Gosier, this boutique property has a private beach and pool, watersports, a great kids’ club and casual and upscale restaurants. Though it’s full of families during school breaks, adults will find amenities such as a spa and a spacious bar with evening entertainment.
La Toubana Hotel & Spa
The perfect choice for couples and group getaways, La Toubana Hotel & Spa is situated near lively Sainte Anne. The property offers an infinity pool, a private beach and a spa, as well as secluded bungalows, two-level suites and even larger villas. All accommodations have a kitchen or kitchenette, and the bungalows and suites provide ocean views.
Langley Resort Fort Royal
The all-inclusive and family-friendly Langley Resort Fort Royal on the northwest coast of Basse Terre is remote and quite scenic, offering amenities such as a pool, watersports, tennis and a kids’ club. In addition to regular rooms and suites, the resort has stylish bungalows directly on the beach.