An archipelago of over a dozen sun-kissed islands, Guadeloupe is a varied place to holiday, with everything from deserted beaches to jungle-wreathed mountains. The country's two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly and are joined together by just a couple of bridges and a mangrove swamp. Grande-Terre, the eastern of the two islands, has a string of beach towns that offer visitors world-class stretches of sand to laze on and plenty of activities. Mountainous Basse-Terre, the western island, is home to thick, lush Parc National de la Guadeloupe, replete with waterfalls and topped by the spectacular La Soufrière volcano.
Guadeloupeans are known for their friendly demeanor and hospitality towards visitors, but you should expect to encounter a language barrier. Guadeloupe's official language is French, but many Guadeloupeans speak French Creole as well. While there are some English-speakers at the resorts and touristic areas, brushing up on your French would greatly help bridge the language barrier. Learning simple French terms, such as "bonjour" ("good day") and "parlez-vous anglais?" ("do you speak English?") will serve you well.
A Department of France, Guadeloupe is technically, if not geographically, it is a part of Europe, making the Euro (EUR) the island's official currency. U.S. dollars are not accepted at most places, and some ATMs do not accept foreign bank cards. Bank cards are widely used in shops and stores. Plan ahead by checking with your bank about using your card on island. If you need cash during your trip, your hotel concierge should be able to direct you to a reputable exchange center and there are several exchange places at the airport.
When it comes to tipping, restaurants generally add 15 percent in gratuity plus tax to the bill, so there's no need to leave extra. Hotels typically tack on a 10- to 15-percent service charge, but for particularly good service, one can leave an additional 10 percent.
Geography & Climate
Guadeloupe comprises five islands: Basse-Terre Island, Grande-Terre (separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow sea channel called salt river) with the adjacent islands of La Désirade, Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. Basse-Terre has a rough volcanic relief whilst Grande-Terre features rolling hills and flat plains. Guadeloupe was formed from multiple volcanoes, of which only Basse-Terre is not extinct.
Nearly all of Guadeloupe’s main urban areas are located on the Basse-Terre or Grande-Terre region of the island. The 5 main urban areas are:
5. Le Moule
Trade winds give Guadeloupe a tropical climate and make it generally very pleasant year round. Air temperature varies between 23°C (73°F) in winter and 32°C (90°F) in summer, with an average of 77% humidity.