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Best things to do in Guadeloupe: A Guadeloupe guide

I have many articles on this website about things to do in Guadeloupe, yet I’ve never compiled them into an overview. After updating all of the separate articles, I figure it’s time, so here it is: a Guadeloupe guide.

Note: at the bottom of this list you can find a map with all the sights marked on it.

A view from the side of La Soufriere volcano in Guadeloupe shows a very green landscape, a village on the sea, and deep blue water blending into clear blue sky.
A view from the side of La Soufrière volcano in Guadeloupe

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Text: A guide to Guadeloupe: What to see and do in Guadeloupe. Image: children playing as the sun sets over the sea.
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Geography of Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe lies in the Caribbean, closer to Venezuela than to Florida. It’s about halfway between Montserrat and St. John’s to the north and Dominica to the south. Part of France’s historical colonial empire, it is still part of France as a départment d’Outre-Mer.

The two main islands of Guadeloupe resemble the wings of a butterfly. The southwestern wing, called Basse-Terre, is dominated by La Soufrière volcano and the jungle that covers it. The volcano and that jungle are protected as the Parc Nationale de la Guadeloupe. The towns and villages skirt the edges of the volcano and are mostly right on the sea.

The northeastern wing, called Grande-Terre, is only separated from Basse-Terre by a narrow channel. It’s mostly flat, and much of it is used for agriculture: sugar cane – an export crop used for sugar or rum production – and bananas, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables for local use.

a street scene in Pointe-à-Pitre: a city street with cars parked along both sides. The other side of the street is lined with residential buildings of 3 or 4 stories each. Most have balconies and some are painted in bright colors, while some look very weatherworn.
a street scene in Pointe-à-Pitre

The largest city on Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre, is near where the two wings of the island meet. You’re likely to arrive on the island either through the airport just north of Pointe-à-Pitre or the ferry port in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Guadeloupe also includes several much smaller islands: I didn’t go to any of these islands, but I’ve included some of their highlights in this list too.

What to see in Guadeloupe’s biggest city, Pointe-à-Pitre

While Pointe-à-Pitre did not strike me as a particularly interesting or beautiful city, you’ll probably spend at least a little time there. Here are some things to see in Pointe-à-Pitre:


Spice Market

Pointe-à-Pitre has a number of markets, but this pleasant roofed market is squarely aimed at tourism, selling spices and local food products. It’s fun to discover what’s on offer and perhaps buy a gift or two to take home.

spices for sale at the market in Pointe-à-Pitre Each open pot is coverd in a plaid cloth on the sides and tucked in around the edges. Each is labeled with a large spoon-shaped yellow board sticking into the spices. Each board says the name of the spice and the price in euros.
spices for sale at the market in Pointe-à-Pitre

The Spice Market, also called Marché St. Antoine: Rue Frébault, Pointe-à-Pitre. Monday-Saturday, 7-17:00.

Le Marché de la Darse

This general market includes fruit and vegetables, spices, rum and fish you can buy directly from the fishermen.

Le Marché de la Darse: Place de la Victoire in Pointe-à-Pitre. Open Monday-Saturday 6-14:00. Closed on Sundays.

Flower market

The Marché aux fleurs is just what it says: a flower market.

The Marché aux fleurs: in front of the Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul. Daily 6-14:30.

Marché de Bergevin

This is the biggest market in town, mostly selling fruit and vegetables.

Marché Bergevin: Corner of Boulevard de l’Amitié des Peuples de la Caraïbes and Lefèvre quay. Open Monday-Wednesday 6:00-13:00, Thursday and Friday 6:00-20:00 and Saturdays from 3:00-12:00.

The Memorial ACTe

I would have loved to see this new museum, but it hadn’t opened yet when I visited. Housed in a modern building on the site of a former sugar factory, Memorial ACTe explains the history of slavery in the Caribbean and around the world. It’s a small part of a global UNESCO project about slavery.

Memorial ACTe: Rue Raspail in Pointe-à-Pitre. Open Tuesday-Saturday 9-19:00 (last admissions at 17:30) and Sunday 10-18:00 (last admissions at 16:30). Closed on Mondays. €15. Memorial ACTe’s website (only in French).

Drum performance

If you’re in Pointe-à-Pitre on a Saturday, make sure to check out the drum performance in the morning. It’s on the pedestrian street called Rue Piétonne St-John Perse. Any local will be able to tell you where to find it. I wrote about it in this article about my Airbnb host.

Saturday drumming session in Pointe-à-Pitre: A group of drummers, some sitting with their drums between their knees, some standing with the drums in front of them in stands. A crowd of people stand around them; many have their backs to the camera, and some of the other side of the circle of the audience is visible on the other side of the drums, facing the camera.
Saturday drumming session in Pointe-à-Pitre

Saint-John Perse Museum

It was closed when I visited, but the Saint-John Perse Museum dates to the 19th century. It’s a lovely New Orleans-style house with ornate balconies, and the ground floor inside is meant to illustrate a typical creole home. It belonged to Alexis Léger, who earned a Nobel Prize for literature back in 1960, and the upstairs is a museum about him.

Saint-John Perse Museum: 9 rue de Nozières, Pointe-à-Pitre. Open Monday-Friday 8:30-14:00. Closed Saturday and Sunday. (Since the museum has no website of its own, I can’t guarantee that these hours are accurate. It might be open later in the afternoons and it might be open on Saturday mornings, depending which website you believe.) €10.

The Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul

Take a look at this lovely colonial-era church (I’m not sure that the colonial era is actually over in Guadeloupe, given that it’s still ruled from France). In any case, the beauty of the cathedral belies the cruelty that was part and parcel of colonialism. Oddly, the arches, visible inside, are made from riveted iron beams.

The cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre: The building is yellow with white edging. The ground floor has three doors, symmetrically placed; the center one has an arched top. White pillars separate them and the two statue niches between doors. The upper floor is narrower, with three arched windows and a pointed pediment.
The cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre

The Cathédrale de St. Pierre et St. Paul: rue du Général Ruillier, Pointe-à-Pitre. Website (in French).

Museums and sightseeing outside of Pointe-à-Pitre

The Museum of Costumes and Traditions

While I did not get to this small museum in Le Gosier, it sounds worth visiting. Displays cover historical clothing, but also extend to the history of the island and Creole culture as illustrated by the clothing.

Musée costumes et traditions: 1 Périnette in Le Gosier. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:00-17:00. €9. Facebook site (in French).

Coffee plantations

I visited two coffee plantations that offer tours, Vanibel and La Grivelière. Both are in the southwest corner of Basse-Terre. Both were interesting, though I learned more about the history of coffee farming on Guadeloupe at La Grivelière. For more about these plantations, read my article about both here.

The master's house at La Grivelière coffee plantation in Guadeloupe: It has a weathered wood ground floor with a shallow porch and simple poles holding up the roof. The roof is dark brown shingles and the second floor windows stick out in dormer windows from the roof. Each dormer window has small shutters, which are open, also weathered wood.
The master’s house at La Grivelière coffee plantation in Guadeloupe

Fort Delgrès

This French colonial fort (which I didn’t see, though I don’t know why not!) is well-maintained and offers great views. Since signposting is all in French, it might be worth taking a tour to hear the history of the rebels who resisted Napoleon’s effort to reintroduce slavery. Apparently there’s also an interesting exhibit about the 1976 eruption of La Soufrière volcano.

Fort Delgrès: Le Carmel, Basse-Terre. Open Tuesday-Friday 9-16:30 and Saturday and Sunday 9:30-16:30. Free.

Carved Rocks Archeological Park

While little is known about the original inhabitants of Guadeloupe, the Arawak, The Parc Archéologique des Roches Gravées is the place to learn a bit about them. It contains a series of simple rock carvings made by the Arawak. Nearby is a lovely trail to walk along the coast. I reviewed this little park in this article and you can find visitor information there as well.

A rock carving left by Arawak people at Carved Rocks Archeological Park shows a very simple figure with a round face, a square body with large feet sticking out the bottom of the body, with no feet and no arms. the round face has what looks like large round ears and a tall hat.
A rock carving left by Arawak people at Carved Rocks Archeological Park

Museum of Amerindian prehistory Edgar-Clerc

This is another one I didn’t get to, but it addresses the history of the indigenous people, with attention to archeology as well. The garden in which it is set is said to be lovely.

Musée de la prehistoire amerindienne Edgar-Clerc: Parc de la Rosette in Le Moule. (Directions from their website: Leaving Le Moule in the direction of Pointe-a-Pitre, after the bridge, take the secondary road that goes straight ahead toward Ste. Margueritte, Gros Cap and Pointe de la Vigie. The museum is 300 meters up the road on the right.) Open September-June Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9-17:00, Wednesday and Friday 9-13:00. In July and August, open Monday-Friday 8-14:00. Admission is free. Website (in French).

Other sights and museums


Have you ever watched the BBC mystery series “Death in Paradise”? It is filmed in the village of Deshaies, on the northwestern corner of Basse-Terre. You can see the “police station” of the fictional Saint-Marie, the church, the restaurant on the water where the characters gather after solving crimes, etc. It’s also a particularly pretty village in its own right. Read about it in my article, The Paradise in ‘Death in Paradise’.

The small village is a cluster of houses facing a small bay. The houses are mostly white with red roofs. A few boats float just off the shore. A church tower with a red pointed roof sits slightly above the town up the hill that is visible behind the town. In the distance, what looks like another cluster of smaller houses is actually a cemetery.
If you watch “Death in Paradise,” you’ll recognize this view of Deshaies.

The Guadeloupe Aquarium

The Aquarium de la Guadeloupe is in Gosier, not far from Pointe-à-Pitre, and is purported to be excellent. If you’re not going to go diving or snorkeling, at least go there.

Aquarium de la Guadeloupe: Place Creole – Marina – Le Gosier. Open daily 9-18:30 and, during school vacations, 9-19:00. €14. Website (in French).

Chocolate Museum

I wrote about the chocolate museum in a separate article. It’s small but informative, offering step-by-step demonstrations of the chocolate-making process, as well as a small plantation so you can see how cacao grows. Chocolate is not a major cash crop here anymore, but the museum makes for an interesting short visit.

The Chocolate Museum's demonstrations include tastings: a plate of dark chocolate pieces.
The Chocolate Museum’s demonstrations include tastings.

The Rum Museum

In my article about the Rum Museum, I commented on the odd range of things on display. You can learn all about the history of rum, but also see an extensive insect collection, model boat collection, and lots more. It’s quirky and fun, and ends with rum tasting!

Kreol West Indies

This art gallery manages to combine both excellent-quality modern art by Caribbean artists with exhibits about Guadeloupe’s history from the Arawaks who lived here before western colonization through the colonial period. It’s an unusual combination that somehow works. See my article about it here. Another small gallery, called the Musee des Beaux Arts, is nearby in Saint Francois.

The building is a single story, quite long, with a purple-painted strip of concrete in front and shutters around the open windows (purple) and doors (blue). A few sculptures stand on the concrete strip.
The brightly-painted home of Kreol West Indies.

The Banana Museum

Housed in a former plantation, you’ll learn all about banana cultivation here, including a tasting of different varieties of bananas. You can stroll the tropical grounds and tour the plantation houses, which have another odd collection of artifacts similar to the Rum Museum’s. Read all about it here.

Bananas at the Banana Museum show clearly that they are part of a very large flower. The immature bananas are clustered at the top, near the tree's trunk. From the end of the banana cluster extends a long stalk, longer than the cluster of bananas. At its end is a large flower bud, not yet opened. The flower is backed by lots of green banana leaves in this photo.
Bananas at the Banana Museum

Habitation Cote Sous-le-Vent

This park includes a range of activities. An interactive exhibit on pirates is sure to please the kids. There’s also a playground including a treehouse and an arboretum of rare species. A plantation house gives an idea of life in colonial times.

Habitation Cote Sous-le-Vent: Pointe Noire, Basse-Terre. Open daily all year 10:00-17:00 (last admission 16:00). €9.50. Website (in French).

Street Art

I don’t have specific locations, but as you move around Guadeloupe, you might spot some great street art! Read more about Guadeloupe’s street art here.

More things to do in Guadeloupe: Enjoy the natural world

As I mentioned before, the Parc Nationale de la Guadeloupe, or National Park of Guadeloupe, covers a large portion of Basse-Terre. Within the park boundaries there are a number of things to see.

La Soufrière volcano

It might be a while before you get to see the top of the volcano, since its top extends into the clouds. If you feel up to it, though, hike up to the top for a look into the Porte de l’enfer (the gate to hell) and watch (and smell) the steam escape. If you’re not particularly fit or unused to hiking, like me, you would do well to read my tips for climbing La Soufrière before you go.

In the foreground, three people walking away from the camera on a wide dirt trail. Beyond them, a group of more people. Beyond them is the green bump of the mountain, most of which is obscured by cloud.
The second part of the trail up the volcano, taken while the summit was hidden in the clouds.

Carbet waterfalls #1, #2, #3

These waterfalls within the national park are all reachable as day hikes (See my post about #2 here.). It’s not really about the waterfalls, though. It’s about enjoying a walk through a rainforest.

Carbet Waterfall #2 in its incredibly lush rainforest setting. The waterfall itself is on the edge of the photo, while the rest of the frame is just greenery and hills covered in greenery beyond the waterfall.
Carbet waterfall #2

Bras du Fort waterfall

I wrote about this waterfall in my article about Airbnb and the special experiences an Airbnb stay can lead to. Bras du Fort flows into a still green pool, edged by rainforest. It’s absolutely magical. The problem is that I can’t explain where it is. I was led there by a local, so you’ll need to just ask until you can find someone to take you.

You don’t have to be inside the national park to enjoy nature, however:

Another walk that is reputed to be fairly easy is to the waterfall called Saut des Trois Cornes, near Sainte Rose. Bring a bathing suit and swim in the pool under the falls.

Deshaies Botanical Garden

This botanical garden in Deshaies gets great reviews, which, besides praising the beautiful landscapes, including orchids and other tropical vegetation, mention feeding fish and parrots as highlights of a visit.

Deshaies Botanical Garden: just south of the village of Deshaies. Open daily 9-17:30 (Last admission at 16:30). €15.90 Website.

Valombreuse Gardens

Les Jardins de Valombreuse Parc Floral et de loisirs is a large botanical garden that is very popular. It’s apparently especially good if you’re traveling with children because if its play areas.

Valombreuse Gardens: Chemin Valombreuse, west (inland) of the village of Petit Bourg on Basse-Terre. Garden open daily 8-18:00. Children’s activities are open daily 9:30-17:30 during school vacations. Otherwise open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 9:00-18:00 (last admission at 16:40). €13. Website (in French).

Pointe des Chateaux

This is the very easternmost tip of the east wing of the island. It’s rocky, with waves pounding dramatically over the rocks: a great place for a contemplative walk. When I was there, I had it to myself as well, so I spent some time sitting, watching the frigatebirds swoop and dive above the brilliant blue waves. The road to Pointe des Chateaux passes some lovely white-sand beaches.

The view back along the peninsula from Pointe des Chateaux shows a long, narrow, flat finger of land with a coastline made of a series of coves.
This is the view back along the peninsula from Pointe des Chateaux. Notice all of the empty white-sand beaches.

Le Parc des Mamelles

I’m not sure if this counts as natural, but this zoo in Bouillante gets good reviews, especially if you have small children. Canopy bridges (minimum 8 years old) allow visitors to view animals and rainforest from above.

Guadeloupe Zoo: Route de la Traversee, north of Bouillante and inland from Malendure Beach. Open daily 9-18:00 all year (last admission 16:30). €15.50. Website.

And, of course, beaches!

I didn’t go to many beaches, and there are beaches everywhere, so I can’t give much guidance in this category. If you stay at a hotel, it’ll likely have its own beach, but don’t limit yourself to just that one. I’m listing just a few here fairly randomly.

Datcha Beach

This beach is right in Le Gosier. It’s a white-sand beach with kayak rentals and showers. Food is available along the beach.

Anse du Souffleur

Another beach with full facilities is Anse du Souffleur. If you drive or walk long enough, you can find small isolated bits of beach that you can have to yourself. On one side the waves can be rough, while on the other the water is generally calm.

Leroux Beach

Leroux Beach is said to have good snorkeling. No facilities.

Malendure Beach

I know that Malendure Beach, on the western side of Basse-Terre, is popular and has all of the facilities you might be looking for.

Malendure Beach at sunset. The sun, low in the sky, shows orange through clouds. Boats in silhouette on the water, and, nearer by, a child in silhouette, carrying a pail, runs out of the water.
Malendure Beach is also a great spot to watch the sunset.

Pointe des Chateaux

As I mentioned above, on the way to Pointe des Chateaux, both sides of the road are beaches, separated from the road by low, scrubby vegetation. While there are no facilities until the very tip of the island, you can pull off the road anywhere here and settle down to relax on the beach. You’ll have to bring all your own food, water, towels, etc.

Other things to do in Guadeloupe

Lots of companies in Guadeloupe offer a wide range of different activities. I’m not going to list them all here; it would make this overview far too long. Googling will get you plenty of listings to choose from. Most of them involve water in some way:

Water activities

Guadeloupe is home to an underwater reserve named after Jacques Cousteau. There are plenty of companies that can help you enjoy the reserve.

Snorkeling: I went on a snorkeling tour with La Rand’eau, leaving from L’Anse Duché. You can read about that rather surprising experience here.

Other companies offer diving, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours, paddleboarding and kayaking. You could also go sailing or fishing from various points around the island.

Best things to do on Guadeloupe’s other islands

While Guadeloupe is quite a small territory, it includes some even smaller islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. I only explored the two main islands, but here is an overview of the others.

Îles de La Petite Terre

Îles de La Petite Terre is made up of two uninhabited islands: Terre-de-Bas and the smaller Terre-de-Haut.

Both are protected as a marine and land reserve but are popular places for day trips. Take a boat trip – I suggest sailing rather than going by motorboat – to Petite-Terre to spend a day snorkeling and/or diving and beaching. This place has mixed reviews in terms of the condition of the coral reef. You can take a hike on the island as well, to spot the protected iguanas.

Îles des Saintes

Îles des Saintes is a group of islands south of Basse-Terre. The main islands in the group are Terre-de-Bas and Terre-de-Haut, each with a very small population of a few thousand. The main businesses are fishing and tourism. The other seven small islets are uninhabited.

Terre-de-Haut is only five square kilometers in size, but the village there, Bourg des Saintes, is picturesque and the Catholic Church in the village is worth a visit. Fort Napoleon, the colonial fort on a hill above the village is in good condition and includes a museum of the fort’s history. It sounds like it’s worth the admission price just for the views. Apparently it also includes a conservatory of cactuses from around the world. You can rent a scooter or golf cart to get around.

Fort Napoleon: Terre-de-Haut island. Open daily 9:00-12:30 with last admissions at 12:00. €5. Website (in French).


Besides beaches, which are said to be fabulous, Marie-Galante has three rum distilleries, all of which you can visit and all of which offer tasting. Since the island used to be devoted to sugar production, you’ll spot ruins of windmills here and there.

Habitation Roussel-Trianon

This old sugar refinery/plantation shows a bit of the history of slavery in this region. Website (in French).

Ecomuseum Murat

is another former sugar cane plantation, now a museum illustrating the sugar cane industry.

La Désirade

Part of La Désirade is a geological reserve as well as a marine reserve. It is a geological reserve because it is the oldest island in the Caribbean, with rocks that are of particular interest to geologists. Many of its species of flora and fauna are endemic to the island, including an unusual cactus called tête a l’Anglais. Iguanas are also protected here. The marine reserve (AGOA Marine Mammals Sanctuary) is specifically focused on certain species of whales and dolphins. 

Believe it or not, this Guadeloupe guide is not exhaustive. Guadeloupe has more sights to see and dozens more beaches and activities. I think I can safely say, though, that these are the most visited and most enjoyable ones to see.

If you’re considering a trip to Guadeloupe, book your accommodations through one of these links:


I’ve marked all of the places listed in this article on the map below, so you can plan what you want to do in what order. Have fun!

Since the list doesn’t cover everything, I have a request: if you decide to go to Guadeloupe, I’d love to hear what you thought and what you did. Is there something you’d add to this list? Or something you would remove? Let me know in a comment below!

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Text: A guide to Guadeloupe: What to see and do
Image: Sunset at a beach. Gentle waves in the foreground and the sillhouette of a child running, carrying a pail. On the horizon, silhouettes of moored sailboats. The sun is low in the sky and shines orange through the cloud layer.
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My travel recommendations

Planning travel

  • Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
  • Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
  • Use GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
  • Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
  • Get a Priority Pass if you fly a lot so that you can use airport lounges while you wait for flights. Plan your visits around meals and/or drink times and it’s definitely worth the investment!
  • I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
  • Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
  • I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.


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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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Gosh what some amazing things to do in Guadeloupe. I’d love to visit. Your lead image taken of the side of La Soufrière volcano in Guadeloupe is stunning.

Wow! This pretty much covers everything you might want to do on Guadeloupe! I would definitely want to see the markets–especially the spice market–and that banana museum sounds intriguing. Hope I get there some day.

I never would have guessed that there was so much to do and see on Guadeloupe. Chocolate, rum, and banana museums!! And I agree with one of the other comments, going t e local markets is always a must-do for us with Marche Bergevin first on the list here. When next we decide to visit the Caribbean, we’ll surely have to consider here.

I’ve visited a majority of the islands in the Caribbean but, with the exception of Iles des Saintes, which I visited from a Star Clippers cruise, I have yet to make it to Guadeloupe! I hope to someday and appreciated your overview of all there is to see and do.

OK, Guadeloupe is officially on my bucket list. Pinned.