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Guadeloupe – the French Caribbean island (Part 1: Grande Terre)

Max und Steffi am Hotelstrand in Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe captivated us from the start.

We chose Guadeloupe as the starting point for our six-month family trip. Here you can find out whether this decision was the right one and what you can experience here. In our first blog about the island with two wings we report on the first two weeks on Grande Terre.


 “Karukera” or “Kalaoucera” is what the Arawak, the first known indigenous people, called what is now Guageloupe. The “Island of Beautiful Waters” certainly deserves this name. The Caribs, who had been invading since 1400, adopted this name, which was only changed by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Typical actually: The Spanish sailor named the island after the shrine of the same name in the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe monastery in the Spanish city of Guadalupe. When the archipelago became a French colony, the Spanish name was retained but adapted to French spelling and phonetics. Today the residents simply call their island “Gwada”, a name that you hear here again and again. But that doesn't explain why we ended up here.


French island

When we decided to go on a six- to seven-month family trip, we never knew where we would end up. First and foremost we wanted to escape the winter and through another travel blog we came to Guadeloupe. As already described in our last blog, the island belongs to France and offers all sorts of advantages to newcomers to the Caribbean like us. The only problem is the language: almost everyone on the island only speaks French and attempts to communicate in English are often ignored. The sparse mix of outdated school and rather bumpy Duolingo French helped us at least every now and then. Without French it will be difficult here.

The best way to get to Guadeloupe is via Paris. Air France flies to the Caribbean island several times a week at moderate prices. The alternative airlines are, at least if you read the internet reviews, less exciting. A flight to Paris from Vienna takes just under two hours. The onward flight to the Caribbean takes around 8.5 hours. It's a good idea to spend at least one day in Paris if you have enough time - at least that's what we did. Long waiting times at stopovers are not to our liking.

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Not an island for budget vacations

Since we obviously always have to keep an eye on our travel budget on our long-term trip, we originally decided not to rent a car on the island. A decision we soon regretted. Firstly, the taxis here are not only expensive, but extremely expensive and secondly, the public transport is nowhere near as well developed as some blogs and travel guides make it out to be. Two examples:

  1. For the 36 kilometer taxi ride from the airport to our apartment, we paid 130 euros immediately after our arrival. Hallelujah!

  2. We only paid around 20 euros for the same distance by public bus from our apartment back to the airport, but we were on the road for an extremely uncomfortable four hours. (Why did we do that in the first place? We picked up a rental car for the remaining three weeks.) Regular shopping alone makes a rental car essential and trips on the public bus are less fun here, even if we are very humorous.

In addition to the high costs for taxis and rental cars, it is primarily the costs for everyday items that attack the bank balance in Guadeloupe. We now have a few tips for this too:

Don't go out to eat: Restaurants are very expensive. Almost no main course can be found for less than 15 euros, not to mention the drinks.

  • Cook yourself: If you want to save money, you should look for a room or apartment with cooking facilities. The prices in the supermarket are also quite high here, but they are still much cheaper than a Cesars salad on the beach for 24 euros.

  • Street food: If you still get hungry on the go, you should look around for one of the numerous street food stands. Here we recommend bokits, fried sandwiches with different fillings. These things are very filling and can be had for as little as 3 euros.

  • Choose the right supermarket: Here too, the choice of store makes a big difference. Our first purchase in a large Carrefour shocked us (apart from the fact that we couldn't get back to our apartment without a car and had to hitchhike - two nice German tourists ended up giving Max a lift with the purchases). If you want to get it cheaper, choose a market in the Leader Price chain, where you get more for your money.

  • Take a rental car: Even if a rental car from one of the international quality providers (we like them) costs around 400 euros per week in high season, it is still worth the money. You can get around the island, you can drive to many places and, above all, wonderful beaches yourself and you will certainly save yourself several times over on one of the overpriced taxis or the also very expensive guided excursions. It's definitely worth it if you take a closer look.

  • Choose the right accommodation: There are also many different types of accommodation in Guadeloupe. We set ourselves the goal of never paying more than 100 euros per night - which isn't always easy for four people, but we succeeded. For the first time we booked an apartment through AIrbnb and we are very satisfied. The effort to do intensive research on various platforms before booking is actually always worth it. We are happy to provide tips in this regard upon request.

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Of course, the costs are one of the most important points when traveling, because without money you have to stay at home and even there life is expensive. Nevertheless, we now want to leave the financial aspect behind us and focus more on the island, the beaches, the people and the culture of Guadeloupe. This place has so much to offer on all levels.


A beautiful butterfly

If you're looking for Guadeloupe on the map, you just have to look for the island with the butterfly shape. The Caribbean island lies between Montserrat and Dominiqua and is similar in size to Gran Canaria - even if you spend four weeks like we did, there is enough to see. We never get bored when we travel anyway, or we enjoy boredom consciously and to the fullest, because not having to do anything is the real luxury.

Karte von Guadeloupe
This is Guadeloupe and the marker shows the Manganao Residence in Saint Francois.

On the first day we were almost blown away by the lush vegetation, the pleasant climate and the beautiful beaches with turquoise water. Beach lovers will definitely get their money's worth here, as there is plenty of it here and the temperatures are very bearable at just under 30 degrees Celsius. We actually like the tropical humidity - that's just how it is near the equator.


Beaches to fall in love with

A butterfly has two wings, just like Guadeloupe. The right “wing”, called Grande Terre, on which the capital Pointe á Pitre and the airport are located, is relatively flat but has a few more beaches. The left wing, Basse Terre, is a bit more mountainous and is largely covered by dense tropical forests, but there are also beautiful beaches here. We spend our first two weeks in the Caribbean on Grand Terre, very close to the port town of Saint Francois. Here we want to take the time to really “wind down” so that we can start off on further adventures completely relaxed. We should succeed perfectly here.


Our first accommodation

Since, as already mentioned, we cannot stay in 5 star hotels on a trip of this length, we decided in most cases to look for relatively cheap accommodation with cooking facilities and book it in advance. We had originally toyed with the idea of ​​starting without pre-booking, but with four people, looking for a hostel on site can be not only tedious but also expensive. We really wanted to avoid that.

We chose the former Hotel & Residence Manganao, which offers many different options. The beautiful complex in itself would have been too expensive for our purposes until three years ago, but in 2020 the hotel went bankrupt and sold the rooms and apartments to private individuals. You can find a number of rooms from different providers on or Airbnb.

The Manganao Resort was once a top hotel - it's time for a renovation. Nevertheless, we felt very comfortable there. The Airbnb apartment was great.

We were very lucky with our host Nicole and her Airbnb apartment: for just over 100 euros a day, we were able to stay in this holiday apartment with three rooms, a terrace and a small but well-equipped kitchen for two weeks. Despite the language barrier, the helpfulness and hospitality were a big plus during this time.

The holiday resort itself is obviously past its prime, but we already knew that from our internet research and the reviews that have tended to get worse since “privatization”. The gardens and the hotel's own beach are still well maintained, but progressive decay is visible in other corners. There is clearly a lack of consistent and professional management here to bring this resort with great potential back into shape. It would still be possible to bring the hotel back into shape, but it would really be a shame. We still felt very comfortable in the complex, even though we were the only German speakers out of several hundred guests.

Saint Francois and the surrounding area

We were forced to make most of our “excursions” to the nearest town of Saint-Francois. The community with just over 13,000 inhabitants is located on the southeastern tip of Grande-Terred and has made a name for itself as a tourist resort. From here there are boat connections to the island of La Désirade. In addition to the tourist infrastructure including a large hotel complex, a golf course, a casino and an airport for small and sports aircraft, there are large agricultural areas in and around Saint-François that have existed at least since the 18th century and were primarily used to grow cotton and sugar cane and become. We bought our most important everyday items here and took the public bus from the port to the international airport to pick up our rental car.

Guadeluope is comparatively less touristy and the influx of guests is concentrated in the well-known hotspots, whose beaches were also the most crowded. However, there is no comparison here with the well-known “sardine beaches” of Italy or the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, car traffic is very heavy on the main routes and at peak times and you have to chug along in a column for long stretches. But with the French-Caribbean attitude to life, even that isn't a problem. You simply take your time here.


Our excursion tips

We took it very easy here. Our trip should not be a classic vacation trip but more of a “life on the go”. We will continue to teach our children - albeit a little less than at school - and the effort our blog takes is close to a small part-time job. Nevertheless, on an island like Guadeloupe we can't just sit around in our apartment and have made some excursions that we can describe:

  • Trip to Pointe-à-Pitre: Our trip to the capital of Guadeloupe was worth it. We were here during carnival season and witnessed the largest carnival parade on the entire island. In the Caribbean, carnival is even more important than here. At this time of year, it seems, everyone is in a good mood, slightly euphoric and more united than at the rest of the year. Our tip for the big parade: Take your time and don't come on the stated start date, as the actual parade probably doesn't start until 2 hours later. It's best to take enough food and drink and folding chairs with you, then you'll be just as infected by the festival atmosphere, the many drummers and drummers and the colorful costumes as the locals. Travel time around 1 hour (depending on traffic)

The carnival parade in Pointe á Pitre was loud and atmospheric.

  • Walk to Anse de Rochers: Less than 15 minutes' walk away is Anse des Rochers, offering an easily accessible alternative to the hotel's beautiful bay and swimming pool. From the exit turn right and shortly after the garbage containers into the dead-end street and after 250 meters you are at the sea. From here you can finally stroll to the right along the lonely beach, after a short stretch of forest you will pass a hotel complex and finally end up on a beautiful Caribbean beach with a bathtub atmosphere. Fantastic. 15 – 20 minutes on foot

Our walk to Anse Rocher was a dream.

  • Drive to Pointe des Chateaux: The road to the island's outermost “Zipf” is a popular jogging and cycling route and an absolute must for visitors to Guadeloupe. Here you can take a circular route to one of the best views on the island and snorkel and relax at the adjacent and very natural Plage grande anse des salines (be careful: there is no natural shade here). Travel time from the hotel: A comfortable 20 minutes

A trip to the Pointe des Chateaux is a must in Guadeloupe.

  • Le Gosier: As is often the case in the Caribbean, two worlds lie close together in the town of Le Gosier. In addition to beautiful beach villas and nice townhouses, you will come across countless dilapidated, partly inhabited, partly uninhabited huts. Once you get used to this sight, it quickly becomes a typical part of the Caribbean. Not everything here is polished to a high gloss, even if the “facade” has clearly been worked on in some places. The beach at Le Gosier exudes a lot of local color. Many locals come here after, before and apparently also during work and enjoy the various street food stands. Tourists are mainly found in the two trendy beach bars with equally trendy prices (a milkshake costs 8 euros). Here you can also borrow canoes and water wheels to take them (or a small ferry) to a very attractive offshore island with a lighthouse and beach. Good swimmers can do it without any aids. Travel time from the hotel: 40 minutes

You could even swim to the offshore island in Le Gosier.

  • Trip to the beaches of Anse Betrand and Plage Du Souffleur: Fans of picturesque beaches will enjoy this. However, the journey there can take 1 to 1.5 hours (including rain showers and procedures, like ours). Nevertheless, a trip to the northern coast of Grand Terre is worth it. The extensive Plage Du Souffleur is particularly suitable for families with children. There is plenty of parking, several reasonably priced street food carts, a beach restaurant (with pizza) and plenty of shaded seating. You can spend hours here. Anse Betrand also impresses with its beautiful location: there are two beach restaurants, an area for surfers and a children's playground. Travel time 1 – 1.5 hours (plan stops and other sightseeing if necessary)

Anse Bertrand und Souffleur
Here you will find Anse Bertrand and prompter.

The north coast of Grande Terre has some beautiful beaches on offer.

  • Sainte Anne: The town of Sainte Anne is located halfway between Pointe-à-Pitre and Saint-Francois and is one of the tourist hotspots. No wonder, because the beach is beautiful and the infrastructure is well developed. Groups of French pensioners are likely to spend their winters here. Saint Anne and its fine beach promenade are definitely worth a visit. Travel time from Hotel Manganao around 30 minutes.

The beaches of Sainte Anne and Caravelle have absolute magazine character!

  • Plage de la Caravelle: Another Caribbean beach gem is the Caravelle. It's not for nothing that the local Club Med has put down its roots here. However, the beach in front of the luxury resort is public and a real highlight. Travel time from the hotel is around 35 minutes (just after Sainte Anne turn towards the coast).

Important: If you come by car, you should arrive at most of these destinations between 8 and 9, as parking spaces are in short supply after that.

Munchkin im Appartement
When it rained we just played Munchkin in the apartment!


After two weeks at Grande Terre we are still as excited as we were on the first day. This part of Guadeloupe has a lot to offer for singles and couples as well as families looking for relaxation. The Caribbean beaches are straight out of a catalog and even if you want to go on a reasonably cheap vacation, you can do it here with the right planning and the right accommodation. These two weeks make us want more: more Guadeloupe, more Caribbean. We will spend the following 12 days on the south coast of Basse-Terre in a small bed and breakfast in Trois-Rivières before we continue on to the Dominican Republic. Stay tuned, we will report on it...


If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to send us a message.

Kind regards from somewhere, Steffi, Max and Co.

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