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Guadeloupe March 2015 trip report
      #1648349 - 04/15/15 01:22 PM (

Guadeloupe 2015
Observations on Guadeloupe:
French. Guadeloupe is a very French island. By that I mean what is mostly spoken by the locals is French or Creole. My knowledge of both those languages is very limited, but my wife is from Haiti, so she speaks both fluently, so we (or I should say she) had no problems communicating. But if you only speak English, it could be difficult. You might be okay at a large tourist resort, but we did not stay at one, so I cannot speak to that. I am using the French name for places as that is how they are named in Guadeloupe. Plage means beach in case you did not know that.

Roads. The roads were wonderful. Even away from the main road, the streets were well paved. The signs were very good, but the route numbers were difficult to determine once you were on a road. Guadeloupe is a large island, and a GPS is really helpful, but the car rental company (Sixt) was out of GPS when we got our car. We manage to borrow a phone with a GPS from a friend on the island. I would not recommend Sixt. Biking must be a major sport on the islands as we saw a number of groups of people on bicycles really working out.
Sites. Hiking and viewing waterfalls is a major attraction in Guadeloupe. We did not do that. We talked to some people who tried to hike to the top of the volcano on a Sunday and it was too packed to finish the hike. There are a lot of beach around. Most are not too well kept up, except those at major tourist spots.

Getting there. It was not easy getting a flight to Guadeloupe in the same day, so we opted to fly in and out of St Martin and spend a few days there on each end. We took flights out of the Grand Case airport back and forth to Guadeloupe. The flights were easy, the airport at Grand Case is small, but our scheduled 1:10 pm return flight was changed to 4:30 pm. I had booked on Expedia, so they sent me an e-mail. I did not have e-mail often, but I did get the message. Calling the airline to see what was going on was almost impossible. We finally did find out that a part needed to be replaced on one of the planes, so it was down for who knows how long. That did cost us an afternoon on Orient Beach.

Day one. I drive through the middle of Terre Basse got us to the house in Pointe Noire that our friend was renting. Nice small town, but not a tourist destination.

Day two. A friend that lived on the islands took us on a circle island tour of Terre Basse. Guadeloupe is like a butterfly with two large islands separated by a small stream of water. Terry Basse is more mountainous and rainy. Terre Grande is flatter and dryer. We stopped at the Jarden Botanitical a few miles North of Pointe Noire for a self guided tour of the gardens. I think it was around 13 euros each. It is a nice stop if you like plants.

Day three. On our own we drove to La Maison du Cacao. For 7 or 8 euros we took a self guided tour of the small grounds and saw different types of Cacao trees. The signs were in both English and French. The presentation on the preparation of chocolate was in French. I was the only English speaking around, but they might have done an English speaking one if there were more of us. I do not like chocolate, so I did not mind. My wife enjoyed the tasting. On our last day we stopped by to pick up some chocolate to take home. After lunch we stopped at Plage de la Melandure for the black sand beach. Here we found the most tourists on the beach and taking boats out to see the Jacques Cousteau Reserve. One of the tour operators even had a sign "English spoken." Another scuba/snorkel boat packed with about 20 people had written "small groups" on the side. We just watched from the beach. The black sand was hard and very hot. We left there and stopped at Plage des Caraibes, the closest beach to Pointe Noire. It was mostly a beach for locals to have a picnic.

Day four. On Friday we drove to Trois Reveire for a ferry to Terre de Haut in the islands of Les Saintes. Got there just in time to take the 9 am Val Ferry. It cost 23 euros each for a round trip ticket and 3 euros for parking. It was windy and the seas were a little high both ways. We had to get up early to make the ferry, so we were hungry by the time we got to Terre de Haut. Unfortunately, this being a French island, the restaurants did not open until noon. So we got some food at a local bakery. We wanted to walk up to Fort Napoleon, but the trip turned out to be longer than we anticipated, so we walked across the island to Baie de Pampiere. Lots of tables in the shade for eating, but no place to change. Not many people around so we went by the rocks and changed there. We did see some people having a picnic, but it was somewhat interrupted when a goat jumped on the table asking for food. Too much sea weed on the beach and in the water, so we kept walking around the shore to another beach. No seaweed, but lots of rocks in the water. Then the rains came so we started back to town. We enjoyed some drinks by the pier waiting for our ferry to return to Guadeloupe.

Day five, Saturday. This was a shopping day for the ladies, so I stayed at the house, did my exercising and physical therapy. The Pointe Noire version of the Tour de France was going on in the street in front of the house, so that added some adventure.

Day six, Sunday. This was the day for a large Haitian dinner from the food bought the day before. Not a lot going on at night near us, but I played a lot of dominoes with our friends on the island. It is a major activity there for the men. Fortunately, I was able to hold my own and even win a few time.

Day seven, Monday. Another beach day. We were looking for a beach where we could rent lounge chairs. Stopped at Grande Anse. There were a lot of people, but no chairs to rent. A little farther north we stopped at Fort Royal. There for 10 euros, we were able to get chairs. The beach was really nice and we had good lunch at the hotel beach bar.

Day eight, Tuesday. Today was our day to explore Grand Terre. We went all the way to the Pointe des Chateaux on the Eastern end of the island. Three large tour buses were there, plus a lot of cars, but it was well worth the stop. It was an easy walk to see the small islands not far from the coast. We even got to buy a few souvenirs from the local vendors. We went back to San Francois for lunch at a local restaurant, but when we walked through the restaurant all we saw were hungry people and no food on the tables. After finally finding a place to eat we headed back to Pointe Tarare for the beach. It was not easy to find as someone had blacked out the signs.

Day nine. It was time to leave and drive back to the airport for our flight to St Martin.

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