Towards the end of my fall semester last year, I decided to plan a week long trip with my significant other. I had no destination in mind and decided to look at the map on Google Flights for ideas. Once I set the parameters to under $250, I found some interesting results.
Besides a bunch of Northeastern and Midwestern US cities, French overseas territories Martinique and Guadeloupe, were within budget. Norwegian Airlines offers direct flights to both destinations from New York’s JFK Airport and Fort Lauderdale, giving Americans easy access to these vibrant Caribbean destinations.
We decided on Guadeloupe and were able to get round trip flights for $185 and a homestay for $55 a night.
This ended up being an excellent decision. Our beachfront homestay was in Le Gosier, a town on the main island of Grand Terre, which boasts a night market on Fridays. We spent our first few days lounging on the beach, eating Bokits, a tasty Guadeloupean sandwich which is almost like an arepa. It typically has bread fried in sunflower oil with an egg, cheese and meat or fish.
Ilet Du Gosier, a 5 euro and 5 minute ferry ride away from Le Gosier’s La Datcha beach, is a tranquil island with excellent views that should be visited. After we relaxed for a few days we decided to branch out. Our host, Anny, was nice enough to drive us back to the airport to get a rental car and gave us some recommendations.
Our first day with the car was spent exploring the rest of Grande Terre, where our first stop was the Cimetière de Morne-À-l’Eau. This striking cemetery has hundreds of large raised white and black checkered graves, which look like a village from afar.
Our next stop was the Pointe de la Grand Vigie, a viewpoint from which you can see incredible seaside cliff formations. Later, we drove to the southeasternmost point of the two main islands, Pointe Des Chateaux, where we hiked to the top of and were greeted with wonderful views of La Desirade, a nearby island, and the entirety of Grand Terre.
The entire loop is only a 3 hour drive, which makes this itinerary an excellent day trip for anyone staying on Grande Terre. Although you could choose to spread out the attractions on different days and go at a slower pace, but there’s so much else to see on Basse Terre.
Our next day was spent on Basse Terre, the less traveled of the two main Guadeloupean islands, which is connected by a small land bridge to Grand Terre. Our first stop was the Chutes du Carbet, a group of waterfalls inside of the Guadeloupe National Park. As an aside, the National Park is surprisingly one of only 10 French National Parks. The waterfalls were easily the most picturesque stop of our entire trip and the hike up to the first waterfall wasn’t strenuous.
We had planned on going to the Volcano La Soufriere, but it had been a particularly rainy season, making it nearly impossible to hike up to the active volcano. I was told by our host that this is a must do if conditions permit, so it is certainly something to look into.
Instead, we drove around the perimeter of Basse Terre on the steep and N1 highway which has some absolutely stunning views of the Caribbean sea. We stopped at the Vieux Fort at the Southwesternmost point on the island for the lighthouse and views of Iles Des Saintes and Dominica. It would have been a perfect place for a picnic but we wanted to continue on so we could make it to the beach by sundown.
Before that, we decided to head to the Fort Delgres, an 18th century French fort with interesting history. It was unfortunately closed on the day we went but it gets great reviews.
We decided to slow the hectic pace we had been traveling at and lounge on Plage de Grand Anse, an enormous beach in the Northwestern town of Deshaies. After watching the gorgeous sunset, we went back to Le Gosier for bokits at Au Petit Creux and checked out the bustling Friday night market.
Our week in paradise was ending and we couldn’t wait to return immediately upon leaving. With prices this low, you might as well go too.