Guadeloupe is a small island country in the Caribbean Sea that is a French overseas territory. In Guadeloupe, modern towns peacefully coexist with old villages, and settlements are mixed with dense tropical jungles. This is the location of beautiful sandy beaches. There are many interesting places to explore such as old sugarcane plantations and factories, as well as old distilleries that produce fine rum. In Guadeloupe, tourists can comfortably switch between sightseeing, excursions, and serene recreation.
First settlers appeared on the islands, which are now a part of Guadeloupe, yet in the 4th century BC. The Arawak tribes were the first inhabitants of the islands. For centuries, agriculture and fishing were their main occupations. Christopher Columbus was the first European who stepped on the islands. This happened in 1493. He named the island Santa María de Guadalupe after the Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most famous Spanish monasteries located in Guadalupe, Extremadura.
In the 15th century, combatant Carib tribes inhabited the island. Some of them supposedly were cannibals. Later, more than one explorer fell a victim to these tribes, including Giovanni da Verrazzano. In the first part of the 17th century, French conquerors arrived. They almost completely destroyed Carib tribes and started using the islands for sugarcane cultivation purposes.
Guadeloupe officially became a French property in 1674. Later, the United Kingdom managed to take over the islands several times, but each time France managed to restore its ownership rights. Beautiful islands have kept their natural charm and old cultural traditions that now attract numerous tourists.
Basse-Terre is recognized as the most beautiful island in Guadeloupe. The national park with the same name occupies one-fifth of the island’s territory. There are several interesting hiking trails that cross picturesque areas inhabited by exotic birds, rare animals, and tropical flora. Consider visiting Ancienne usine Grosse Montagne, an old sugar factory that still amazes visitors with its futuristic design.
If you are a fan of beach recreation and diving, the picturesque area of Sainte Rose is perfectly suitable for you. The coastline of this part of the island is a continuous row of beautiful sandy beaches. Some secluded coastal areas let vacationers relax in complete solitude. For more than a decade, this area has attracted fans of scuba diving. There is also Réserve Cousteau, a protected marine area, nearby. At this reserve, visitors can see rare tropical fishes, sea stars and horses, jelly-fish and actinia, and many other marvelous sea creatures.
The charming and historic city of Basse Terre is the capital of Guadeloupe. It was founded yet at the beginning of the 17th century. Basse Terre still has many old churches and the beautiful Fort Saint Charles, now called Fort Delgres, which was built in 1643. Nowadays, there is a big museum of history in the fort. Tourists will also find it interesting to visit a large market that starts near the fort’s walls. In the capital, tourists can see luxurious palaces of the colonial period and admire the breathtaking panoramic view of La Grande Soufrière, an active volcano.
The Guadeloupe National Park is the main natural landmark of the country. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This nature reserve covers an area of more than 17,000 hectares. Numerous lakes, rivers, as well as rare flora make this area truly unique. In this nature reserve, visitors can see rare species of orchids and ferns. Numerous rivers and streams cross dense tropical forests. They form enchanting chains of lakes in some parts of the reserve. The park is also famous for its mesmerizing waterfalls. Maison de la Foret is an exhibition center that is open in the reserve. It regularly hosts thematic events dedicated to the nature of the islands.
Paris and Guadeloupe have a well-established air connection provided by Air France. This is the fastest and most affordable way to reach the islands. There is an international airport on Grande-Terre Island that accepts flights from 28 different countries of Europe and North America. Moreover, the islands have a large port that accepts big cruise ships. It is possible to reach Guadeloupe islands from European countries by ship at a certain time of the year.
Read further: Cities and sights of Guadeloupe