a small, underrated island in the French Caribbean
I took a solo trip to Guadeloupe (not Guadalupe, Mexico) for Martin Luther King Jr Day weekend and spent three days exploring this small, inexpensive, super friendly French-Caribbean island. The total cost of my trip was about $300 for the weekend, including flight, accommodation, and food.
My eighth grade French teacher was from this small island, and she spoke very highly of Guadeloupe. I’m always on the hunt for an inexpensive short haul trip on holiday weekends, so I started looking around on Google Flights Friday or Saturday to Monday flights. When I saw cheap, direct flights to Guadeloupe on Norwegian Air during the holiday weekend, I started monitoring the flight prices. I quickly realized the flight would not get any cheaper than $200 roundtrip nonstop (Perks of living in a city with a hub airport!). Also, as a U.S. Citizen, you don’t need a visa to travel here, so I just had to pay for the flight to get there.
I stayed in Grande-Terre in an Airbnb in a neighborhood very close to the beach called Le Gosier with a French/Canadian/Guadeloupean family. To give you an idea of the island, Guadeloupe is comprised of two islands connected in the middle by a bridge. One side is called Grande-Terre and the other is called Basse-Terre. Both sides offer something for everyone. Grande-Terre is more of the party side with the best beaches and nightlife and is closer to the airport whereas Basse-Terre offers more nature sights, such as La Soufriere Volcano and the National Park. Although you can’t really get a feel for a place through what you read on the internet but rather experiencing it yourself, a good starting point for me was Trip Advisor’s Guadeloupe page, which entails a list of popular touristy things to do. I ultimately decided to stay in Grande-Terre since I was only staying there for three days and did not think I had enough to hike as much as I wanted to on this trip. I chose to stay at this Airbnb in Le Gosier, because it was only $30 a night (most Airbnbs are super cheap here). My home had over 30 reviews all with great ratings, and resided in a central location.. I was walking distance to the beach, restaurants, bars, and the main road. Most people rent a car when they go to Guadeloupe, but being the city girl that I am, I don’t have a license. Also, they drive on the other side of the street, so I usually walked, got a ride from my host family, or got a ride from the street with no problem. Although my Airbnb was listed as a private room, I had my own entrance with its own key to the room and the room had all the essentials besides a stove/oven area. The room had two beds (one queen and one full), a full bathroom, an eating area, a coffee machine, a mini-fridge fully stocked with juice, milk, beer, butter and jam. My host family also provided me with breakfast each morning, which included bread, butter, and yogurt. I felt very safe staying in this Airbnb home. I was happy to have my own space but also was close enough where I could interact with them. Here is a video of what my AirBnb looked like:
A beautiful, peaceful beach with restaurants and bars along the water where people come to hang out on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with their families and friends.
Zouk night club in Le Gosier (no cover charge, open until about 5 am)
Every Caribbean island celebrates Carnaval differently and Guadeloupe has been the most different variation that I’ve seen so far. In 2018, from January 7 to March 8, Guadeloupeans all over the island celebrate carnaval in each town every Sunday night, and during the last week, there is a celebration every single night. Yes, you read that correctly. Guadeloupe turns up for a full two months! This is definitely my type of place!! One of the locals I met took me to a town called Sainte-Anne, which is one of the towns that have the biggest carnaval celebrations. Thousands of people standing in the street waiting, dancing, and socializing as the different bands parade along playing the drums and music throughout the day. This is an all day event. There are also competitions among the different bands and the winner is announced the last week.
I stayed in Le Gosier and ate along D119, a road that has direct access (walking and driving) to the beach and many restaurants. The first night, I ate at a restaurant along D119, called Le Tabarin, which was just a 10-minute walk from my Airbnb and served local Caribbean creole cuisine. The next night, after carnaval had died down, one of the locals I met took me to a food truck near Sainte Anne that had different types of burgers. I ate one with ground beef, egg, cheese, lettuce and tomato. It was honestly one of the best burgers I had ever eaten. For wines/spirits, I had a French wines and also tried Gwada, the local Guadelopean beer. Gwada is an American Pale Lager style beer brewed locally. If you like lagers, I highly recommend!