OK, here’s my two-cents about vacationing in Guadeloupe.
Norwegian direct flight from Logan: obviously great price but also clean, new planes and great employees.
Language: BELIEVE it when you are told no one speaks English! We had a hard time communicating (especially over the phone) and finally realized it was easiest to text message our villa contact so we could translate each others questions/directions. We also used google translate to read menus and some signs. I knew and used the rudimentary pleasantries, like Bonjour and merci, which is greatly appreciated by the locals. Through out all our language issues, the locals we encountered were patient and friendly. A smile and “desole, non french” (sorry no french) will get you a long way.
Roads: Roads out of the airport and over to Basse-terre are your standard highway, modern and safe. Farther into the “countryside” roads get smaller but are still safe with some guardrails. Locals do drive fast and sometimes creep across the centerline when zooming around corners but go slow and you’ll be fine (and probably be passed!)
Accommodations: We rented a villa in Ferry through Le-Hamac (who spoke zero English!) They were very nice and patient with the language barrier and seemed to be managing many of the villas around Deshaies. There were some adorable gites on Grande Anse and a small hotel at the end of Grande Anse that I would look into if we were to come back for a quick stay. If you want to be able to walk to the beach or bus stop, be aware of how high up the hill you are. From google maps I thought I could walk down to Plage Leroux from our villa. Once there, I realized the “hill” was more like a mountain and even someone like myself that’s used to walking hills would have a hard time.
Beaches: Plage Leroux in Ferry was our local beach and a nice one. Great snorkeling off to the left side. Nice restaurant at top of the road and Boulangerie across the street. Grande Anse Beach was beautiful and very social and busy. Lots of small lunch spots and vendors right by the parking lot. If you wanted a quieter scene, walk to your right down the beach a ways. Do be careful when the waves are up here. We saw an ambulance twice here and watched people get tumbled if they weren’t very careful timing their entrance and exit from the water. Anse de le Pearle was a great beach, a little quieter than Grande Anse. Also our favorite meal was at Boo Boo’s here on the beach. Petite Anse beach was VERY petite and crowded. Also quite the waves here. We tried snorkeling off to the right and were not impressed. Driving from this beach onto the curvy mountain road is a bit frightening as the access road is very steep and you come out at a very sharp turn. Be careful! We only hung out at Plage de le Malendure to wait for our dive boat out to Pidgeon Island for a snorkel. It’s another very busy, commercial beach with lots of restaurants and vendors. Good people watching. The snorkeling out at Pidgeon Island was amazing. Well worth the trip.
Food: We grocery shopped and cooked several meals at home. We were happy with the choices and produce and especially the bread (baguettes and croissants, yumm!) Meals out were good. Not mind blowing but good. Tried some creole specialties that were new to us. My husband and BIL fell in love with the T-Punch drink. Too strong for me.
Zoo: I would highly recommend visiting the zoo on Basse-terre. The drive into the rainforest is a hoot in itself, then you walk along the well-maintained boardwalk past the animals, surrounded by tropical flowers, towering trees and vines. We expected tarzan to come swinging through at any moment! Do traverse the tree-top swinging bridge course. So fun and a big adrenaline rush!
Volcano: While the girls were doing the zoo, my husband and son climbed the volcano. They were glad they did it, though it was very crowded and a harder hike than they expected and it was clouded over at top. They said the views were spectacular on the way up and the flora and fauna up there very mars-like.
This was a very spur-of-the-moment trip for us and I’m glad we took advantage of the great fares to experience something new. It was totally different than the usual places we go (Eleuthera, Exuma, Virgin Gorda) which are much quieter with deserted beaches and little infrastructure. I can see my husband and I going back for a quick get-away, especially if Norwegian keeps their fares so low.
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OK, here’s my two-cents about vacationing in Guadeloupe.