Guadeloupe overview : discover
Discover : Overview of Guadeloupe
Islands of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is the biggest island of the Lesser Antilles (1,703 km2).
Basse-Terre is a mountainous region..
The Soufriere, youngest of a succession of similar volcanoes, is the highest of Antillais volcanoes (1,467m). Since the beginning of colonisation, it has erupted six times, though each time phreatic (there is a 2-2.5 million-year-old extinct underwater volcano south of Basse-Terre, “le volcan du Directeur”) Vulcanologists take special interest in this region, bestowing an exceptional geographical value on Basse-Terre due to its particular volcanic activity. The deep green shades of the region’s tropical forest granted the island its nickname of Emerald Island. Tourists today enjoy the numerous excursions it provides, and are no longer taken aback by its hilly and mountainous nature.
This vast lagoon of 15,000 hectares is situated between Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, enclosed by the coral reef of the Lesser Antilles. It is unfortunately endangered by soaring demography and industry in the Pointe-a-Pitre region. This natural reserve site, created in 1987 houses mangroves, swamps, a multitude of underwater plants and coral reefs on 2,115 hectares of sea territory and 1,622 hectares of forest or herbaceous coastline. Guided tours are organised by the Tourist Office of this national park, in the course of which you can discover the strange calmness of mangroves and the Guava river (riviere a Goyave). A path built entirely on piles, as well as a bird observation tower are currently under construction, these sites will be in the vicinity of the airport, accessible by car.
Grande Terre (590 km2).
A calcareous, flat island with small volcanoes of maximum 135m. A highly urbanised region with vast fields and sugarcane plantations rendering it a typical West Indian landscape, with Pointe-a-Pitre as industrial capital. The untamed beauty of Castle Point (Pointe des Châteaux) to the east, and Lookout Point (Pointe de la Grande-Vigie) way up north are a sound reminder of coastal areas in Britanny.
A dry, sandy, calcareous and clayey island, watchtower of the archipelago, to the east of Grande-Terre. Climbing its Grande-Montagne offers a beautiful view from its 273-meter height. The island disposes of only one road, west of the Galets, towards the lighthouse in the east, in the direction of the weather station.
A pancake-shaped island of 158 km2, south east from Guadeloupe. The cliffs of its northern coast offer a splendid view of a perfectly preserved nature.
Two small islands and a couple of rocky desert islands make up the archipelago of the Saints, ten kilometres south of Guadeloupe. Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas are the two main territories, Terre-de-Haut being of a slightly longish shape (6 km long and only 2 km wide), with an uneven coastline. Its highest point, Camel Hill (Morne du Chameau) is a beautiful lookout point of 309m, from where you can marvel at the lovely view of the other islands. Terre-de-Bas is of a much more untamed nature, with practically no access to the sea.
How to describe Guadeloupe, whose fragile yet stocky silhouette emerges like a dream from the deep blue shades of the Caribbean Sea? If you’re a lover of the sun, a devotee of coconut trees or an admirer of turquoise waters, the best we can do is advise you to take the first flight available towards our overseas territories, and experience for yourself the marvels it proposes. The sea here is sure to enthral fishermen and surfers, but also simple sunbathers or those vagabonds of wind and waves, who will pursue the sea breeze wherever it may lead them, towards these islands of the enchanting names: La Desirade, Marie-Galante, the Saints, and other mysterious places, giving you a brief moment’s insight into paradise.
In order to feel at ease, it is important to take into consideration a couple of issues that continentals tend to leave behind when arriving to the islands. The West Indies is partly France, but is also quite far from the mainland, and as we all know, prejudice travels faster than airplanes, and postcards are the best collection of stereotypes we could ever lay hands on. A great deal of history lurks behind the islands’ smiling faces, tropical parties and colourful rum punch, traditions are observed and memories often hurtful. Though past deeds may seem far away, they are never totally forgotten, and mentalities evolve according to circumstances and situations. West Indian history is a tale of populations in constant meeting, opposition, superposition or mixing, and the tourist-client is sometimes reminded that he is not always in command. In spite of a real effort of communication from both sides, old grudges can come to the surface from one minute to the other, reminding us that whatever we may think right, Guadeloupe is still an overseas department, and as such, dependent of Metropolitan France to our days.