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We visited Guadeloupe for 1 day on a cruise (please see Rudy's Cruise Guide).
Guadeloupe is a Caribbean island which belongs to France and the primary language is French and the currency is the Euro.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on the island and named it Santa María de Guadalupe. When the French colonized the island starting in 1635, they renamed it to Guadeloupe. In the following years, the island changed hands a few times, slavery was abolished and then reinstated and then permanently abolished in 1848. In 1816, the Treaty of Vienna ratified French control over Guadeloupe. The population is about 400,000.
Tourism is a major industry and more than 80% of all visitors come from France, 11% from other European countries, only 3-4% from the US and half of that from Canada. The cruise ship terminal is in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s largest city and economic center.
Guadeloupe is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, but compared to other French overseas territories, its crime rate is among the highest.
Our plan was to see some sights in Pointe-a-Pitre and then visit a beach for sunbathing and snorkeling.
Short list of beaches for sunbathing and snorkeling: La Caravelle and Petite Terre
La Caravelle is probably the most famous beach on Guadeloupe while Petite Terre has the best snorkeling. We decided for La Caravelle, because trips to Petite Terre were real expensive and would not have allowed us to see Pointe-a-Pitre.
From there we drove to the beach at La Caravelle. Parking over there is difficult, but we were able to find a spot. When we first got to the ocean, we were disappointed as we saw tons of seagrass and fairly high waves and nobody in the water except for the occasional surfer. We soon realized that this is not the La Caravelle beach and that we had to walk South to get to the beach. La Caravelle beach has beautiful white sand and turquoise water. The beach is actually fairly long, but we decided to stay at the Southern tip. Where the water gets waist-deep, the seagrass starts, so swimming is a bit of a challenge. There is some snorkeling in the seagrass area, but nothing to brag about. A little to the North West is a concrete wall with some boulders. Snorkeling there was significantly better.
West of the plaza is the bright yellow painted Cathedral of St Pierre and St Paul, that is sometimes called the Iron Cathedral because of its iron work on the inside. The inside of the cathedral is plain but nicely decorated.
From the cruise terminal, it is a short walk to Place de la Victoire. The plaza itself is a quiet place with quite a few stands selling souvenirs to the South and, about 200ft away, a farmer’s market where you can buy fruits and vegetables.
We then walked to the Hertz car rental center where we rented a car and drove to Fort Fleur-d'Epée. The fort was built from 1750 to 1763 above the town of Gosier. It has an old cannon and some of the underground tunnels and rooms are accessible. The fort has great views of Pointe-a-Pitre as well as Grande Baie and the Westernmost beach in Gosier.