Caribbean on travelling guide

The tiny seaside town of Deshaies (pronounced Daaaay) might look a little familiar to fans of the BBC drama Death in Paradise, as this is where it was filmed. On the main street is the Mairie (Town Hall) which flies the Tricolore and the EU flag in the Caribbean sunlight while colourful sailing boats bob on the sea beyond. There’s a myriad of cafes and restaurants – a charming mix of French patisseries and West Indian offering fresh seafood, especially lobster.

The islands

The islands of Guadeloupe offer a glimpse into old world Caribbean and yet distinct from each other. Desiderade is wild and undeveloped and the pancake-shaped Marie Galante is rural and unspoiled, filled with sugar cane.

Les Saintes, a series of eight tropical islands located around 10 km (6 mi) south of Guadeloupe, can be reached from Basse Terre by ferry.

Only two are populated and one of those is Terre de Haute, the largest of the eight islands. It is rich in tropical and marine beauty but it was not considered suitable for sugar production because of its hilly terrain. Consequently it had no slaves and locals are descended from Norman and Breton colonists and many have blond or red hair.

Food

Guadeloupe serves up some great dishes, and you can taste influences from Europe, Africa, India and America in the local cuisine.

Restaurant L’Amer in Deshais (c) Judith Baker

In Deshaies, you’ll find an incongruous mix of French patisseries and West Indian diners. There’s no missing L’Amer, painted bright orange. This busy restaurant on the main street overlooks the sea and serves Guadeloupe specialities such as fresh lobster and the aperitif Ti’punch (lemon, rum and sugar).

Beaches
Malendure beach in Bouillante (c) Judith Baker

In Basse Terre the beach of Grand Anse is simply stunning. The sand looks like a ribbon of yellow trimming in front of an emerald jungle. Imagine how beautiful the sunsets are in this scenery.

Guadeloupe’s main island has about 50 beaches with many more on the smaller islands and generally the best beaches can be found on the south west of Grand Terre and the west of Basse Terre. Les Saintes has one of the prettiest beaches in the archipelago.

Nature

The huge lagoon Cul de Sac is enclosed by a 29 kilometre coral reef, a nature reserve that contains a rich ecosystem, mangrove and swamp forest which can be explored by kayak or boat.

In the centre of Basse Terre the national parc, full of hiking trails and here you will find the magical Cascade aux Ecrevisses, a jungle waterfall. The island is home to 270 different ferns and 100 species of orchids.