LOCATION: Guadeloupe lies between Montserrat and Antigua, to the north, and Dominica, to the south— approximately midway between Puerto Rico and Barbados.
CLIMATE: As you would expect in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe’s daily highs tend to be in the 80s, but temperatures are cooler in the mountains of Basse-Terre. Those mountains also force the ocean breezes to climb higher, which makes them cool off and, since cool air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, rain. Ergo, Basse-Terre’s rainforests. The other islands present no barrier to ocean breezes, so the winds pass across them without raining very much, especially between November and May. Summer and early fall are, not surprisingly for the Caribbean, the rainy season.
POPULATION: About a half million people live on these islands. The majority are Afro-Caribbean, but sizable minorities of Indians and Caucasian Frenchmen call Guadeloupe home, as do a good number of people who are all of the above. Roman Catholicism is far and away the dominant religion.
LANGUAGE: While the dominant languages are French (the official language) and Creole, locals in tourism-oriented businesses (hotels, restaurants, clubs, stores, dive shops, etc.) speak English.
GETTING THERE: Regional carriers like Air Caraibes and LIAT have long offered direct flights from other islands to International Pôle Caraïbes (PTP). In spring 2013, American Airlines announced new nonstop weekly flights from Miami, and Seabourne Airlines responded with four weekly nonstops from San Juan International Airport (SJU). Air Canada flies nonstop weeklies from Montreal.
GETTING AROUND: In addition to PTP near Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe has airports on Iles des Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La Désirade for short hops from Grande-Terre. However, most visitors just take one of the ferries from various points, including Saint-François, Pointe-à-Pitre, and on Basse-Terre, Trois-Rivières.
ACCOMMODATIONS: All-inclusives include the Club Med La Caravelle Resort and, on Basse-Terre, the Langley Resort Fort Royal, and some (relative) high-rise hotels and condos line part of the beach in Gosier, on Grande-Terre. However, most of Guadeloupe’s lodgings are small- and mid-size hotels as well as villas, apartments, eco-lodges and B&Bs. The greatest concentration of these lodgings is in Gosier and other parts of the beachy south coast of Grande-Terre, but recent years have also seen the opening of new
accommodations on other islands, especially Basse-Terre. For in-depth information on accommodations, visit edu.recommend.com/guadeloupe.
ENTRY DOCUMENTS: Passport required for U.S. and Canada citizens; must be valid up to six months beyond leaving the country. No visa required for stays up to 90 days.
COUNTRY TELEPHONE CODE: 590. Note that most phone numbers begin with area code 0590, and you have to leave out the first zero when dialing from the United States, so you dial 011-590-590 plus the remaining six numbers. The area code for cellular numbers is: 0690. When calling those numbers, the same rule applies with the “0” in the area code: Dial 011-590-690 plus the other numbers.
TIME ZONE: Clocks in Guadeloupe are one hour ahead of clocks on the U.S. east coast in winter, but in summer, when North America is following Daylight Savings Time, Guadeloupe—which does not reset its clocks—is the same time as the U.S. east coast.
ELECTRIC CURRENT: 220 volts, so travelers from North America should carry adapters and transformers with European-style round pins.
MONEY MATTERS: Because Guadeloupe is a département of France, the currency is the euro.
TAXES: There is no departure tax, but there is an 8.5% VAT. In addition, hotels and other lodgings add a hotel tax of €0.15 to €1.50 per person per day.