Ever holidayed at a butterfly-shaped archipelago in the Caribbean Sea? No? Then do visit Guadeloupe, a cluster of islands in the eastern Caribbean and is a French overseas department. It is housed southeast of Puerto Rico. If you crave for pristine white beaches, verdant mountains, sparkling coral reefs and the unique Franco-Caribbean culture then Guadeloupe is the perfect destination for you.
Kick-start the trip by heading over to the gorgeous beaches. Lounge around on the black, volcanic sands in the Caribbean. Head over to Plage de la Perle on Grand-Terre and bask on its sun-drenched sand and towering palm trees. For gaining more seclusion, explore Sainte-Anne on Grand-Terre. If you are the adventurous kind, trek up the La Grande Soufriere, an active volcano, which peaks at 1,467m (4,813ft). Do make it to the top to view the gorgeous luscious peaks of the surrounding islands.
Do drop by to explore the ruins of sugar plantations. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the island of Marie-Galante was split into sugar plantations by the French. One will find several relics of the plantation in the island. Tourists can view the residuals of a windmill and explore the plantation home. Do stop over at the Carbet Falls, housed on Basse-Terre. It is a series of three incredible waterfalls perched in the foothills of La Grande Soufriere.
If you're a diver you would love to go scuba diving along Guadeloupe's west coast. The tiny fishing village of Anse Duche is home to a sunken shipwreck named L'Augustin to explore and there are numerous sites fringing the Pigeon Islets, which form part of the Reserve Cousteau. The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve, a protected marine reserve in the north, also talks about numerous huge coral reefs.
No trip to Gualdeloupe is complete without heading over to the colonial capital. Pointe-a-Pitre is the commercial capital of Gualdeloupe and is renowned for its colourful and vibrant buildings, busy markets and vivacious residents. Don't forget to view the Place de la Victoire where over 850 people were beheaded by guillotine during the French Revolution. Those who are nature lovers can hike the National Park of Guadeloupe. It is home to some 300km (188 miles) or marked trails, most of which are situated in the rainforest. The extraordinary jungle houses over 100 species of orchids, 11 species of bats and numerous rare species of birds.
When it comes to shopping, do lookout for souvenirs and local handicrafts, spices, flowers, perfumes, jewellery and cosmetics. As for cuisine, do indulge in local cuisine such as Cabri ( goat, used in various dishes) and Blaff (seafood cooked in a seasoned soup).
The stay options in Gualdeloupe are abundant with the best luxury hotels, cheap accommodations and rental apartments available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for based on their budget and taste.
Gualdeloupe experiences tropical climate tempered by maritime influences and the Trade Winds. The best time to visit would be December to May, when the weather remains warm and dry.