s/y Nine of Cups
The Leeward Islands - Guadeloupe
2002
Return to Home Page
Return to Home Page
Guadeloupe - French Overseas Territory

Population
: ~330,000
Area:  538,000 square miles
Capital:  La Basse Terre
Major industry: “rhum” production and tourism
Official language: French (and Creole)
Currency: Euro
Political:  an overseas “department” of France
High Point: La Grande Soufrière (volcano),          
 4813' (1467m), 8th tallest peak  in the Carib

Guadeloupe also administers the islands  of St.
Martin, St. Barts, Marie Gallante and Les Saintes.
As you can see, Guadeloupe is actually
comprised of two islands in the shape
of a lopsided butterfly.  Whoever
named the islands had a sense of
humor because the higher, more
mountainous island is called Bas Terre
(low land) and the lower, smaller,
flatter island is called Grande Terre
(large land). A large river, Riviere
Salee, separates the two islands and is
navigable by shallow draft boats.It was
originally known by the Caribs as
Karukera… Island of Pretty Waters.
Deshaies (Day-hay) is an interesting little town
offering most of the basic services a cruiser might
need: Internet, bakery (boulangerie), butcher
(bucherie), grocery store (SPAR supermarche),
library (bibliotheque), auto rental (louer a
voiture), phones, pharmacie and friendly people
(personnes amicables)…even an ATM!  
The fine smells of fresh croissants and strong
coffee made it all the way out to the anchorage.
Oooh, la la. Above, a waterfront view.
To the right, the dinghy dock along the Riviere
Deshaies.
After the hike, we sampled the
local beer, Corsaire.
After a walk around town, we followed a path
along and across the river for a mini-hike.  To the
right, in constant search for the endemic anoles, I
found one in mid-molt.
About 1-1/2 km from the anchorage was a botanical garden. It was a Sunday afternoon and most
things in town were closed, so we decided to hike up the very steep hill to check out the gardens.  We
didn’t expect much in a small town so we were delighted to find that it was pretty spectacular with over
a mile of bricked pathways and several new species of flowers, trees and plants we hadn’t seen or been
able to identify previously.

We did more than smell the croissants and watch the birds.  We rented a car and drove inland the to
Guadeloupe National Park to find the Chutes du Carbet…3 sets of waterfalls approachable by well
kept trails.  We saw #2 and #3 on two separate hikes, but the access to #1 was closed. See left.
Crossing the suspension bridge along the trail  reminded
us of the "fun house" in an amusement park.
Day 2 of the car rental, we took a drive  
to Pointe a Pitre across the Route de
Traversee, which cuts directly through
the middle of the island of Bas Terre and
through the National Park.  It’s steep
and curvy with lots of switchbacks and
great views.

Pointe a Pitre is Guadeloupe’s largest
city and a  wonder to explore.  We
found it hard to get away from the
markets.  Too much to see, smell, taste
and buy.  
Point a Pitre
Locals line up buy their fish just as the fishing
boats arrive.
A fisherman carves up fish of every kind and
color and shape as we watch.
A fruit lady in traditional Guadeloupean dress
sold us some pomme d'amour (love apples).
The production of “Rhum Agricole” is a
major industry in Guadeloupe and the
rum produced is highly prized in France.
We stopped at a small rum factory for a
tour and a sample or two.  We didn't
much care for it. The cane was being
harvested and trailer truck upon trailer
truck load was seen on the highway and
along the sides of the road.
Cutting cane by hand...a common sight.
Cane ready for crushing at the rum factory.
Pain a Sucre anchorage in Iles des Saintes.
All too soon, it was time to leave
Guadeloupe, but it left us longing for
more French islands. Now we started
to worry about getting out of the area
by hurricane season. We anchored
one night off Iles des Saintes.

  
Next stop, Dominica.
Return to Island Hopping
in the Caribbean.