As a French territory just north of Martinique, you won't find many glamorous resorts here -- instead, you'll experience the island by way of small local inns and mouthwatering Creole cuisine. And with sugar and rum plantations, secluded beaches, modern cities, tropical rain forests, and a 4,723-foot tall volcano splattered with banana trees, you might just want to kiss your mainland home goodbye and set up shop here.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
4 1/2 hours from NYC
When To Go: Guadeloupe at its best
Summer temps usually stay in the low 80s, and in the winter, temps stay within the mid 70s. The rainiest months are June to October, and the driest are February to April -- also the peak tourist season. Note: Try to avoid the July to November hurricane season.
What To Do
Go to the park:
Guadeloupe Mountains National Park offers some of the most stunning natural wonders on the island. There, you can hike to see Deux Mamelles
, two summits located deep into the jungle; and the Carbet Waterfall. Another attraction: Located in the middle of Basse-Terra is Parc Naturel de Guadeloupe (a tropical forest), brimming with orchids.
If you have the time, jet over to one of Guadeloupe's offshore remote islands such as Iles des Saintes -- a collection of eight small islands -- or Marie-Galante. Most of the locals on Marie-Galante make their living on sugar and rum. Check out the Distillerie Bielle for a tour and to sample some of the best rum in the Caribbean.
See the volcano:
Drive to La Soufriere, and climb to the mouth of the volcano. Although the volcano is presumed dormant, it still smokes from time to time and the locals keep an eye on the sulfurous mound. If the volcano intrigues you, make a reservation at the Observatoire Volcanologique le Houelmont to take a tour of the laboratory where French government geologists and volcanologists are busy collecting data and observing the large island volcano.
-- Anja Winikka