Guadeloupe & Dominica

Guadeloupe to Dominica

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Going south from Antigua the islands from Guadeloupe to Dominica take you on another fascinating tour. First stop is Guadeloupe, the main island in the French West Indies – a chance to discover a unique blend of France and the tropics in an unspoiled and beautiful setting.  Shaped like the wings of a butterfly, Guadeloupe is actually two islands separated by the River Sallee, shallow, narrow and slow-moving. Basse Terre the western wing is a mountainous, forested island with stunning waterfalls and rain forest walks. Grande Terre, the eastern side is the smaller and a countryside of rolling hills with sugar cane and picturesque ruined windmills. It is also the more developed and home of the capital, Pointe-a-Pitre.  The island is an overseas Department of France and in common with other islands in the French West Indies enjoys a higher standard of living compared to the rest of the Caribbean. The inhabitants are a fusion of African, European and Indian and they speak French and Creole.

Guadeloupe’s Creole food specialities combine French cuisine with the spices of Africa and the exoticism of East Indian and Southeast Asian. Local fruit and vegetables feature prominently, as well as the daily catch from the sea. Other specialties include shellfish, smoked fish, accras – fritters made with cod or vegetables, stuffed land crabs, stewed conch, and Colombo – curry dishes made with chicken, goat and other meat. Guadeloupe is also famous for its rum. Try the ti punch with Rhum Agricole, sugarcane syrup and fresh lime.

It’s a good idea to start your charter in Antigua. Depart early afternoon and arrive Deshaies, at the northern tip of Guadeloupe just in time for sundowners. The picturesque village of Deshaies lies in a deep, well protected bay surrounded by hills and mountains. Attractions include a tropical river walk, botanical garden, small shops and restaurants.

Guadeloupe is famous for the Reserve Cousteau at Pigeon Island. The marine park is teaming with fish and coral reefs and there are sunken ships to explore and if you like diving do make a special effort to visit as this is an excellent underwater site.

In the mountains of Basse Terre, the National Park of Guadeloupe provides many marked trails through the tropical rain forest. Hikes include the Chutes du Carbet the highest waterfalls in the Caribbean. On a beautiful clear day, experienced hikers might also like to climb La Soufriere, the island’s highest peak. It’s a three-hour trek to the still active crater of the volcano. But for those seeking just the experience of walking through the forest and its lush tropical vegetation, there are much easier walks.

For sightseeing, Point-a-Pitre is well worth a visit. From the daily water-front market,  explore the city on foot to admire the ornate gingerbread – decorative roof trims – and wrought-iron balconies.

A few miles south, les Iles des Saintes is an irresistible group of islands, more French than the French themselves with mountains climbing to 1,000ft and numerous white sand beaches. The crystal-clear waters with abundent and colourful marine life offers superb snorkeling opportunities. Going ashore, the main town is Bourg des Saintes facing a beautiful and sheltered bay. Everything here is clean and beautiful – Creole buildings with gingerbread decorations and colourful shutters. Take a gentle stroll through this town of small galleries, cafés and boutique souvenirs shops. Walk up to Fort Napoleon for the fabulous view across the harbour or up to Le Chameau the island’s highest point. Or hire a scooter and explore further afield.

Go ashore at Pain de Sucre a 200ft mini piton. It is joined to the main island by a low strip of land with exquisite beaches on both sides. You can explore the reef with snorkel and mask and there are easy dives here too in about 60ft of water. Other smaller islands in the group offer quiet anchorages and beautiful beaches.

Marie Galante lies to the east of les Saintes. This large mostly low-lying island is thickly wooded with many palm trees along the coast. It remains a mostly unspoiled, quiet haven and is the ideal place to unwind. Take quiet walks and enjoy a beaches with hardly another person in sight.

Then Dominica, an awe-inspiring mountain with deep valleys, dramatic gorges and waterfalls and pinnacles. This lush green island has an abundance of tropical birds, butterflies, fruit trees and brightly coloured flowers. A land tour here is a priority. The island’s capital is Portsmouth. From here you can take a trip up the Indian River in a local boat with a guide. This narrow swamp-like river is lined with twisted roots from the river-side trees, long vines and creepers. At the top of the river is restaurant with gift shops. There are also any number of mountain hikes including to the famous Trafalgar Falls.

 

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