With its easy blend of French and Caribbean culture, Guadeloupe offers a charming, homegrown feel—think restaurants no fussier than somebody’s back porch and sunset markets where men chop fruits with machetes while ladies sell homemade rum punch. It’s made all the more delightful by the array of beaches that fan about the little cluster of interconnected islands like petals, each a different shade of blue. Here are five of the best beaches, all but one to be found on Grand Terre, Guadeloupe’s northern and most populous island…
This is the picture-perfect Caribbean beach, with a calm lagoon of turquoise-tinged water that is both fresh and balmy, and dotted with palm trees arching around the sand in perfect semi-circles. Wander back behind the sand to find a strip of shacks serving lobster, shrimp, and fish, where French vacationers pile into the bright plastic chairs for a feast.
The little surf beach that stole my heart. On Grand Terre’s north shore, this tiny crescent stretch boasts crystalline water, playfully scattered palms and flowers, a healthy breeze, and frothy, rolling surf. The crests of each wave are dotted with handsome French and Caribbean surfers, laughing as they loll back to the beach.
Pointe des Chateaux
We arrived to the eastern tip of Grand Terre chased by ominous storm clouds. Under the looming gaze of a distant cross atop a church on a hill, we watched giant, flashing topaz waves crash into the raw and rugged rocks, feeling like we were at the end of the world.
After wandering onto—and swiftly off of—a Club Med resort beach on our last day, this wild and breezy beach was a breath of fresh air. We bought bowls of Creole curry from a lone man selling it by the plateful from the back of his car, and wandered in between giant palm trees to the unkempt shallow pools water flowing out in to the sea, dotted with seaweed and foliage. We lay in these pools all day, propped on our elbows, gazing up into the sun.
Cascade au Paradis
Okay, this one isn’t technically a beach, but the little watering hole—aptly named Paradise Waterfall—is a fabulous place to swim, and a twenty minute downhill hike into the rainforest on Guadeloupe’s southern volcanic island, Basse-Terre. Teenagers back-flip off a small rocky ledge, tumbling into the cold, clean water, and it’s clear enough to see the rocks at the bottom of the pool, far down below. We happily whiled away a Sunday afternoon here.
-by Erum Naqvi