Perfect Plages: The Best Beaches of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an intriguing French Caribbean island that has become increasingly popular with U.S. tourists in recent years thanks to some extremely affordable airfares from the Northeast. An archipelago comprised of five islands -- Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, and La Desirade -- Guadeloupe is easily explored by ferry or private boat, and each island reveals its own unique character and natural beauty.
The original name for Guadeloupe is Karukera, meaning land of beautiful waters, and across this archipelago you'll find more 270 ocean and lagoon beaches, all of them public, and nearly all of them spectacular. Here are some picks for the best beaches on the five main islands of Guadeloupe.
Plage de la Perle, Deshaies, Basse-Terre
This stretch of blond sand beach in Deshaies, Basse-Terre is protected by a coral reef, but sometimes the waves can be a bit strong. Also known as Pearl Beach, it is a favorite of families and offers a selection of small local restaurants known as “lolos” on the beach. The Hotel Fort Royal is nearby.
Plage Malendure, Bouillante, Basse-Terre
This volcanic black-sand beach also serves as a launch site for dive outings due to its proximity to the Cousteau Reserve and Pigeon Islands. The beach itself is also very popular with snorkelers. End your beach day at Le Rocher de Malendure, a fine restaurant overlooking the volcanic sands, or seek simpler refreshment at the handful of beach shacks.
Grande-Anse Beach, Deshaies, Basse-Terre
The largest beach in Guadeloupe is also one if the most famous, known for its golden sands, tall palms, mountain backdrop, and spectacular sunsets. The waves at this mostly undeveloped Basse-Terre beach can be rough, so non-swimmers are advised to be careful. Point de Vue de Gadet overlooks the beach.
Bois Jolan Beach, Sainte-Anne, Grande-Terre
This Grande-Terre beauty, dotted with palm trees, is close to town but minimally developed. Families love to bring children here because of the shallow water depth, and Bois Jolan is also popular with kite surfers. Guadeloupean traditionally camp on the beach at Easter, and this is one of the most popular campsites, and the usually tranquil beach can get somewhat more crowded on weekends.
Datcha Beach, Gosier, Grand-Terre
This pristine, white sand beach, located in Gosier on the island of Grande-Terre, offers a stunning view of Gosier Island and the mountains of the nearby island of Basse-Terre. Ilet Gosier, marked by a red and white lighthouse, is a popular dive destination, and visitors to Datcha Beach can swim, kayak, or boat out to the island. There are also two restaurants on the beach offering French Creole dining.
Plage Anse Petite Riviere, La Desirade
Named for a small river nearby, this beach on the east end of La Desirade is protected by a coral reef. It's uncrowded (much like the rest of the island where it resides), has calm waters, and is a good spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Vieux Fort Beach, Marie-Galante
On the island of Marie-Galante, this beautiful, unspoiled stretch of white sand has turquoise waters and its secluded areas make it a popular beach for lovers. There is a picnic area but no restaurant on site; it is quite close to a mangrove area that's a destination for kayak tours.
Petite Anse du Pain de Sucre, Terre-de-Haut
This small beach in Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes has clear emerald waters and is great for snorkeling. A secret stop for sailors as they sail across the Caribbean, the beach is more easily accessible by sea than land owing to the steep path down to the water's edge. Petite Anse du Pain de Sucre is reminiscent of the secluded beaches in the South of France, and topless sunbathing is common here. The beach is named for the island's famous "sugar loaf" mountain.
Toubana Beach Party, Basse-Terre
An honorable mention/shout out must go to Basse-Terre's La Toubana Hotel, which hosts (on a semi-monthly basis) the hottest beach party in Guadeloupe. Dubbed Toubana on the Beach, the fête draws thousands to the shore of Anse Accul to dance to a unique mix of Caribean, electronica, hip-hop, and R&B music.