24 hours in Guadeloupe

Located just to the north of Martinique, Guadeloupe is an archipelago made up of seven islands famed for their vibrant festive spirit, but also its extremely mild climate tempered by trade winds.

Looking to the markets first of all, selling essentially spices, unusual local beverages, mixed seeds in tartan bags in the guise of souvenirs and an incredible array of fruit, exuding exotic perfumes. The hustle and bustle of the market is in full swing.

Next stop, the Grand Café Plantation, offering its eclectic tours and specialising surprisingly in the cultivation of bananas. Then the rural parish of Vieux-Habitants (meaning “Old Settlers”), founded in 1636 is the oldest commune on the island. And finally savour the sun setting between the Portes d’Enfer, passing from thrilling escapades to indulgent pauses, with all the time in the world.

 9.56am local village

The village provides such an archetypical example of local architecture, it could almost be a theatre set. The most basic vernacular dwelling, known in Creole as “dé pyes kaz” - quite literally “two-room hut” - contains a bedroom and living space, which can be extended according to individual needs.

The fantasy of many an artist, with their louvered doors, awnings and balconies. Ornamental plants decorate the exterior and roadside, and tucked away behind, there is the backyard, chicken coup and vegetable patch, the hub of family life. The town houses are typical of the local architecture in Guadeloupe, in a similar style to the rural hut, with one or two floors and highly detailed.

11.43am Out to sea

Crossing the archipelago is just a stone’s throw away, with a whole host of things to see and do. For fun, motorboats are available for hire at some of the prettiest coastal resorts, for a half-day session to several days. Even the tiniest detail has been taken in to careful consideration and boats can come complete with cooler box to make it a truly magical outer sea experience!

From Saint-Francois, you can be in Petite-Terre in just 50 minutes by boat. Don’t miss the coconut-fringed, white, sandy beaches, with the more secluded spots set further back from the sea. Located 12km to the north, where the terrain becomes drier and increasingly wild, la Desirade is a wind-swept rocky island, for a much more bracing experience!

From Bas-du-Fort, sail across the Riviere-Salee and its mangroves. After picnicking on Turtle Island with its turquoise backdrop, the coral clearly comes into view beneath the sea. And last but not least, Les Saintes islands are made up of Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas. In addition, there are a further seven small, deserted islands to explore; a regular haunt for fishing enthusiasts that will certainly not disappoint.

5.12pm A relaxing pause at la Toubana

La Toubana is a peaceful coastal haven at the entrance of a fishing village, complete with swimming pool and panoramic views looking out to the relaxed Caribbean islands.

At 5pm, it’s back to the bungalow after a trip out to sea by jet-ski or a spot of big game fishing. And then it is definitely time for some well-deserved relaxation. Dotted with flowers and essential oils, and offering a massage for two to recharge one’s batteries, this is the ultimate in island relaxation, readily available at various locations, such as the Ocean Spa at the Toubana Hotel in Sainte-Anne. With four dedicated treatment rooms, including fresh sea water and sea-based mineral message therapy, a fitness suite and personal trainer at hand for fitness fanatics, this ocean paradise has everything to entice discerning gourmets in a preprandial moment.

Journey of discovery | Published on: 13 July 2012
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