5 Must-Do Activities in Guadeloupe

 The Fête des Cuisinieres is an annual festival that commemorates the patron saint of cooks. Image courtesy of Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

The Fête des Cuisinieres is an annual festival that commemorates the patron saint of cooks. Image courtesy of Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

From rum and coffee tastings to landmark sights, Guadeloupe is a feast for the senses 

Guadeloupe is one of the Caribbean’s under-the-radar destinations, set between Dominica and Antigua in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. In-the-know visitors come to enjoy it’s sailing culture, quiet beaches, French Caribbean cuisine and Creole heritage. There is much more to uncover as well. What follows are five things everyone should do when visiting Guadeloupe—the “Pearl of the French Caribbean.” 

1. Attend a Cultural Festival

Guadeloupe has a colorful history, a mélange of cultures and customs. The best way to celebrate its storied past is to time your visit with a cultural festival, such as Fête des Cuisinieres.

Each August, female chefs take to the streets in festive aprons and madras headscarves in celebration of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks. They sing traditional songs, ring dinner bells and spread the love, by sharing their home cooking with newfound friends.

2. Go Rum Tasting

Guadeloupians are serious about rum, so make a point to head to one of its nine distilleries for a tasting and a tour. We chose Domaine de Bellevue on Marie Galant to sample the islands famous planteur punch, rum creme and oak barrel-aged rums. My favorite was the Coconut Punch rum, which combined the creaminess of a crème liquor (like Bailey’s Irish Crème) with the boldness of coconut. Rum tastings are offered every day and are free to visitors.

3. Try Creole Delicacies

Come hungry because the Creole food in Guadeloupe is outstanding. One of my favorite dishes, called a bokit, just tastes better when ordered from a food truck. This fried-bread sandwich includes the protein of your choice (conch, ham, grilled fish), a fried egg, tons of cheese and a spicy mayonnaise to tie all of the flavors together.

There are a lot of things you should do when you visit the scenic archipelago of Les Saintes, and trying a tourment d’amour should be one of them. The pastry— filled with coconut, guava or banana—is baked fresh daily and available at the ferry docks. Just look for women carting around large, decorative baskets. 

No trip to Guadeloupe would be complete without sampling the region’s signature appetizer, cod fritters with homemade dog sauce. Most restaurants will serve a version of this garlicy, fried dish, and it’s perfect for sharing with friends (who don’t mind if your breath stinks afterward). You can find the recipe and a how-to video here.

4. Visit a Coffee Plantation

Not a lot of people know that Guadeloupe is the oldest coffee-growing region in the Americas—its roots tracing back to 1726, when the first Arabica Typica coffee seeds were introduced. At Habitation La Grivelière, coffee is painstakingly made the traditional way, which will give you a new appreciation for each and every cup.

5. Photograph Pointe des Chateaux

The Atlantic Ocean collides with the Caribbean Sea at Pointe des Chateaux, and you’re going to want to bring your camera to capture its rugged beauty. These are the same sights that drew in Christopher Columbus in 1493, and now it’s your turn to discover them.

 Pointe des Chateaux gets its name from the castle-like rock formations that dot its coast. Image courtesy of the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

Pointe des Chateaux gets its name from the castle-like rock formations that dot its coast. Image courtesy of the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

My trip to Guadeloupe was made possible by Atout France. Views expressed are my own.