The overseas French Caribbean region of Guadeloupe is an archipelago in the Lesser Antilles consisting of 630 square miles on two main islands. It is part of the French Antilles group that includes the islands of Sainte-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin further to the south. Guadeloupe’s main islands are shaped like the wings of a butterfly from above, that are connected by a couple of bridges and there is also an excellent ferry service that links to the smaller nearby islands of Les Saintes, Marie-Galante and Terre-de-Haut among others, which make for perfect day trips!
The terrain here is mostly hilly with lush tropical forests and an active volcano named La Soufriere that last erupted in 1977 and is the highest peak in the eastern Caribbean sea at 4815 feet. You’ll also find beaches of white, gold and black sand depending on where you are, fields of sugarcane, and several banana plantations as you explore these beautiful islands. The airport is about 3 miles north of the capital city of Pointe-A-Pitre, that is Guadeloupe’s economic center and an active port. Most visitors make a beeline for the west coast of Basse-Terre to enjoy its many attractions and then venture out from there.
The diving here is amazing and Jacques Cousteau once said that the Pigeon Islands site, near Bouillante was the nicest diving he had ever seen! The best way to experience the ‘Cousteau Reserve’ is to join a boat dive tour with one of the several great diving services nearby. Other spectacular sites include the more challenging Sec Pate area, an underwater mountain which can be accessed by boat a couple of times a week depending on the current and seat availability.
Lionfish were first observed around Guadeloupe in 2009 and several of the island’s dive centers are making an effort to control the invasion themselves. When asked about lionfish hunting rules and regulations, Laurence at ‘La Dive Bouteille’ tells us that “visitors can hunt lionfish but only while free diving”. Eric at ‘Nautica Plongee Caraibes’ agrees and adds .. “our customers are not allowed to hunt them on scuba. Permission is only given to a few people on the island, most of whom are instructors”. Nicolas at Les Heures Saines says, “the official hunters sell to restaurants”, but then another dive center tells us “we have to let them go under water to try to attract predators”. A little confusing so I would certainly check with the service you plan to go with prior to booking a trip. It seems that bringing your own polespear is okay but I would not recommend that you have a spear ‘gun’ in your checked luggage as the rules are a little vague on this. I would definitely ask the people you plan to dive with first!
I could not find any reports of lionfish trapping here and as far as a commercial fishery for them goes, it looks like some restaurants serve it on occasion when they can get it, so you would have to ask.
Here are some of the dive centers in Guadeloupe to get you started. Of course, there are others and they all reportedly offer expert guiding and friendly service!
La Rand’eau in Bouillante
+590 690 57 06 05
Galette Malendure, 97125 Bouillante
Tropical Sub Diving in Deshaies
+590 590 28 52 67
Boulevard des Poissoniers, Deshaies
Les Heures Saines, in Bouillante
(‘the healthy hours’)
+1 590 590 98 86 63
Nautica Plongee Caraibes in Deshaies
(Nautica Diving Caribbean)
+1 590 590 99 90 47
La Dive Bouteille in Des Saintes
+33 690 59 80 91, mobile 0690 498 091
Plunger Pisquettes on the island
+1 590 590 99 88 80 Terre-de-Haut
The local authority in Guadeloupe is called ‘Direction de L’environnement, de L’amenagement et du logement de la Guadalupe’ (DEAL)
Saint-Phy, B.P. 54,97102 Basse-Terre 0590 99 43 73
firstname.lastname@example.org which is ‘Car-Spaw-Rac’ … the Regional Activity Centre for the Wider Caribbean Region.
Guadeloupe is a bit of a hidden secret in the Caribbean that is mostly visited by the French. Few Americans visit here as it is often confused with the Mexican island of Guadalupe and while tourism is important to these islands, it hasn’t taken away any of its charm! The people are very hospitable and welcoming and they could really use your support once things get back to some sort of normal, so please shop local as much as you can! The culture is very rich with an interesting and somewhat tragic history but today you will find a proud and happy population living here! The food is fantastic and the rum is good if that is your pleasure. It helps to speak French or at least understand a little and it is recommended that you arrive with euros in your pocket. Renting a car is also a good idea as cabs are few and the islands are large.
Enjoy your adventure to Guadeloupe and please share your stories and pics with us!
For Lionfish University,
Walt Deelman, Lionator Polespears