Exploring Guadeloupe by Yacht
With the heating turned up and the curtains closed tight against the driving rain, thoughts can easily turn to escaping it all and soaking up the sun on some island paradise. With sun drenched beaches, turquoise sea and an abundance of marine life to discover, the Caribbean has it all. We decided to explore the French island of Guadeloupe on our own private yacht.
Positioned south of Antigua and north of Dominica, it is part of the Leeward Islands. When you look on a map, the main islands resemble a butterfly, and although are often referred to as a single island are in fact two. Basse-Terre to the west, and Grande-Terre to the east. They are separated by the Salee’ River, but connected by bridges. Guadeloupe also includes the smaller islands of Marie-Galante, La Desirade and the Iles des Saintes, so there is plenty to explore.
As there are no direct flights from the UK to Guadeloupe, we chose to start our yacht charter from Antigua. With direct daily flights of less than eight hours it was by far the easiest choice for us. Alternatively, you can fly from the UK to Paris and catch a connecting direct fight to Guadeloupe.
Leaving Jolly Harbour, we arrived at Deshaies, north east of Guadeloupe, in less than three and a half hours. Deshaies makes an ideal stop as you can clear customs easily with the welcoming blinking eye of a computer terminal, which is every cruisers dream. Ten minutes and two euros later, we were all done. With a hammock and several other souvenirs later, yes, I think these terminals are strategically placed (!) we went to have a wander round. With a range of shops to explore and a variety of restaurants to choose from, we settled on a bustling restaurant overlooking the bay. Trying to be adventurous we both ordered Ti Punch, a poplar local aperitif. Wow, it was too strong for us! After a delicious lunch of fresh fish and steak, we returned to our vessel for a siesta. With the afternoon spent swimming and snorkeling we settled for a relaxing BBQ aboard our yacht for the night.
Catherine’s Bar, aka Death in Paradise, Deshaies.
Raising the anchor after breakfast we headed south, anchoring just off the mainland at Malendure Beach, opposite Pigeon Island. Relaxing on the fore deck you can hardly miss the number of turtles surfacing the water in the bay. Donning our snorkels, in we went. I don’t think that I have ever swum where there have been so many turtles, it was amazing.
We waited until later in the afternoon before taking the dingy across to Pigeon Island, as it can become very popular with the dive boats and snorkelers. With everyone gone, we had the place to ourselves After tying our dingy to one of the many buoys provided, do not drop your anchor here, we entered the Coral Garden, which is two tiny islets and part of the Guadeloupe National Park. We were amazed by how clear the water was and disappearing beneath the water you enter a truly different world. With a unique concentration of marine life, you will be rewarded with an array of colourful reef fish. It is one of the best places to snorkel in Guadeloupe.
Pleasantly exhausted from a day of swimming and snorkeling, dining aboard was agreeable by all.
Catch up on my next blog to see where we travel to next…
By Laura Barber