Many times we sailed past the main island of Guadeloupe and only stopped for a quick stay in Deshaies, and then we’d be off to Ilses Des Saintes, the archipelago just to the south. Deshaies is a pretty town on the northwest coast which every cruiser loves because of its nice protected harbor.
The botanical garden should never be missed. The walk from town to the gardens offers a wonderful view and the cooling tree lined road makes the climb somewhat enjoyable.
This year we set out to give Guadeloupe a harder look and were pleasantly surprised by the industry, commerce, and flourishing agricultural business in addition to lovely beaches and lush tropical mountains.
Guadeloupe is shaped like a butterfly and Pointe A Pitre is the city where the two wings come together. We chose Pointe A Pitre as our home base for a few weeks because it has a lovely safe marina where we could leave Corcovado, while we explored by car. Marina Bas-du-fort could have become our home base permanently with its convenient restaurants, and easy access to the best stores in the islands. The people are friendly and the work ethic inspiring. This is the Caribbean, so work ethic and inspiring are seldom used the same sentence.
I’m sure marina living would get to me after awhile. The breezes close to shore are hardly noticeable and how would I sleep without the waves splashing the hull. So, we stayed for a week, rented a car to tour with and took advantage of the French way of life.
The flat eastern wing of the island is known for its beaches.
We enjoyed the spice markets and food stalls that line them with colorful awnings and the buzz of French.
The young lady with her portable coffee shop in a basket was delightful. She carried a two level basket. The bottom held cups, sugar and milk. The top held hot crepes of chocolate or cinnamon. A pump coffee thermos she swung by its handle. How delicious is that when you find her on a morning beach walk.
The city of Pointe A Pitre has overpasses, four lane highways and an automile just like a big city in the US. A huge shipyard with containers loading and unloading worked until all hours of the night . These are all things that we never see in the Caribbean. We were shocked and excited by the energy they created.
The Western wing of the island is totally different. It has high mountains with rain forest and waterfalls.
Sugarcane fields in vast numbers support the still thriving rum industry.
The coastline drops off suddenly with no room for beaches so dive shops and fishing keep this part of the country thriving.
We enjoyed our weeks exploring this island, though we will always think of Isles Des Saintes when we hear Guadeloupe.