A few years back, we booked a Southern Caribbean cruise that included the island of Guadeloupe in the ports of call. We are guilty of booking similar cruise itineraries again and again, so we were excited that this itinerary included a port that we had not yet visited. That is until I started researching…
When I looked up “Guadeloupe” on Google, I did not find a wealth of information, at least not in English! I then searched all of the travel sites that I frequent. Not much. And when I did find information, the little bit that I stumbled upon did not seem to be very positive. I read a story of a tourist who had been pick-pocketed right off the ship and another who claimed they had been overcharged by locals. These reviews and a couple of others seemed to recommend that people just stay on the ship.
Well that was depressing. We are not stay on the ship kind of people–We are always eager to get out and onto the islands. We like to see and do and eat and enjoy all that we can until we hear that all aboard warning from the ship. After months of finding pretty much zero helpful information, we finally caved and booked an excursion through the cruise line: a beach day in Sainte-Anne. We typically prefer to book independently, but being unwilling to abstain from seeing the island and yet too nervous to venture out on our own with so little information, a ship excursion seemed to be our only option.
Well, our cruise finally arrived and so did our port day in Guadeloupe. Sailing into port was beautiful, but then that seems to be the case with any Caribbean island. I mean, you’re in the Caribbean, for goodness sake!!! 🙂
We hurriedly disembarked and walked through a nice outdoor market selling spices. We browsed through the small souvenirs and fragrant spices, and determined that even if we were disappointed by our trip to Sainte-Anne, we could at least do some spice shopping before getting back on the ship! We then met with our excursion group and shortly thereafter were loaded up on the bus to head out toward Ste Anne. Our view from the road was less than encouraging, but we worked hard to withhold judgement until we got to our destination…
Once our bus arrived in Sainte-Anne, we were dropped off and instructed to meet back in the early afternoon. We then headed toward the beach. It was a pretty beautiful little walk with Palm trees lining the perfect aquamarine water.
Once we got to the beach area, we meandered through an outdoor shopping area and then parked ourselves at a table in front of a dive shop and a little local watering hole. I wish I could remember the name of the place, but none of us were paying much attention to the details–I think we were all too awed by the beautiful views and the friendly people!
All of our husbands were too engrossed in conversation about island life and diving to leave the table, but we girls headed out to wander through the shopping area. There were all of the typical souvenirs (magnets, tee shirts, small hand-crafted goods, etc.) as well as a good variety of spices. I did not get pictures throughout the marketplace, but I did get a couple of the booth where we bought vanilla and some other wonderfully fragrant spices!
Because Guadeloupe is a French island, the vendors prefer to be paid with Euros. We did not exchange any money beforehand, but we found a vendor who was willing to exchange for us and then we worked with euros from there. We had a general idea of the exchange rate and we were treated very fairly!
Unfortunately, after what was certainly not long enough, it was already time to return to our meeting place for the bus ride back. We were all in agreement that we wished we had not booked a ship excursion with a curfew, but had rather ventured out on our own with a more flexible timetable. Oh well, lesson learned!
On our way back to the bus, we tried to soak in all of the beautiful sights along the way.
Then it was back on the bus and straight to the port. Sigh… We decided to do a bit of shopping for spices (hello, fresh nutmeg!) and then back onto the ship. As we sailed away, Guadeloupe bid us adieu with lovely views of its harbor and a striking sunset.
Tips And Lessons Learned:
- Go to Guadeloupe! I know my experience is limited to only one day at one beach (so what credit do I have in recommending the island?!?!), but it was a lovely experience and I wish I could have seen much more! I was also just reading a short article in Forbes (published after my trip, of course!) that describes Guadeloupe as a great Caribbean island to visit: Forbes article
- Euros are the currency: If you plan on spending any cash in Guadeloupe, bring euros or find somewhere to exchange your money.
- Be bold: Don’t be afraid to visit a new place just because you can’t find much info. I wish we had been a bit bolder in making our own plans and seeing more.
- Book Independently: If you are on a cruise, it is always nice to book your tours and excursions independently. This will usually be less crowded, save you a bit of money, and offer more flexibility.
- Have a great time (and please bring me along!! 😉 )
A Day in St. Croix