The French-governed islands of Guadeloupe are equal parts rugged and refined, mixed together by a little Parisian flair. This archipelago in the Lesser Antilles has recently become de rigueur for couples and honeymooners alike looking to enjoy the outdoors-with unspoiled, sandy beaches and tropical rainforests full of trails. Rich in diverse history, the overseas territory is also known for colonial architecture, lively festivals, and West Indian cuisine. Think: local ingredients transformed by French technique. Here's why we seriously think it's worth considering for your honeymoon or your next couples getaway:
What To Do
Point-Г -Pitre is home to lively markets like MarchГ© Couvert where you can buy local handicrafts, coffee, and spices and MarchГ© de la Darse, a market on the pier where vendors hawk tropical fruits and vegetables and fisherman sell their daily catch. The real draw in Guadeloupe is nature. Guadeloupe National Park on Basse-Terre is a lush tropical rainforest that spans more than 74,000 acres, full of winding hiking trails that'll bring you to impressive sites like hot springs, the Carbet Falls, and the summit of La SoufriГЁre volcano. The islands also have some of the best dive sites in the region-good enough for famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. Scuba or snorkel in the marine reserve that bears his name.
It's the Caribbean, so beautiful beaches full of white, gold, and even pink sand, plus bright blue water are a guarantee. Grande-Anse Beach on Basse-Terre and Datcha Beach in Gosier on Grand-Terre are two of the most popular. For a more romantic feel, plan to stay or visit Terre-de-Haut and Les Saintes-a cluster of eight tiny islands on the southern coast. The remote and less-inhabited islands are good for either a day trip or a longer stay.
Where To Stay
Disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with your honey and nature at the Tendacayou Ecolodge & Spa. It's in the tropical forest of Morne Bois d'Inde on Basse-Terre and is phone- and TV-free (Don't worry, you'll quickly settle in). The five-star La Toubana HГґtel Spa on the outskirts of Sainte-Anne on Grande-Terre gets high marks for luxury and offers couples villas, bungalows, and suites all surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. The resort has a private beach and a mountain-top infinity pool where you'll spend a majority of your time, and a spa that offers a Ayurvedic massage amongst many other body-nourishing services. Les Petits Saints is also great for couples and honeymooners looking to stay on Terre-de-Haut. It's home to an upscale French restaurant where you can dine al fresco overlooking the bay.
Where To Eat
In Guadeloupe, you'll get Creole, Caribbean, and French classics. Ti Kaz' La is also on Terre-de-Haut in Les Saints and is one of the top restaurants in the country. The contemporary waterfront restaurant showcases fresh-from-the-pier fish dishes. Le Gran Bleu at La Toubana in Sainte-Anne is known for Caribbean-French cuisine. The restaurant is poolside overlooking the sea and serves up fresh lobster plucked from an on-site pond and traditional Creole fare. Le Zawag at La CrГ©ole Beach Hotel in Le Gosier puts a modern spin on French and Creole classics. Don't leave the islands without sampling local delicacies like bokit, sorbet coco-and especially tourment d'amour, a tart-like dessert that's name translates to the вЂњagony of love.вЂќ
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How To Get There
They say the best things aren't easy. Such is the case with getting to Guadeloupe, which as of this year, became a little more difficult to get to when Norwegian abandoned direct service from New York to Pointe-Г -Pitre. American Airlines still flies nonstop from Miami, though, and with the plethora of flights going in and out of the 305 each day, you shouldn't have too long of a layover. Our advice: Fly into PTP and rent a car at the airport to explore Grand-Terre and Basse-Terre. Ferries run from Point-Г -Pitre to the other three islands, Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La DГ©sirade, too.