Guadeloupe is like France but under the tropical sun. Although the climate, landscapes and atmospheres are very exotic, as far as the rest is concerned, you are in France. Nevertheless, because we live here, here are some useful recommendations so you can be guaranteed that you will only go home with your good memories.
Guadeloupe, also originally called Karukera, "the island with the beautiful waters" has been a French overseas department since 1946. As such, the 450,000 inhabitants are French. Besides Creole which is the local dialect (patois) , French is the common language.
The prefecture of Guadeloupe is the community of Basse-Terre. Nonetheless, Pointe à Pitre has become the economic capital of island. The airport of Raizet is nearby and is ideally situated on the island because it is almost perfectly central.
To enter the territory
For all French citizens in possession of a National Identity Card or a valid passport there are no othr formalities to stay in Guadeloupe. All under-aged children, must own a National Identity Card or appear on their parents' passport (until they are 14 years of age).
There is 5 hours difference in the winter and 6 hours less in the summer compared to metropolitan France.
The currency used locally is the euro. Most of the banks in metropolitan France are also present in Guadeloupe. We recommend you have a payment card as money withdrawals at bank desks with a check book are sometimes limited (we recommend you inquire before leaving) and checks are systematically refused. Many cash dispensers are available and traditional payment cards are accepted everywhere.
Hygiene and health
Hygienic conditions are comparable to those in France. Many doctors, pharmacists and a large hospital ensure optimum sanitary coverage.
No specific vaccination is required. Nonetheless, we recommend you take some precautions :
- Avoid insect bites and take anti-mosquito cream, particularly for children. Some places don't have mosquitos but others, depending on the season can be invaded by them. We recommend you turn on the air-conditioning in the bedroom for a while before you sleep because by dropping the temperature mosquitos get sluggish and become harmles. Otherwise, so as not to be disturbed during the night, use a mosquito net.
- Avoid being exposed for too long to the sun, especially at the hottest times between 11 am and 3 pm. Remember to take cream with high SPFs for the first days and aftersun cream. Don't forget to wear hats, caps and sunglasses for all the family.
This advice is particularly important for small children who are very vulnerable, for whom we recommend the use of colored creams to ensure they are correctly protected.
If you get sunburned, we recommend using biafine cream, sold in pharmacies, which calms burning sensations and helps the skin reconstruct its natural defences.
- we recommend you use straws to drink from cans or bottles and to wash the skin on fruit before eating them, especially coconuts.
- You can drink water from the tap. All the same, for the more sensitive whose stomachs are sensitive from the change of diet, we recommend you drink bottled-water. The water in rivers, although it may look clear and non-polluted, is not drinking water.
- You must avoid bathing in the swamp areas and in the puddles of hot water from the Carbet chutes where the heat maintains the bacteriological microcosm. To fully appreciate the hot water sources in the best conditions, visit the thermal station of Ravine Chaude at the Lamentin.
- Avoid walking bare-foot anywhere else than on the beach and use a straw mat or towel to lie on the sand.
Some places are not suitable for swimming and it is best to inquire beforehand. Avoid swimming before a big meal and be careful to enter the water progressively after being exposed to the sun for a long time.
Avoid contact with coral snakes, sea urchins and the odd jellyfish.
The local dialling code is 0590. To call metroploitan France, you just need to dial the number without a prefix. There are many phone booths available. You can use France Telecom phone cards or cards from local phone companies that are often cheaper for ringing metropolitan France.
Here, like anywhere else, it is best to take precautions. Aids, hepatitis B, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases can be avoided by systematically using condoms.
In the West Indies, we are particularly against drugs. In Guadeloupe like in metropolitan France, possessing and using drugs is considered an offense.
For other drugs, curbing is strong and prisons here are no more welcoming than anywhere else. Remember : the consumpation of drugs is absolutely incompatible with the driving a vehicle and can induce risky sexual behaviour.
Off the beach, out of respect for the general public, you are required to dress decently although you can dress casually. Take summer clothes : shorts, bermudas, tee-shirts, hats or caps, and open shoes. Also bring a light pull-over or a sweat-shirt for winter evenings, a rain coat and walking shoes for hiking. Avoid synthetic underwear.
There are many groceries and many supermarkets names such as Champion, Carrefour or Leader Price. Prices are on average 20% more expensive than those in metropolitan France. This extra cost affects mainly imported products which come from metropolitan France. By learning to recognize the scarce local produce or by changing your eating habits, you can save money.
On the market, prices can sometimes be cheaper.
For restaurants, please refer to the "Restaurants" page of the "Eating" column of the guide.
In Guadeloupe we drive on the right. Don't forget to bring your drivers' license. For more information, please refer to the "Transportation" page of the "Practical" column of the guide.
You are no more in danger in Guadeloupe than in metropolitan France. It is best to have a careful attitude which means watching your personal objects closely, not taking too much money with you, avoiding any pretentious demonstration, not leaving any objects in sight in your car… just normal precautions which are just common sense. When night falls it is best to avoid the centers of Basse-Terre and Pointe à Pitre. Elsewhere, there are no risks at night except for young women who must avoid travelling alone and avoid wearing outfits that are too sexy or provocative.
Do not forget
Do not forget your camera to immortalize your best memories. Always remember to ask permission before taking a photo of someone, just out of politeness.
Remember to take any documents or certificates which you may be asked for to justify your level of diving.
Bring your boat permit if you wish to drive a jet ski without an instructor or hire a boat.