What am I doing? That was the question I asked myself on the plane to the island of Guadeloupe! Traveling alone to an unknown place was an experience I had never had before. My life partner was traveling to the other side of the world, my friends and family were not available for that week, so it was with my backpack that I went on an adventure alone.
Just a five-hour flight from Montreal, I wanted to try the experience on an island that I just knew by name, and no one there who could show me the area. A mix feeling of excitement and doubts. Is it dangerous for a lonely girl? Am I going to be bored? Will I like my experience? Only one way to find out is to try it and I will have my own opinion.
Here are the comments that I could read / receive / see before flying to Gwada (name to designate Guadeloupe): Do not go in January, there are too many people, everyone is busy, and the prices are more expensive – It’s better to go there from March – Rent a car to get around otherwise it’s impossible – It’s dangerous for a girl alone
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to listen to this advice/comment, but I didn’t think it was good enough to stop me. So, here are my solutions and how I lived my 5-day adventure.
Accommodation in Guadeloupe
There is everything and several choices of accommodation in Guadeloupe, from the smallest budgets to the biggest such as all-inclusive hotels. Wi-Fi was essential for me because I had to work a few hours from my laptop and luckily, I had no connection problems.
I went with the Airbnb option, but I didn’t want to take a studio or apartment alone, so I took a room in an apartment to live with another person and learn more on the locals. I have not regretted it at all, this is really how I met very interesting people with whom to discuss and exchange. I lived with an extraordinary hostess, she made me discover her way of life, her daily life, her friends, she gave me advice and recommendations. She was very helpful, picking me up and bringing me to the airport. Anyway, I don’t know if I was lucky but I couldn’t ask for anything better. It cost me 300$ CAD for 4 nights.
Otherwise there are hostels where you can do some group activities, such as surfing, yoga on the beach and many others. I have not tried them, but I am sure that it can also be very interesting to meet people and stay active.
For the biggest budget I have heard a lot about Club Med La Caravelle which has taking over one of the most beautiful beaches in Guadeloupe, the Caravelle beach. It is an all-inclusive hotel, flights, transfers, accommodation, meals, services, entertainment, an ideal experience especially for families.
Where to stay in Gwada
My Airbnb was in Le Gosier, on Grande Terre. The island has two sides, one called Grande Terre to the east of the “butterfly”, the shape of the island, and the other called Basse Terre to the west. I saw that it was more practical to move on Grande Terre than on Basse Terre and it was also the side where the international airport of Point-à-Pitre is located. It seems, because I have not seen much of Basse Terre to compare, that Grande Terre is the side with more beaches while Basse Terre is more tropical with more greenery. It is in this part that the Soufriere volcano is located, surrounded by forests and waterfalls. A paradise for hikers and nature lovers. If I had had more time during my stay, I would have climbed it and hiked all around. Basse Terre is also known for these beautiful beaches with the particularity of having black sand or pebbles.
On Grande Terre from Point-à-Pitre, Gosier, Sainte-Anne and up to Saint-François in the south-east of the island, these places are easier to access and are full of magnificent white sand beaches and turquoise water. It is according to its places that I took my Airbnb.
Depending on what you prefer to do, you have the choice between staying in Basse Terre or Grande Terre but do not hesitate to visit both sides if you have more than 5 days!
How to move alone and without a car in Guadeloupe?
Yes, it would be better to rent a car during your stay, but it is not impossible to stay there for 5 days as I did without a car.
There are buses that often run on the southeast coast of the island. I had seen that the buses in Guadeloupe were not reliable, but the days when I took it in the morning or in the afternoon I only waited between 10 and 20 minutes. I am waiting longer for the bus in Montreal than in Guadeloupe, I am especially talking about the 37 line (if the Société de Transport de Montréal reads me, please put more buses on line 37. Thank you!)
In any case, I had no problem taking the bus from Pointe-à-Pitre to Saint François on the N4 road. The cost is between € 1.80 and € 2.50. This is how I met people by chance, at bus stops, looking for my way. Generous people who were willing to help me or accompany me, with whom I still keep in touch.
It happened to me once a van car with several passengers passed by the bus stop and asked us where we were going. This public transportation helps people if the bus won’t come or if it will take a long time to come. I took it because the passengers were also going in the same direction, it dropped me off at the stop I requested, and it cost me € 3 instead of € 1.80. Really practical and faster.
I did not take it, but I saw that from Point-à-Pitre to Gosier where I was located it could cost 30 € and the same for the other places where I wanted to go it was always from 30 €. It is quite expensive to take a taxi, so I recommend taking the bus when you can.
What to do alone in Guadeloupe
As I stayed on Grande Terre, I visited many beaches, markets, I tasted and smelled different flavors, it was exactly what I was looking for 5 days while it was snowing in Montreal in January 😊
The popular Datcha beach in Gosier, at the discreet St Félix beach, the tiny Anse Vinaigri beach, the touristy Sainte-Anne beach, passing by Caravelle beach and their Club Med residents to finish at the Raisins clairs beach in Saint-François. It was on these beautiful beaches that I was able to relax, sunbathe, read a book, swim, snorkel. There are of course other beaches as beautiful, but you would need a car. The food was excellent, the local specialties that I could taste were the cod accras and Colombo chicken. Obviously, I brought back with me the rum from Guadeloupe!
I also visited the economic capital of Gwada, Pointe-à-Pitre, animated by its markets, its preparations for the carnival, its old buildings of the colonial empire, no beach but a harbour, a city of art and of history very pleasant to visit even if it does not seem very attractive at first sight.
Excursions: another option when you do not have a car would be the excursions, such as paddling in the mangroves, visiting the Soufriere volcano (go there when the sky is clear and sunny) and request transfer from your address or a narby hotel for a driver to pick you up, it would cost extra.
After spending these few days in Guadeloupe, I can say that I do not regret this adventure alone at all since in the end I was never really alone. I was stubborn enough to turn these uncomfortable / negative comments into a truly positive experience, it went far beyond my expectations. Being reserved and not very sociable, I left my comfort zone and learned a lot about myself and about another culture.
Would you be ready to take on this challenge of traveling alone? Have you already done so? 😊