Things To Do In Basse Terre
Located along the West Indies, the island of Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe captivates guests with its enchanting mix of natural landscape, intimate beach paradise in the middle of the mangrove swamps, preserved wilderness, French culture, and a beguiling history.
Initially occupied by the Arawaks, and succeeded by the Caribs, the country of Guadeloupe was also colonized by the Dutch, invaded by pirates, and for a short time was governed by Great Britain. Today, the small archipelago is a dependency of France, and its culture, cuisine, customs and traditions, architecture, and language and society clearly indicates the heavy influence on this quaint island in the Caribbean. The local currency uses French Francs, and aside from relying heavily on tourism for their major revenue, the island of Basse-Terre mainly exports bananas, sugar, and rum all across America.
When To Go:
The peak travel season is from December - May, when the climate stays warm and dry. In spite of the fact that it can be visited all throughout the year, the months of August and September is highly not advisable because of the occurrence of strong ocean surges that always carry a threat of a hurricane on this monsoon season. If you don’t want to be inconvenienced with your travel plans forego of any arrangements on this time of the year. In addition, the months of June, July, October, and November's continuous showers and high mugginess can douse off even the thought of going out on its inclement rainy season. But if you are brave enough to travel amidst the rains until the end of November, there is a strong chance that you can save money on your travel deals as it is around these months when lodging and airplane rates become more affordable and budget-friendly.
Here are the things to do and the brilliant places to discover in the island of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe:
Guadeloupe National Park (Parc National de la Guadeloupe)
Officially recognized as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, the Guadeloupe National Park (Parc National de la Guadeloupe) regularly attracts more than one million guests for every year. The recreation center incorporates 300 kilometers of climbing trails, a trek along the famous volcano La Soufriere, Col de la Matéliane, and an extensive variety of greenery that conserves more than a hundred types of orchids and various species of bats. Birdwatchers will delight in the assorted selection of birds to admire on its aviary and bird migration area. Basse-Terre preserves the black woodpecker, its official resident and national bird. It also keeps and conserves other endemic bird species such as the pearl-eyed thrasher and the rare Antillean bird.
For faster accessibility, the recreation center can be easily reached through the Route de la Traversée. This beautiful beachfront interstate wind through the tropical woodland with a view of huge mahogany trees, lush vegetation and abundance of bamboo trees that looks breathtaking from one side of the park. Along this course, guests will discover observation decks, picnic groves, the cascading waterfalls in the forest, and a well-maintained resort called the Maison de la Forêt. Numerous guests additionally stop for a refreshing dip at the Cascade aux Ecrevisses, a little waterfall that flows directly into a huge lagoon. This natural complex is considered as one of the most beautiful biosphere parks in the Caribbean region. The flora and fauna is what entices tourists to go back and check out this place. The vegetation is wild and diverse, take time to stop and admire each spectacular corner. Another noteworthy feature is the built-in wooden bridges for crossing rivers leading to the falls. It is a truly spectacular place and not to be missed when in Basse – Terre. This nature reserve will surprise and delight fans and avid enthusiasts of tropical hiking!
La Soufrière Volcano
La Soufrière Volcano is the most noteworthy peak in the lesser Antilles territory. It is classified as an active volcano with a record of eight big eruptions since the year 1600s. The presence of steaming hot springs, mud pools, and fumaroles intersperse its empty and barren land. Mountain climbers can make a treacherous assault of its peak along the Chemin des Dames trail. It’s about a two-hour daytime traverse with idyllic perspectives from the steepest part of the massif, which is best admired when the weather is good and the skies are clear. The three falls of the Chutes du Carbet falls down the eastern face of the La Soufrière massif, from an imposing height of 115 meters, with observation decks allocated for every waterfall. Explorers who take after the trail to Etang As de Pique will discover one of the biggest of the mountainside lakes shaped in cavities of the volcanic massif encompassed by lavish slopes.
The Soufriere Volcano abounds with waterfalls, hot springs, beautiful canyons to discover or simply enjoy the hiking in beautiful nature. One of the best things to do when in Basses- Terre, aside from admiring its scenic landscapes is to arrange a hike and assault the summit of this famous volcano. The tour begins at the parking lot where guests are given a little seminar on what to expect in the hiking adventure. You will scale through the rainforest and look after your feet because some parts are rocky a bit slippery on the river crossing. After about 30 minutes you will arrive at the Savannah, immediately turn right at the so called “passage of the ladies” trail.
The road then becomes very narrow and only one person is allowed to pass, from here the vegetation is very dense. At the top and near the crater, a few fumes emit from here and there, keep in mind that it is forbidden to approach the edges of the volcanic crater because of the sulphur and toxic gas combination. Wear some scarf or face mask to protect yourself from the smell and fumes. Nonetheless, it has a beautiful view of the coast, a breathtaking panorama to linger for awhile especially if it’s not the rainy season.
Cascade le Saut de L'Acomat
The Cascade le Saut de L'Acomat is a gorgeous looking waterfall but quite difficult to access. This lush waterfall in a beautiful setting offers a challenging trail and a good swim but to get there you have to earn it. The trail begins with long walks to the forest where you will encounter huge trees with and the most woody (big tree roots that are quite slippery to step on) part of the jungle. You also need to cross big boulders of rock and some barbed wire areas (be sure to wear good trekking shoes) then onwards to the river to cross on slippery rocks. Avoid excursions here during rainy days or after a heavy downpour as it is most often discouraged because it is not safe. This adventure is not even advisable with young children or the elderly.
Things to look forward to; the steep descent is physically challenging and be sure you are agile and fit to take the treacherous trail which can be quite slippery when it rains. Sturdy shoes are better than sandals. Sure there are some difficulties but the trail is well sign posted and there is no way you will get lost with your co-hikers (tours are mostly conducted in groups of ten people). The descent is perilous, so extra pre-caution is further advised. And yes at the entrance there is a sign indicating the risk of catching amoeba and everyone is warned that they should not jump, dive or put their head under the water. Swimming is not allowed and if you have doubts whether you can swim or not, you can ask any locals you will meet who bathe there regularly.
To explore the Ilet Caret or the islands along Sainte Rose, it is highly advisable to engage the services of a tour operator to get near the scenic islands in Basse-Terre. The tour begins at 8:00 am and can be arranged with Marie Laure and her son Axel on board a small boat that can accommodate 12 people. They will share love for their island and its traditions. Upon arrival at the islets, a drink is served and a bit of their hospitality. For those who want to snorkel, they will take you to the barrier reef for some snorkeling activity and to discover the ocean floor and the huge variety of tropical fish.
Marie prepares a delicious meal to be enjoyed on the islet and this is included on the package tour cost. If you forget your mask and snorkel, you have an option to enjoy a good meal and friendly moments with other tourists all accompanied by the islands’ trademark rum. After a heavy meal and a few and sunbathing session towards the mangroves, Marie Laure explains in detail the birth and life of the growth of mangroves and a few touches of history about her beloved island. The whole day adventure guarantees a safe return before the day ends at 16:30 pm. Do not miss this interesting activity and the chance to meet a local of Basse –Terre who shares her love of life, humor, nature, knowledge, and good old Creole cuisine to every eager visitor of the island.
Blue Lagoon Tour
The Blue Lagoon Tour is an exciting way of discovering the mangrove and lagoon of Santa Rosa through the tour package offered and guided by Jean-Eudes, a little guy from the North who has settled in Guadeloupe a few years back. On board his boat you will see the mangroves up the Mosquito River and dive near the reef before making a final stop at “his office "a beautiful little islet.
Jean is very friendly and a master on his subject where he conveys his passion about Basse-Terre and captivate his audience and their full attention. It is a remarkable excursion that is particularly recommended for those who wants a combination of nature and social interaction with a resident of the island who knows the ins and outs of the island and the true meaning of hospitality.
The Bel'Mangrov is an essential activity that you must try when in Basse-Terre. This rewarding activity is led and managed by the experienced guides Guy and Nadine who will bring you to discover this unique place where you will learn about the mangroves and its "inhabitants". The tour is all distilled with humor as you pedal your way on board the water bikes. Nadine is a bubbly woman and a great cook who can whip up a good Creole cuisine after the tour along with sharing some fun and laughter about the magical place. The best adventure you can ever have when in the city along with ending a wonderful day with a good view of the sunset from this side of Basse- Terre. This water sports activity can be best enjoyed with children and adults.
The tour provides a very nice hike through the mangrove while you sit, relaxed, and pedal the sea bike. For all lovers of water sport, it is an unforgettable day with beautiful scenery, interesting explanations and a sumptuous meal that is worthy of a restaurant in the countryside and a very nice beach stop. Do not miss this adventure that is punctuated by a beautiful sunset and the return of the bird to their nests in the afternoon. This is nature at its finest and purest form.
Akwapulsion, La Voile Facile
New to sailing? No problem. 5 minutes and enough grips through the advice of Eric and you'll find yourself tacking as the greatest skippers on the waters of the Basse-Terre! And all this in an idyllic turquoise water, mangroves, and deserted beach where the best barbecue awaits in every change of scenery. The Akwapulsion , La Voile Facile tour is an experience you must not miss while on tour of Guadeloupe. It is a great learning experience to navigate the waters on your own under his watchful eye. It is another way to discover Guadeloupe.
A navigation for everyone, including beginners making use of their new and safe equipment, along with enjoying beautiful walks on the fine sandy beaches that you will see, all in a great atmosphere. The fun while being active, the support and guide of a trusted master in island adventure, plus the idyllic scenes your camera will capture is just a few of the things to do while here in the Akwapulsion. Be sure to try it out if you happen to pass by the island of Guadeloupe.
The Fort Delgres is magnificent and well maintained and very large. The ride takes at least an hour and it is advisable to bring your own food and drinking water because the place does not sell anything. The adjacent museum has good explanations and presentation which is all free (including the entrance). The sculptures outside looks stunning and compliments the 360 degree views of the island. It is a must for photographers and couples who want to enjoy some quiet time alone.
The entire attraction tells the interesting story about the time of the "official pirates" in the Caribbean. A short film showing traces the lives of the slaves, explanatory notes are also set up behind every artifact presented. Please take note that despite the opening hours of 9:30 - 4:30 p.m. doors are closed during lunch break for about an hour and a half. Learn a lot about pirates and the history of Guadeloupe and admire the beauty of its surrounding mountains and the sea. All for free and in a perfect setting here in the wonderful island of Basse Terre. A nice view awaits you from the rooftops of the Fort Delgres, plus you can bring the kids for a bit of an educational tour about Guadeloupe.
Maison du Cacao
The Maison du Cacao tour is quite short but it traces in panels history of discovery, transformation and uses of cocoa. In the end, you are entitled to a workshop where you can throw any questions and inquiries about the sweet pod. The facilitator, is a passionate” cacao guru” and a native of Guadeloupe. He leads the tour and allows guests to taste straight from the bean pods of raw and dried cacao.
In addition there is another treat, how the cacao gets transformed as a “gwo kako” a local cacao drink that is made of pure and fresh cocoa mix and water. The museum also offers homemade chocolates, cocoa butter, and cocoa liquor. In three hours you will be delighted, satiated , and satisfied about the mansion and its sweet delights all made out of cocoa.
Parc des Mamelles, le Zoo de Guadeloupe
The Parc des Mamelles, le Zoo de Guadeloupe is a nice little zoo that is privately owned and ideal for families with children. You can see really good animals, which are quite numerous and appear healthy. The animals come primarily from the nearby Guyana. It lacks a refreshment bar, but the restaurant on the other side of the street should suffice if you feel famished after the zoo tour. In this place, you can find another worthwhile activity that you can try. The tree climbing and zip line adventure which is paid extra. It is a good way to spend time in Basse-Terre and where you can spend a good full day of bonding time with your kids.
The island of Basse-Terre is one of the hidden gems of the Caribbean that is interesting to discover. Aside from learning a lot about its history and culture, the real gem of the island are its locals who work on promoting their country and island into a good light by showing their sincere and good social interaction behind their warm smiles and endearing gestures with every traveler. Discover the island of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe and you will not regret every part of the tour you avail yourself with. Adventure, history, food, and entertainment, this island maybe small but it is loaded with things to do and memories to treasure.