Just got back from Guadeloupe. Basse Terre was lovely and lush with beautiful beach that were crowded, I found the towns uninteresting. But the food good. The north west corner of Grande Terre (Pointe des Chateaux) had some very beautiful beaches but most of them were nude and gay. The people were very very friendly everywhere we went.
I live on Guadeloupe, and know the beaches near the 'Pointe the Chateaux' very well. There is only one nude beach in that area, others are perfectly normal. I go there all the time with my kids, and other than that single nude beach, there isn't any other beach that is nude, or even less 'gay'.
On the way to the end of the road, coming from St' Francois; stop at the right side of the road where you can see an entrance through the bushes, there are plenty of them, and many hide surprisingly beautiful, and unspoiled small beaches....
Basse Terre is the more quiet island of the two that form the butterfly of Guadeloupe. This island is volcanic, covered by a tropical rainforest with some 70 waterfalls of all sizes. Beaches not only vary in size and crowd, but also in composition; on the Northern side you'll find pristine beaches with yellow sand, while in the South the beaches have black sand from the volcano....
Have fun :)
I have just returned from Martinique. I visited Guadeloupe in April last year. Both islands are beautiful, but I liked Guadeloupe more. The island seems to be more pleasant than Martinique, maybe because there are relatively less French people from Europe. Native people are very kind and friendly. As Guadeloupe is bigger there is a lot of to do on that island, especially on Basse Terre. However, Martinique is more colourful and greener. If I had a choice once again, I would decide to go on Guadeloupe. That island is really worth visiting. And one more thing: drivers on Guadeloupe, unlike Martinique, are very well mannered.
Hello Rebelatheart (and others in the know)-
Was hoping for a bit of insight. My boyfriend and I have been casually researching islands with the thoughts that we just might relocate(from the DC area)...can you take some time to tell me about living in Guadalupe? What about if we were to move to Martinique?
I am a social worker, working on a grad degree in Forensic Psychology, so as long as there are problems and crime I imagine I'll find work, yes? My bf has expertise in the home remodeling area...we have two kitties and a pup. Easy to pack up and go.
personally, I would only recommend moving to Guadeloupe if you have enough money to last a few years, because finding a job as a foreigner isn't easy on Guadeloupe, but not impossible when you're flexible.
Going back to the original question - Guadaloupe or Martinique?, I know it may be a bit too late to help Valerie50, but I would say Martinique every time.
A key factor for both islands in my opinion is the fact that they are French départments, which means that a large amount of financial support is provided from France. This is evidenced by the infrastructure on the two islands, which is much more developed than on neighbouring islands. This, seems to make many of the islanders think, in my opinion, that tourism is not the vital industry that it is perceived to be on other islands.
Admittedly I have only stayed in Guadaloupe once, but we vowed never to go back again. We stayed at one of the best hotels on the island, in Gosier, but found the staff were unhelpful, surly, and generally did not have the right attitude. We hired a car for a week to explore the island, but then found that due to a strike and blockade of filling stations, we could not fill up the car again, so had to curtail our trips around the island. There were also "manifestations" '(demonstrations) protesting about something or other. I was left with the impression that many Gaudaloupiens do not believe in trying to be helpful and pleasant towards tourists.
I have stayed in Martinique several times, and although there is also the same attitude problems, I found it to be to a much lesser degree than in Guadaloupe.
The attraction of both island is the scenery and beaches. I would rate Martinique slightly better for beaches. They are both low key compared to some of the other islands. Do not expect big luxurious all inclusive resorts like St Lucia. The French, who make up the vast majority of the tourists, do not generally want that. French is the language in both islands, and although some English will be spoken in tourist areas, do not automatically expect English to be spoken everywhere.
I hope I do not appear to be too negative. I personally love Martinique, but if you are expecting a all inclusive luxurious resort with everyone speaking English I suggest it is not for you. But if, like Valerie you want
"a very low-key French speaking island with beautiful beaches and fun towns to explore."
then I would strongly recommend Martinique.
To all who have responded thus far and others...............
I also am deciding on which island to visit this winter.......or perhaps both. So, at this point, I would be ever thankful if you could recommend some hotels on both islands. I would really prefer as upscale as possible (although I know this isn't St.Barths we are talking about), very clean, good location, not too "cookie cutter".
What does "not too cookie cutter" mean?
In Martinique, although there are many good hotels, I have not found one that compares to some of the luxury hotels on other islands in the Caribbean. The best I know of is the Sofitel Bakoua, at Pointe de Bout in Trois Islets. It has a very good restaurant, and is also conveniantly near to the shops and other restaurants in Point de Bout, and Fort de France is a ferry rfide away across the bay.
In Guadeloupe I stayed at the Sofitel Auberge de la Vieille Tour in Gosier, which at the time (7 years ago) we picked because it was one of the best on the island, but I could not recommend it for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier posting.
I wrote and complained to Sofitel, which is a French company, afterwards. They did acknowledge there were some problems with staff training and motivation, and it was about a year or two after that the the Accor Group, which owns Sofitel, announced they were pulling out of Martinique and Guadeloupe completely. They then subsequently changed their mind, for reasons that I do not know (perhaps Jacques Chirac used his charm on them) and they are still there.