Grande-Terre is Guadeloupe’s main island teeming with white sand beaches, coastal towns, sugarcane fields, and craggy cliffsides. What’s more, the island’s turquoise clear water, dramatic landscapes, and colorful spice markets all ooze Caribbean postcard vibes that make you want to jump inside and sail away.
But as picturesque as it may be, Guadeloupe’s Grande-Terre island is far less lush and tropical, idyllic, or calm as it seems.
After living in Guadeloupe for two months, we quickly discovered that Grande-Terre is very different from its sister island, Basse-Terre, and the other islands belonging to Guadeloupe as a whole (Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, Petite Terre, Îlet Cabrit).
Despite its differences (some of which are not so pleasant), there are many amazing things to do on Grande-Terre island; from hiking the Hell’s Gate Trail on a road trip around North Grande Terre to hiking to Pointe des Châteaux to windsurfing and surfing off its sugary-soft beaches in Saint-François.
In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know to visit Grande-Terre including the best things to do, where to stay, how to get around, and more. I’m sharing all my best tips so you can make the most of your time exploring Guadeloupe!
Ultimate Guide to Grande-Terre, Guadeloupe
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks so much for your support!
✈️ Find cheap flights to Guadeloupe on KAYAK from $99+
🚗 Book your rental car well in advance on Discovercars.com
🏠 Stay at one of these top-rated hotels in Grande-Terre
💧 Remember to hydrate—fill a reusable water bottle and take 1L per person
📸 Bring your travel camera and drone gear for epic shots
🛡 Protect your adventures with SafetyWing, the global travel medical insurance for nomads
☀️ Sunset in Guadeloupe is around 18:00 (6 PM), turn around on any hikes before dark
Getting to Grande-Terre Island in Guadeloupe
The Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) is the only international airport that serves the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe.
The airport is located in the western part of Grande-Terre, nearby the popular town of Le Gosier and the highway connecting Grande-Terre to Basse-Terre island.
Right now, there are direct, non-stop flights each week from New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA). If you are traveling from Canada or France, you can get direct flights from Montréal (YUL) and Paris (CDG).
Transport & Traveling Around Grande-Terre
Once you land in Grande-Terre, your only convenient option for getting around the island is by rental car. You can either:
- Rent a car at Pointe-à-Pitre airport (highly recommended)
- Take the Karu’lis bus line to/between coastal towns
However, note that the bus system in Guadeloupe isn’t very reliable. We took the bus from Pointe-à-Pitre to the airport and back (to drop off our rental car) and from Le Gosier all the way up to Saint-François and back. Beyond that, we were stuck without a car.
If you don’t have a rental car for your time in Guadeloupe, you’ll find it very difficult to get around and do anything, especially if you want to travel from Grande-Terre to Basse-Terre. A rental car in Guadeloupe is simply a must for vacationers!
Where to Stay on Grande-Terre
The best places to stay will be along the southern coast—in the towns of Le Gosier, Sainte-Anne, and Saint François (from left to right on the map).
- Le Gosier: Park, beaches, outdoor market, nightlife, Gosier islet with lighthouse
- Sainte-Anne: Turquoise beaches, cute shops, markets, restaurants, Club Med, Plage de la Caravelle
- Saint-Francois: Upscale marina with restaurants, private beaches, diving, windsurfing, Pointe des Châteaux
Staying in the center of Point-à-Pitre is another option, but not one I would recommend; it’s a bit dodgy and far from the beaches.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Grande-Terre, consider these other places to stay in the North Grande-Terre, such as in Le Moule, Anse-Bertrand, and Port-Louis.
Top 10 Activities & Things to Do
As I mentioned above, Grande-Terre is all about white sand beaches, sugarcane fields, coastal towns, and dramatic cliffsides. Here are the best things to do and see on the island!
1. Visit the Pointe des Châteaux Peninsula
Grande-Terre’s top attraction is the craggy peninsula located at the easternmost tip of the islands. With incredible rock formations, La Pointe des Châteaux is unlike other places to visit in Guadeloupe.
Its jagged, pointy rocks jut out of the Atlantic and a tall cross atop its hill dons panoramic views all around you.
In short, it’s one of the best things to do on Grande-Terre Island. You won’t be disappointed! Go early, preferably at sunrise, for an extra special experience.
Read more details in my Pointe des Châteaux hiking guide.
2. Lounge on Grande-Terre’s Beaches
No doubt you’ve already seen drool-worthy images of Grande-Terre’s long, white-sand beaches.
Indeed, there are plenty of beaches to discover on the main island, stretching from Le Gosier to Saint-François, up past Le Moule, and around the northern tip to Anse Bertrand, Port-Louis, and beyond.
Beaches to particularly take note of on Grande-Terre:
- La Caravelle (Club Med beach)
- Plage du Souffleur (Port-Louis)
- La Datcha (Le Gosier)
- Plage d’Îlet Gosier
- Plage du Bourg Sainte-Anne
- Petit-Havre Beach
- Plage de Salines
- Plage des Raisins Clairs (Saint-François)
Beware, the beaches just off the towns tend to be crowded—especially on weekends and at sunset!
3. Hike the Hell’s Gate Trail
If you enjoy hiking, you’ll love the Porte d’Enfer trail which hugs the cliffsides and Atlantic coastline. It offers incredible, jaw-dropping views of the ocean and cliffs iconic of North Grande-Terre.
You can do it round-trip in a couple of hours, or simply take 30 minutes to walk out to the first impressive hole at Trou de Madame Coco!
4. Grab Lunch on the Saint-François Marina
Out of all the towns in Grande-Terre, Saint-François is the cutest and has the best places to eat.
The marina is lined with restaurants, ranging from brasseries to brunch cafés, and pizzerias to sushi shops. It has the nicest atmosphere as well, with views right on the marina and incoming boats. (It’s a lot calmer than the Bas-du-Fort Marina.)
For breakfast and brunch, you won’t want to miss grabbing a seat in the boho-chic, airy café called Café Corail. They are more than just a juice shop—enjoy organic and plant-based ingredients, locally sourced, that make for a hearty, healthy brunch. Think deluxe avocado toast-style with fresh fruit and salad!
5. Taste Artisanal Rum at Gwadinina Distillery
Guadeloupe is famous for its rum and sugarcane fields. But don’t tour just any rum factory you find! Instead, spend the morning or afternoon visiting the family-owned rum distillery called Gwadinina.
They offer daily tours (cost €5 – lasts around 30 minutes) that walk you through the entire artisanal rum-making process, with the option to do a tasting of all their award-winning rums inside the shop. (€5)
You can find them located just 10-minutes outside of Saint François, en route to Le Moule.
6. Kayak to Gosier Islet Lighthouse
Just across from Le Gosier and the Datcha beach lies the Le Gosier Islet on which stands a beautiful white and red lighthouse, visible from the mainland.
You can reach the island in 15–20 minutes by the seat of your kayak (or water bike), and enjoy fresh lunch at the restaurant on the islet.
Kayak, SUP and canoe rentals (from Kaya’kool) are available right on Plage de la Datcha.
You can even rent a clear, glass-bottom kayak to see the underwater world beneath you as you go. Snorkel masks are included as well for snorkeling and swimming once you reach the islet. The rental cost for a half-day is €20 or €15 for 2hours.
🛶 Check out even more activities and tours in Guadeloupe.
7. Tour the Memorial ACTe (Slave Trade Museum)
The Memorial ACTe* is a contemporary museum showcasing historical exhibits of the Caribbean’s indigenous population and the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. If you’re breezing through Pointe-à-Pitre, you can’t miss it, even if it’s just to marvel at it from the outside.
*Currently closed due to the ongoing global health situation.
8. Enjoy Delicious Açaí at Sainte-Anne Beach
On Sainte-Anne beach, you’ll find a colorful outdoor market and beachfront restaurants and cafes. Among them is the quaint Les Givrés shack offering delicious homemade açaí bowls with organic and local ingredients. (Add the organic cashew butter—you won’t regret it!)
One of the first places we visited in Grande-Terre was Sainte-Anne beach. It immediately invited us in, with its turquoise clear waters, sailboats, and palm-lined golden beach. Definitely carve out some time in your Guadeloupe itinerary to slow down and enjoy a frozen treat in Sainte-Anne!
9. Road Trip North Grande-Terre
One of the best things to do in Grande-Terre is to simply hop in your car and drive. As you go, you’ll be enamored with the changing landscapes.
While the southern coast features plenty of white sand beaches and calm, lapping Caribbean waves, the east, north, and western coastlines of Grande-Terre island feature dramatic, craggy cliffs with turbulent Atlantic wind and waves.
The contrast is quite amazing! It almost feels as if you are in the Caribbean one minute, and scampering around somewhere in the UK the next (except the weather’s much warmer year-round!).
Places to visit on an epic Grande-Terre island road trip:
- The towns on the southern coast
- Pointe des Châteaux peninsula
- Le Moule — cute town with colorful Hôtel de Ville
- La Porte d’Enfer Lagoon hike
- Pointe de la Grande Vigie — northernmost point
- Anse Bertrand community + public beach
- Plage du Souffleur (Port Louis)
- Lac de Gaschet
- Anse du Canal & Les Marches des Esclaves
- Kayak trip out to the Îlet Rat and Îlet Macou
- Boat trip out to Îlet Fajou
10. Visit the Northernmost Point of Grande-Terre
Finally, on your road trip, don’t miss out on a journey to the northernmost point of Grande-Terre island at Pointe de la Grande Vigie.
Here, you can find a handful of hiking trails that don incredible panoramic views on the ocean and the surrounding islands! It’s definitely worth the drive out there (and isn’t too far even to do a round-trip on the same day).
Overall, Grande-Terre is a beautiful island with plenty to do and see.
If you have any questions about Grande-Terre, drop them in the comments below!
LIKE IT? PIN IT!