My self-drive one week in Guadeloupe report is going to be split in two parts to avoid boring you with its length.
As always, this is not your typical destination guide which means I won’t provide food recommendations. I cook my own food when I travel which to save a fortune for future adventures.
Guadeloupe is a unique destination which I personally don’t consider a beach destination. It is a perfect island for active travelers looking for adventures in rainforests exploring mountains, volcanos, waterfalls, and rivers with occasional relaxation by its gorgeous beaches.
The gorgeous island of Guadeloupe, is a French department with French as its official language and Euro as the currency.
For my previous travel reports, head to my Travel section on the blog.
My Criteria for Any New Destination
It has been an amazing week! Everything started by booking the flight from Montreal, QC to Guadeloupe. My criteria for picking a location were a place which doesn’t require a PCR test to save the $150 CAD and second direct from Canada to reduce complications. Final criteria was that it needed to be a new location for me. I don’t redo regions especially the Caribbean islands due to their size.
Guadeloupe was the perfect choice because it met all my 3 conditions including cheap flights on Air Canada. The best part is that I booked my Guadeloupe flight using Aeroplan Points. This proves the power of credit card churning. All the Aeroplan Points I used were received through credit cards bonuses.
My flight was scheduled for Dec 24th, so I made an appointment for an Antigen test with Appletree Clinic in Ottawa, ON. The test was $30 CAD. Despite having an appointment, it took 2 hours to get my test done. The clinic was overbooked and understaffed. There were lots of people especially those who needed to see a physician. It made me nervous to be in line with all these patients.
After getting my negative Antigen result, I was all set. I already had the parking booked at Montreal Park’N Fly airport parking lot for $185.05 CAD. I then drove the 2.5 hours the night prior to my scheduled flight and spent a miserable night in the airport without any real sleep.
I have already checked in online and didn’t have a drop off baggage, so just waited till they opened the security at 4 AM to pass the security and wait by the gate.
First Experience Using Crypto.com Visa Card For Lounge
Before getting to the gate, I used my Crypto.com Visa credit card which comes with unlimited lounge usage and bought some delicious breakfast all paid for by CDC. The restaurant just swiped the card then entered my flight number and all set. There is a $32 USD charge on the credit card which will be refunded within 30 days.
The airplane was almost fully booked with mostly families and small children. Without any delay, we took off from freezing cold QC with its -15 C toward our beautiful sunny green destination, Guadeloupe which ended up being cloudy more than sunny but still gorgeous!
It was so interesting to keep checking our location via the screen flight tracker and figuring out all the islands we were flying from.
Landing in Guadeloupe During Covid & Immigration Process
Guadeloupe airport authorities disembark one airplane at a time due to Covid to reduce the impact in case of a positive case. We had to wait about 20 minutes before leaving the plane. Inside the airport, there were 2 lines, vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Vaccinated travelers just had to show their proof of vaccination and the negative result of the Antigen test. Unvaccinated travelers had to provide a justified reason (Tourism isn’t one of them) to visit the island. The immigration processed the vaccinated travelers quickly and we were welcomed by some ladies dressed up in Christmas costumes and giving away chocolates to new arrivals.
Next step was to pick up the rental car.
Rental Car Pickup Drama & Let the Week in Guadeloupe begins
I needed to find a phone to call the rental car company! I have already told them I won’t have a local SIM card so won’t be able to call them. However, they assured me that there are complimentary phones in the airport to use. Unsurprisingly, the airport was in a kind of lockdown mode with only had a small corridor to walk from the gates to immigration to customs and exit doors.
This means, I left the airport without calling the rental car company. I just kept walking around in hope of finding them unsuccessfully. I ended up asking a young man who was playing with his phone for help. He called the rental company and they told him they will arrive at gate 3 in 10 minutes.
After thanking him, I walked to gate 3 and waited over 15 min. I then tried my luck with the airport WIFI. I kept walking around to find connection which finally worked slowly. I called them from my VoIP number, and they said another 15 minutes. I was truly disappointed.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t some cheap booking. The tiny car was 50 Euros ($75 CAD) daily. After feeling how PRO Rent Guadeloupe failed me, I lost confident in this rental company, and started walking around and evaluating my backup plan which was a local company with not really good reviews. I had already confirmed that they have cars available pending my phone call to deliver.
I decided to try my luck with West Indies car rental in Guadeloupe. I called them and was told to wait for them by the pharmacy at gate 1. Efficiently, they were there by the time I arrived. I then got transferred to their office, and we did the paperwork. The car wasn’t in the best appearance shape, but it was a powerful sedan Citroen C4 vehicle. It went up and down the hills with no issues.
They charged me 31 Euro per day, so I saved 114 Euros which is around $162 CAD in comparison with the other rental company.
Valuable Lesson: Sometimes bad things happen for a very good reason we aren’t aware of (yet)!
After picking up the car and driving for about 30 minutes while getting off the highway from the wrong exit, I arrived at my Guadeloupe accommodation “Happy Hippies Hostel”.
Day 2 – La Soufriere Volcano & Ecrevisses Waterfall Adventures
On my first full day in Guadeloupe island, I planned to tackle the most challenging activity which is hiking to the top of La Soufriere volcano. The drive through the mountains on the west coast of the island to reach the entrance took 1.5 hours. On my way, I also stopped by some viewpoints and Fort Delgrès which was sadly closed due to Covid until further notice.
After reaching the packed parking lot of the volcano, I started my hike toward the crater. It took about 2 hours to hike to the summit from altitude 748 to 1467 meters which means a 719m elevation gain. At the summit, it was really cloudy and foggy so I had to take shelter behind a big rock waiting for the clouds to clear up for seconds so I can have the view of the city and the sea!
After taking photos of the gorgeous views, there was a barrier with a recommendation to avoid crossing deeper due to the volcanic activity.
However, obviously those signs have been there for decades and even the writings were faded out, so I kept going as I wanted to see where this rotten egg smell comes from.
I ascended for 5 minutes then there is 2 huge rocks on the right pointing to the volcano crater. I kept walking another 5 minutes and now the foggy looking clouds are warm!
These aren’t fogs or clouds anymore. These are the steams from the volcano. It is so dense that I couldn’t see the bottom, but I could feel its power.
Time to descend while going through the amazing but challenging trail and all the gorgeous views.
There was a small natural hot pool by the entrance which I used to relax a bit after the tough hike.
By the time I was done with the natural pools, it was already 3 PM. My plan for the day was to hike the 1st and 2nd Chute du Carbet Waterfalls. Beating my tired body, I drove there and on my way I see an interesting beach so I check it out briefly!
I then keep driving to the entrance of the waterfalls, but the reception informed me that there isn’t enough time before dark to make the round trip to the 1st waterfall.
Their waterfall naming is kind of confusing. From the reception, the walk to the 2nd waterfall is only 20 minutes. But there is another 1:20 minutes climb to reach the 1st waterfall.
The entrance to the waterfalls from this reception is 5 Euros and as I aimed for the hike to the 1st waterfall, I decided returning the following day to enjoy it in a more relaxed pace! A dream never came true!
After leaving Carbet Waterfalls in Guadeloupe entrance, I head back to the hostel but took a different route which is the main N1 highway. The other route on the west coast is called N2.
After reaching the intersection between N2 and Route de la Traversee, I turned left toward the famous Route de la Traversee which is the first established route in Guadeloupe. There are many waterfalls and hiking opportunities here.
It was a fabulous drive through the mountains. However, in my opinion the west coast drive from the north to the south of the island through N2 is nicer as it travels through mountains with the sea on the right side. In addition, it passes through small towns and villages giving a unique opportunity to absorb more of the local culture.
After driving inside Route de la Traversee in Guadeloupe, I stopped by a famous waterfall called Cascade aux Ecrevisses. The waterfall is 10 minutes walk from the parking lot. It was around 5 PM and the waterfall wasn’t crowded at all which made it a perfect spot to take my first swim in a Guadeloupian waterfall.
After swimming a bit in the refreshing waterfall and taking many photos and videos, I drove back to the hostel. But the amazing nature kept surprising me. It was sunset time and even though it was cloudy, the sun was shiny by the time it was ready to say goodbye for the day.
I stopped to watch the sunset before reaching the hostel around 6:30 PM.
Day 3 – Swimming in Chute du Carbet Waterfalls
It is the Carbet waterfalls day! As always, I used Google map to drive to my destination but Google decided to take me to the entrance of a 3rd waterfall! I didn’t even know there is a 3rd Carbet waterfall and wasn’t sure what to expect but the signs assured me I can get to the 2nd and 1st waterfalls from here so why not embracing another waterfall on my way! Oh my!
It is a 3 Km or 1:10 hours hike from the 3rd Carbet waterfall parking lot to the fall. What a unique hike. I am speechless and don’t even know how to describe it. I experienced tropical pouring rains occasionally which changed the trail to a muddy river.
I didn’t see any soul during the whole hike. To reach the waterfall, I had to use a huge tree root to descend toward the waterfall. It is not the biggest waterfall, but it has a huge pool to swim at. However, I didn’t swim there as it wasn’t sunny, and I felt the water was cold plus I still had lots of walking ahead of me.
Pro Hint: Take a waterproof light jacket with you! It will be really needed in Guadeloupe’s rainforests. Needless to say, a pair of shoe you don’t mind getting muddy and wet. And an extra pair of shoe, socks, and clothes.
After enjoying the “private” waterfall including walking in the water and crossing through rocks, I started climbing up to go back on the trail. At this point, I was a bit confused and had to check the trail on MAPS.ME to find it again.
Pro Hint: Always use MAPS.ME as your map for hiking especially when the trails aren’t crowded.
The trail from the 3rd Carbet Waterfall to the 2nd Carbet Waterfall (Deuxieme Chute de Carbet) was really challenging and based on the signs should take 1:35 hours to the 2nd and 2:25 hours to the 1st Carbet waterfall (Premiere Chute du Carbet).
First, it was a totally empty trail without any kind of living creature (Except birds). Then the terrain is so uneven including pools of muds, huge tree roots, and rocks.
If it wasn’t for MAPS.ME I’d have turned back due to the fear of getting lost in the middle of the rainforest, but I kept going. There are also yellow signs on the trail to guide hikers, but they aren’t easy to spot anymore.
At one point, the trail reached a river, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. So, I started walking by the rocky wall side of the river before realizing I should cross the river!
I crossed the river which was a fun and not dangerous experience. Then had to climb on a huge rock and use 2 ropes to climb to the other side of the trail! Few minutes later, I had to cross the river again and kept going and going for what it felt a never ending climbing up to reach a waterfall!
Finally, after 1:45 hours I reached the intersection with signs saying 10 more minutes to the 2nd waterfall and 1:10 hours to the 1st waterfall. At this point, I decided to keep going straight toward the 3rd waterfall which is supposed to be the tallest and most beautiful one.
This was another challenging hike included climbing many stairs, narrow trails, ropes to climb rocks, before finally reaching the super beautiful waterfall packed with crowds. It was a clear day so I could see the city and the sea from the waterfall which made it a more rewarding experience.
I jumped in the waterfall, and it was so good refreshing. However, its base is really small, and water is cold, so it was 5 minutes in and out experience. The main fun is to enjoy the drop of the magnificent Premiere Chute du Carbet. Maybe now I understand better why they call this one the 1st Carbet Waterfall. It truly deserves to be ranked number one!
After enjoying the cold swim in the waterfall and the amazing views all over the area, I headed down the same path. Walking down wasn’t as easy as I imagined due to the uneven path and my already tired knees.
I reached 2nd Carbet Waterfall (Deuxieme Chute de Carbet) which wasn’t too impressive. There is just a viewpoint where visitors can stand and look at the waterfall from the distance. There were signs saying going down wasn’t allowed and I wasn’t in the mood (or energy) to take the risk this time plus I still had about 2.5 hours of hike back to the parking lot.
After taking photos, I headed back toward the 3rd Carbet Waterfall which was a very slow hike for me. I wanted to now enjoy the hike more as I became familiar with the trail and not stressed about time management. Plus, I was alone so had to go slow to avoid any risk or injury.
I stopped by both rivers and gave my shoe a wash. Also, it was so refreshing and felt like a massage on the feet as the river was powerfully running.
My second stop by the waterfall was lunch time, so I took out my lunch and ate it all alone in the middle of the rainforest with my feet in the river! What an amazing scene that I will always remember.
I then kept walking and reached the entrance to the 3rd waterfall where I could go down the tree root again and reach its pool, but I was so exhausted to do that considering I was there just in the morning.
I kept walking toward the parking lot and this time met many people along the path coming toward the 3rd waterfall. The parking lot was almost full. I am so glad I did this early morning to avoid the crowd. For me personally, Nature without people is always much more beautiful and peaceful.
It was about time to drive back to the hostel but of course I had to go discover the undiscovered nearby towns, so I kept driving through villages and small towns avoiding the main highway road as much as possible. I also stopped by a supermarket to do some grocery.
Pro Tip: You can almost always pay with a credit card in Guadeloupe. I used my Crypto.com Visa card and kept earning 5% on each transaction in $CRO. Also, there is no foreign exchange fee or any other kind of fees when I used my Crypto.com Visa card to pay or to withdraw money from an ATM. Apply for Crypto.com and get a free $25 in Bitcoin to start your Crypto adventure!
I hope you enjoyed the first part of my Guadeloupe adventure. In the second part, I will cover the rest of the trip including PCR drama and more touring of the island.