Family vacations can be exhilarating—and financially exhausting. Guadeloupe is a great choice for families who really want to get away from it all without going too far away and spending too much money. The warm and sunny islands that make up this French territory in the Caribbean are just a short plane ride away. Combine that with family-friendly accommodations along white sandy beaches, inexpensive activities that engage young minds, and tantalizing cuisine featuring the freshest ingredients, and it’s hard to see why anyone would pass up a trip to this tropical paradise.
The seafood is unsurpassed in Guadeloupe. The islands’ culinary style reflects French, African, Caribbean and even Indian influences. Each of the islands incorporates these flavors in a unique way, however, all make the most of the easy accessibility to the freshest seafood imaginable, prepared to the highest culinary standards. Local fish and shellfish are caught fresh every day—sometimes making it from sea to table in just a few hours—whether you’re dining at a four-star restaurant, on-site at your hotel, or enjoying an inexpensive meal on the go from a local street vendor.
Guadeloupe is a paradise for hikers. You know those movies and TV shows where you see hikes through lush rainforest that end when a majestic waterfall comes into view, complete with a natural pool for swimming? In Guadeloupe National Park (Parc National de la Guadeloupe), you’ll feel like you’re in the movie. And, bonus—it’s free! The islands are known for their excellent hiking, with more than 100 miles of trails.
The park sits at the base of La Soufrière volcano. Bring good hiking shoes, because sometimes the trail may be muddy or slippery. Pack a swimsuit and a rain jacket, too. Choose among several well-marked, guided hikes depending on your skill, experience, and interest. Birdwatchers, keep your eyes open for black woodpecker, pearly-eyed thrasher, and lesser Antillean pewee. And don’t miss the Yellow Baths hot spring! The official park website is in French, but most browsers can translate. Trace (trail) statuses are posted regularly, so check it out before you go.
It’s a family-friendly beach resort with something for everyone. La Creole Beach Hotel in le Gosier is nestled among garden surroundings, featuring palm trees and bright bougainvillea. Three on-premise restaurants make feeding everyone simple, and breakfast is included. Restaurants offer French cuisine, Cajun/Creole cuisine, or a “diner” with pizza and quick service lunch. Amenities include WiFi (for a small fee), satellite TV, room service options, hair dryers, and complimentary crib/roll-away beds. Children of guests are welcome in the children’s club area, and there’s also a fee-based childcare service. There are two pools (one of them for children), plus many on-site activities for families traveling with older kids/teens, too. Things like sailing, volleyball, windsurfing, surfing, snorkeling, bicycle rentals, and spa services!
You can island-hop to a fort. Les Saintes is the site of Fort Napoleon, where you can get unforgettable 360-degree scenic views. It’s educational but it’s also fascinating. The fort’s museum is dedicated to the art, culture, history, and natural beauty of the area. Don’t miss the botanical cactus garden (yes, cacti in the Caribbean!) or the roaming iguanas. Get an early start—the site has limited hours, just 9am to 12:30pm. Also, it’s a steep walk up from the ferry dock, but a short one—only about 15-20 minutes. You may want to pack a French-English dictionary, as many exhibit materials are in French. Guided tours are available in French, although self-guided ones are fine, too. Admission is roughly $4 for adults, $2.25 for children.
Guadeloupe feels far away but it’s close to home. Getting there is easy with Norwegian Airways—it’s a direct flight from JFK. Plus, it’s only a 3-hour flight, so you won’t have to deal with too many ‘Are we there yet?” inquiries from the kids! Here’s to many happy family memories!