Getting Around Guadeloupe
The best way to get around Guadeloupe is by car, which you can easily pick up at Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) in Grande-Terre's main city, as well as at popular resort areas. Another option is hailing a taxi, which you can do from the airport or major resort hubs. However, having your own set of wheels makes it easier to explore Guadeloupe's main islands, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. If you're planning to island-hop to Les Saintes, Marie-Galante and La Désirade, you'll need to catch a ferry from Pointe-à-Pitre.
If you want to navigate Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre on your own time, you'll need to rent a car. That said, you should prepare yourself for somewhat challenging driving conditions. You'll come across numerous rond-pointes (roundabouts) which can be difficult to navigate for drivers who are used to traditional intersections. You should clearly signal your desired direction. You'll also encounter tight bends while cruising along Basse-Terre's mountain roads. Exercise caution while driving off of main roads, and expect muddy roadways during the rainy season. Driving is on the right side of the road.
Familiar rental companies, including Hertz and Budget, can be found at the international airport and popular resort towns. Prices vary by vehicle type, company and length of rental. You'll score the best deal if you rent a car for the week instead of renting a new set of wheels each day. If you're planning to visit from December to May (high season), you'll want to reserve a car at least three months in advance. Also, most of the cars have stick shifts. If you require an automatic, make sure to request one. Your U.S. driver's license or an international driving permit will suffice.
If you don't mind spending a little extra cash on transportation, taxis serve as a hassle-free way of getting around Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. Taxis are metered, but you should note fares increase by up to 40% between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. A taxi ride from the airport to Pointe-à-Pitre should cost approximately 25 euros (about $32). Prices vary by distance. Check with your hotel to see if they offer transfer from the airport to the property.
The islands of Guadeloupe are located within 20 to 45 minutes of one another, making daytrips a cinch. What's more, round-trip tickets are affordable starting at 25 euros (about $27). Several ferry companies offer daily service from Grande-Terre and Basse Terre to Marie-Galante, Les Saintes and La Désirade. L'Express des Îles offers round-trip passage from Pointe-à-Pitre to Terre-de-Haut, the main – and most populated isle – of Les Saintes, as well as to Marie-Galante. For L'Express des Îles current fares and schedules, consult its official website.
There are more than 600 miles of paved roads in Guadeloupe, making it a popular spot for amateur and professional cyclists. In fact, there's even a nine-day Tour de la Guadeloupe bicycle race held every August. For tourists, bicycles are a cheap and reliable way of getting around Les Saintes and Marie-Galante. Bike rentals cost around 15 euros (roughly $16) per day. For an even easier ride, book an electric bike to help with the hills in Basse Terre. In contrast, Grand-Terre offers more flat areas ideal for beginners. Before you seek out a bike rental, check with your accommodations to see if they offer guests access to complimentary bikes.
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