French Antilles

Guadeloupe vs Martinique, Where to Go?


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Guadeloupe or Martinique? Martinique or Guadeloupe?

Spending the holidays in the French Caribbean is a wonderful idea. But if you are planning a trip there, there is a question that may pop up in your mind: Martinique vs. Guadeloupe, which island to choose?

Guadeloupe and Martinique are both stunning islands of France Overseas, which means that they are part of France. As such, they have a lot of similarities: the official languages are French and the local créole, the currency is the euro, and they are France’s former colonies. Besides that, the two islands also have pretty similar weather and cuisine.

Despite these points in common and being geographically close, Martinique and Guadeloupe have their own personality and charm.

So, Guadeloupe vs. Martinique – which one to choose?

Guadeloupe Beaches

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Martinique vs. Guadeloupe Travel

1. Nature in Guadeloupe and Martinique

Balata Garden - Martinique, French Antilles

The French Antilles are a true natural paradise, but depending on which island you visit, you will experience different natural landscapes.

Martinique has a telling nickname, “Ile-aux-Fleurs”, the island of flowers. Martinique’s vegetation is more colorful than the one in Guadeloupe. By visiting the island, you will discover over 1700 species of flowers and 3000 species of tropical plants.

The flowery hills and the tropical forests of Martinique, inhabited by incredible animals such as iguanas, mongooses, and hummingbirds, will amaze you!

Martinique also has a Regional Natural Park that covers 63 hectares, occupying a large part of the island. While you are in Martinique, don’t miss the Balata Garden, which gathers floral species from all tropical regions worldwide.

The landscapes in Guadeloupe are less colorful but more varied, greener, and wilder than Martinique’s. The island is known for its lush and thick forests and mangroves, dotted with crystal-clear rivers and stunning waterfalls.

On Basse Terre, you can explore Guadeloupe National Park, which covers nearly 22 hectares and has tropical forests and marine environments. When in Guadeloupe, don’t miss the Botanical Garden at Deshaies. The garden was designed by landscape architect Michel Gaillard, and it consists of 15 different themes, such as the Waterlily Pond and Parrot Village.

2. Outdoor Activities in Martinique and Guadeloupe

Souffriere Volcano - Guadeloupe

Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are dominated by a volcano from where you can enjoy fantastic views of the islands and their nature. In Martinique, you can visit La Montage Pelée volcano, while in Guadeloupe, there is La Soufrière volcano.

Guadeloupe has more hiking trails, covering 300 km. There are many trails through which you can discover enchanting natural sites, such as the Deux Mamelles waterfalls and the Carbet waterfalls or the famous Soufrière volcano.

Instead, Martinique has a total of 180 km of beautiful hiking trails. Among the most famous trails, you will find the Montagne Pelée volcano, the Presqu’île de la Caravelle, the Canal de Beauregard, and the Savane des Petrifications.

When considering Guadeloupe vs. Martinique nature landscapes, both islands offer plenty of things to see, but overall, in Guadeloupe, you will find more activities related to nature to do.

3.Watersports in Guadeloupe vs Martinique

Catamaran Day Cruise - Martinique, French Antilles

On both islands, you will find plenty of water activities like sailing, sea kayaking, stand-up paddling, surfing, sea bobbing, and traditional fishing. We found, however, more variety of tours in Guadeloupe.

Here is the list of the most popular watersport tours in Martinique:

Here’s the list of the most popular watersport tours in Guadeloupe:

4. Diving and Snorkelling in Martinique vs Guadeloupe

Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are excellent places for snorkeling and scuba diving.

In Martinique, you will be able to discover a very diversified marine fauna and flora by diving in the deep channel of Sainte Lucia in the South or in that of Dominica in the North. Equipped with a bottle or simply fins, mask, and snorkel, you can observe many species of tropical fish, gorgonians, sea turtles, and dolphins. The Rocher du Diamant is world-renowned for its beauty, as are the giant aquariums located between Saint-Pierre and Le Prêcheur – Click here for a diving /snorkeling day from a catamaran

Nicknamed “Karukera”, the island of beautiful waters, Guadeloupe never disappoints! The island offers you a colorful diving experience with its rich waters and dense fauna. The Îlet Pigeon and the Cousteau Reserve are world-known spots for diving, where you can observe a hundred species of multicolored fish, corals, gorgonians, turtles, and humpback whales – Click here for a fun sublue snorkeling tour

5. Beaches in Guadeloupe vs Martinique

Anse Noire Beach - Martinique, French Antilles

Both islands boast postcard-picture beaches of all winds, with water temperatures between 24C and 30C.

We personally prefer the beaches in Martinique, especially the ones covered by black sand. Because Guadeloupe is bigger and comprises several islands, you will find more variety of beaches in Guadeloupe.

Many beaches in Guadeloupe are strongly exposed to the Alizé wind, so they are perfect for water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfing.

6. History and Culture: Guadeloupe or Martinique?

Fort Delgres Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe and Martinique share the past of being France’s former slave colonies, and they both offer many historical sites to visit.

In Martinique, you can head to the Anse Cafard Memorial to learn about the island’s slavery past or admire the colonial architectural heritage at Saint-Louis Cathedral and Fort St. Louis, both in the town of Fort-de-France.

In Guadeloupe, you can visit the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral of Guadeloupe, located in Basse-Terre. If you are curious about the island’s colonial heritage, don’t miss Le Zévallos estate, the Fort Delgrès, and the Louis Delgrès Sacrifice Memorial.

Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are known as producers of rhum agricole, so paying a visit to one of the historical rhum distilleries is a must! Rhum distilleries in Martinique are more famous and beautiful: I recommend you to visit St. James Distillery and Rhum J.M. Distillery.

Guadeloupe‘s distilleries are almost all located in Basse-Terre, and they are worth a visit! Among the oldest ones, there are Distillerie Longueteau and Distillerie Bologne.

7. Getting Around in Guadeloupe and Martinique

To get around in Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will need a car, but there are a couple of differences to consider when deciding which island to visit.

Martinique is smaller, making it the ideal destination for shorter trips as distances are faster to cover.

Guadeloupe’s main island is much larger than Martinique, and you will need more time to reach all the different places that are scattered on the island.

In both islands, we recommend to find the best deals. Both sites cover the major and local brands and make a price comparison for you. This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.

8. Island Getaways: Martinique or Guadeloupe?

Marie Galante - Guadeloupe

If you are looking for an extra special holiday, you can combine the visit to Martinique or Guadeloupe with other islands in the Caribbean.

Guadeloupe is an archipelago of six islands with different characters, so you don’t need to go that far for an island getaway if you want to visit more than Guadeloupe’s main island! We recommend Les Saintes Archipelago and Maria Galante.

Both Guadeloupe and Martinique are connected by ferry to the island of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles. To cruise from Martinique (Fort-de-France port) to Dominica (Roseau port), you will need to board the ferry company L’Express des Iles for two hours. The service is available three times a week.

The transfer from Guadalupe (Pointe-à-Pitre port) to Dominica (Roseau port) is offered by the Jeans For Freedom company. The trip is two hours and 15 minutes long, and the service is available upon request.

From Martinique, it is also easy to reach the island of Saint Lucia. The connection between Fort-de-France and Castries (port in Saint Lucia) is operated by L’Express des Iles ferry company. The cruise is one hour and 30 minutes long and is available three times a week.

9. Budget in Martinique vs Guadeloupe

Budget-wise, there is only a small difference between Guadeloupe vs Martinique. In general, both islands are luxury destinations, and you should take into account spending some money for vacationing there. However, Martinique is a little more expensive than Guadeloupe.

Consider that for buying flight tickets, renting the car, and eating, we spent around five percent more in Martinique than we did in Guadeloupe for a similar trip.

Which is Better Guadeloupe or Martinique?

Martinique or Guadeloupe, which is better to visit? As you can see, every island has strengths and weaknesses, so it really depends on what you are looking for and what’s important to you. However, be sure there’s ultimately no wrong answer: no matter which island you choose to visit, you will have a wonderful trip.

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