Formed from the smoldering flow of ancient volcanoes, the two adjacent islands that flair like butterfly wings either side of a salt lake are the Yin and Yang of Guadeloupe. Green foliage paints the slopes of mountainous Basse-Terre, the western wing, while developed resorts, rolling fields of sugar cane and broiling surf flush out the eastern half of this topographically and culturally rich destination. Joined by two narrow strips of land, the two halves of Guadeloupe are today under French sovereignty, so finding a breakfast baguette and a Creole catch dinner won't pose a problem.
Most ships anchor off Centre St-John Perse in the port city Pointe-…-Pitre on the southwest coast of Grande-Terre. Find this modern city's local pulse with a quick wander through a public market and museum before heading out to explore the rest of the east. Shuttle over to ?let du Gosier, a small island off the coast just out of the city, for a soothing swim and good snorkeling. Beaches lace the coastline, so choose between cooling breezes, spectacular crashing swells, solitude or swimming suitability as you make your way around the coast.