It has been over a year and a half since we moved here from French Polynesia, where we had lived for six years. Today, I am finally writing an article to help you prepare for your trip, with practical information and our personal insights.
While you might think this is a question easily answered on Google, choosing the best time to go to Guadeloupe is not trivial. If you want to maximize your chances of having beautiful weather and avoid rain and cyclones, it is good to have some knowledge on the subject.
So, in this quick article, I will provide you with our insight on the best time to visit Guadeloupe.
Before diving into the best time to visit, here is some practical information you should know when planning your trip to Guadeloupe:
- Entry Formalities: If you are French or European, there is no need for a visa to enter Guadeloupe. A passport (for Europeans) or an identity card (for French) is sufficient.
- Flight Time: It takes 8 hours and 40 minutes to fly directly from Paris to Guadeloupe, but it is also possible to fly directly from other provinces. I have already written a comprehensive article that explains all the existing possibilities for French and foreign travelers. For Quebecois, you can reach Guadeloupe in just 5 hours and 30 minutes with Air Canada and enjoy the tropical heat right away. We did this when we went to visit the island of Newfoundland.
- Airlines: Three airlines fly to Guadeloupe from France: Air Caribbean, Air France, and Corsair. Air Canada also operates flights from Quebec.
- Time Difference: Guadeloupe is in the UTC-4 time zone. Compared to Paris, Guadeloupe is 5 hours behind in winter and 6 hours behind in summer.
- Language: French is the official language, but many Guadeloupeans speak Creole.
- Electricity: There is no noteworthy information to report about electricity in Guadeloupe as it is the same as in France.
- Health: There are no major health concerns in Guadeloupe, but it is advisable to protect oneself from mosquitoes by wearing long clothes, especially at sunset and in the late afternoon, as is recommended in all tropical countries. Another important advice would be to drink bottled water due to concerns about Chlordecone and the water quality in Guadeloupe.
- Communication: Most French mobile phones work well in Guadeloupe, so there is no need to worry about using your 4G mobile phone from France. Coverage is generally good, but it may be limited in remote areas such as inland regions while hiking.
Let me cut to the chase.
Depending on the number of tourists and what this means for the prices of flights, accommodation and plane tickets, I have decided to break down the seasons in Guadeloupe in a general way. So, as I see it, they are as follows:
- The very high season: February and December
- The high season: January, March, April and August
- Middle season: May, July, October, November
- Low season: June June, September
You will understand that it will vary depending on: school holidays, good weather, cyclone, etc.
Simply put, Guadeloupe, located in the West Indies, enjoys a tropical climate all year round, making it an ideal destination for many things (which is why we love it, right?). Guadeloupe’s tropical climate is ideal for swimming on its white sandy beaches, exploring the Soufrière volcano or enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, with generally pleasant temperatures and moderate rainfall. If you’re in the mood for a short walk in the forest, Bassin Bleu is the place for you. However, the area is clearly in the path of cyclones. The island can experience heavy rainfall during this period.
The dry season – “Carême”
Here’s what you need to know about this period:
- This lasts from December to May-June,
- This is the driest season and rainfall will be less frequent (although you can still get some nice showers),
- The average temperature is 28° C (day) and 22° C (night) -> Of course, this can vary a lot depending on where you are in Guadeloupe,
- Water temperatures are ideal at 26/27°,
- During this season, the winds are generally lighter.
- This is the ideal season for the discovery of the sailing routes!
The rainy season “Hivernage”
- This lasts the rest of the year, from June to December,
- Temperatures are warmer (around 30°C), although it’s not so hot here (maybe because we’re used to it?),
- This is also the season with the most rain and humidity. Showers are more frequent and although I think it’s cooler than in Polynesia, it can still rain for several days in a row,
- Water temperature about 29 degrees,
- In short, June – November is also the hurricane season, which as we know (just look at the damage of Hurricane Irma – Category 5 on Saint-Martin in 2017) can wipe out everything in its path. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t come during this time, but just be aware that it can happen. My parents came in September. They were hit by storm Fiona. Bad luck. It is often said here, that the risk is highest from August to October.
I wanted to include a section on sailing in Guadeloupe since it’s a popular question, given that the Caribbean is a fantastic sailing destination. Here’s my summary:
Dry Season (December to April)
- The best time to sail in Guadeloupe,
- With fairly constant and moderate trade winds, calm seas, and little rainfall
- Enjoying pleasant temperatures between 25°C and 30°C.
Wet Season (June to November)
- Sailing during this time can be more variable,
- With stronger winds, heavier rainfall, and a possibility of cyclones,
- More challenging and risky.
The differences between the islands of the Guadeloupe archipelago are worth exploring. Guadeloupe is comprised of two main islands: Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, as well as the “dependencies” as they are sometimes called, which include Les Saintes, Marie Galante, and Désirade. It is important to note that:
- Basse-Terre is generally wetter than Grande-Terre. It rains heavily in the interior, especially in the center of the island and as you get closer to La Soufrière. The area is prone to clouds getting stuck, and once you get to Saint-Claude, you’ll understand why it’s so lush and green (haha)! The area is also known for its beautiful vegetation and tropical forest. I have created a dedicated page for all the walks we took in Guadeloupe.
- Grande-Terre, on the other hand, is much less wet than Basse-Terre. The western part of Grande-Terre, specifically Pointe-à-Pitre/Baie Mahault, is the wettest. The north and east of Grande-Terre are more arid, and this part of Guadeloupe is also less rugged. With the exception of Grands-Fonds, there is little relief, so you are more likely to walk along the sea or cliffs, as there are very few wooded areas like Basse-Terre.
- The other islands, Marie-Galante, Désirade, and Les Saintes, are generally less wet, although it is still possible to experience a nice shower!
I completely agree with you that local festivals and activities can significantly influence one’s decision to visit Guadeloupe. For instance, the carnival season, which lasts roughly from January to March, is a must-see event in Guadeloupe. Specifically, it starts from the first Sunday in January (the Epiphany) and ends on Ash Wednesday. This year, it was on 21st February 2023. I had attended part of the carnival here in Basse-Terre last year, and I must say it was an amazing experience. If you love Guadeloupean culture, parades, beautiful costumes, singing, and music, then it’s definitely worth visiting during this time.
Besides the carnival, there are other local festivals and activities that are equally fascinating. Some of them include:
- La Fête des Cuisinières: A celebration of the island’s culinary traditions, this festival focuses on Guadeloupe’s women who have preserved local recipes. It usually takes place around 10th August.
- The Tour des Yoles Rondes: This traditional sailing boat race attracts a large number of enthusiasts and takes place every year in July.
- The Route du Rhum: This exciting race, which starts in Saint Malo and finishes in Pointe-à-Pitre, takes place every four years in November. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until 2026 for the next race.
- Terre de Blues: This music festival, held every May/June in Marie-Galante, is perfect for lovers of blues, jazz, soul, and reggae.
- La fête du Crabe: This festival, which takes place every year in July in Morne-à-l’Eau, celebrates Guadeloupean cuisine and provides an opportunity to discover different recipes.
These festivals and activities offer a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse culture of Guadeloupe. So, whether you plan to visit during the carnival season or any other time of the year, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
I must admit that despite having dived a few times in Guadeloupe, mainly in the Cousteau Reserve, and also at La Désirade, I cannot claim to be a great expert on diving in the region. You can read my articles to get an idea of my personal experiences with diving in Guadeloupe.
In any case, Guadeloupe is a renowned diving destination with warm tropical weather and crystal clear waters that make for a great diving experience throughout the year, with water temperatures varying between 25°C and 29°C. However, the best time to dive in Guadeloupe is between December and April, with some seasons being better than others. During this period, the water temperature is ideal, ranging from 25°C to 27°C, while the air temperature is mild, varying between 27°C and 31°C. Moreover, visibility is often excellent during this period. This is also the time when humpback whales can be observed, and if you want to hear them singing underwater, you should plan your trip for the French winter.
The Carême season, which lasts from May to August, is also a good time to go diving in Guadeloupe. Although it may be a bit warmer and more humid than other seasons, the water is still very pleasant, with a temperature of 29°C on the surface and at depth, making it difficult to get cold.
The worst time to dive in Guadeloupe is during the cyclone season, when heavy rains and lack of light can make for unfavorable diving conditions. During this period, many of the dive centers on the island may be closed. To avoid such inconveniences, the ideal time to plan your trip would be during the low season, which is around October and November, with less rain, lower risk of hurricanes, and fewer tourists. So, I would say this is the perfect time to visit!
In my personal opinion, I would like to offer a few tips.
It is important to understand that the majority of tourists from France visit Guadeloupe between December and February when the weather is nice and fresh. However, this is also the coldest and least enjoyable time of year in France, and it’s the same for Canadians and Americans. While the weather is great during this time, there are downsides to visiting at this time of year:
- Firstly, there will be more people in the classic tourist areas, so it’s best to wake up early in the morning to be alone sometimes, even in tourist spots.
- Secondly, airline ticket prices are significantly higher than usual, and prices have increased even more due to the Covid pandemic. For example, a round-trip ticket from Paris to Pointe-à-Pitre this summer (which is admittedly during the “bad period”) will cost on average almost 900 €! Even flying over Christmas costs close to €900. However, in the off-season, which is usually in March and September, the ticket prices are more affordable. For instance, a one-way ticket from Paris to Pointe-à-Pitre costs between €500 and €600 in September.
- This will also lead to a general reduction in availability. Therefore, it’s essential to keep things in perspective. While you will always find accommodation, depending on the area, it may be challenging to obtain what you desire. Nevertheless, you can always discover something on Airbnb or Booking.
- The same applies to car rentals. They fill up quickly, so if you want to rent a car, don’t hesitate to book early. I often recommend using Rentalcars to compare the prices of different car rental companies on the island.
April to June is the dry season, although it’s hotter, it hardly rains, and you can avoid the crowds of December to February. It’s the ideal time to explore the gardens in full bloom and consider many walks, including the one to La Soufrière. Speaking of gardens, don’t forget to visit the Jardin de Valombreuse, an excellent place to discover. Even if you arrive at the end of the whale season (January to March overall), you can still see whales in March.
Indeed, coming between December and February guarantees warmer and cooler weather and more chances of seeing whales. Moreover, during the tourist season, there will be more activities available.
It’s always a matter of personal preference, but you can visit Guadeloupe year-round. While there are certainly more favorable seasons, I sincerely believe that the cost of airfares will guide your decision.
That’s all for now. You can now make an informed decision about when to visit Guadeloupe.
See you soon for a new article, likely on the budget considerations for a trip to Guadeloupe.