Guadeloupe archipelago, one of the best snorkeling destinations in the Lesser Antilles

Guadeloupe is a small archipelago comprising mainland Guadeloupe (made up of two islands, Grande Terre and Basse Terre, separated by an inlet), Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, La Désirade and several uninhabited islets.

The main island is home to many heavenly beaches, but few offer good snorkeling. If you are staying in Sainte-Anne, Grande Terre’s famous seaside village, there’s decent snorkeling in the lagoon bordering the beach. Not far from there, you may have the chance to spot green iguanas at Plage de Petit-Havre, although the sea life is not exceptional.

Tortue verte à Malendure
Malendure seagrass meadows are visited by many green sea turtles.

On the west coast of Basse Terre, the Bouillante region is Guadeloupe’s snorkeling hotspot. Malendure beach, a 10-minute drive north of Bouillante, is a great spot for swimming with green sea turtles, which come to feed on the bay seagrass meadows.

Less numerous since Hurricane Maria hit Guadeloupe in 2017, the turtles are nevertheless still easy to spot on this site. If you are visiting the region, do not miss a boat trip to the Pigeon Islands, two small islets located off Malendure. Also known as the Cousteau Reserve, this spot is the most famous in Guadeloupe.

Around the small islands, you may spot barracudas, turtles, elkhorn coral and reef fish in crystal clear water.

Snorkeling at Les Saintes archipelago, Guadeloupe
Plage du Pain de Sucre, in Les Saintes archipelago, is a true life-size aquarium.

The Saintes archipelago, about ten kilometers south of the main island, is home to several famous snorkeling spots. Plage du Pain de Sucre, in particular, is a real wonder.

This small beach lined with coconut palms opens onto a colorful reef covered with sea fans and sponges, home to hundreds of Caribbean fish species. Other options for snorkeling in Les Saintes are Anse Mire, just north of the village of Terre de Haut, and Anse Crawen, some 700m past the path descending to Plage du Pain de Sucre.

Barracuda aux Îlets Pigeon
In the Pigeon Islands, you are likely to spot great barracudas, sometimes pretty huge.

Whether you are a snorkeling beginner or a seasoned snorkeler, do not leave Guadeloupe without having a boat trip to the islets of Petite Terre.

This marine reserve is home to a shallow channel where you can see spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles, barracuda, and dozens of small lemon sharks, which are the stars of Petite Terre. Most day trips to Petite Terre leave from Saint-François, on the south coast of Grande Terre.

Snorkeling with lemon sharks at Petite Terre islets, Guadeloupe
Hosting a mere lemon shark nursery, Petite Terre islets are a snorkel must-do in Guadeloupe.

If you are planning a snorkeling trip to Guadeloupe or anywhere else in the Caribbean, we recommend the excellent Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas (also available in ebook), the reference guide to ID the fish you will encounter snorkeling the islands.

When to go snorkeling Guadeloupe?

Guadeloupe enjoys a tropical climate tempered by oceanic influences and trade winds. In the region, a dry season, known as “lent” (from January to June) can be distinguished from a humid season (“wintering”, from July to December).

With an average temperature of 80°F/27°C (77-90°F/25-32°C in the dry season and 75-85°F/24-29°C in the humid season), and an average water temperature of 82°F/28°C, snorkeling can be enjoyed all through the year. The hurricane season, which may prevent sailing and swimming for several days, runs from May to November.

Warm and humid
Warm and sunny

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