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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Can’t miss them in the channel of Petite Terre, sometimes a few meters only from the beach.
Frequently seen at Malendure Beach; occasional sightings in Petite Terre and the Pigeon Islands.
Common in Petite Terre.
Mainly found in the channel of Petite Terre, rare elsewhere.
Present on all spots, sometimes in large schools in the deeper areas.
Pretty common around the Pigeon Islands and in Petite Terre.
On all spots, including at Sainte-Anne shallow flats.
On all spots.
Common on sea fans, particularly at the Pain de Sucre beach.
Protected shallow channel with lemon sharks, rays, sea turtles and reef fish
Marine reserve with coral reefs, turtles and barracudas
Wreck and fringing reef with fish and coral
Level: Free shore access
Vibrant coral reef with a great diversity of fish
Fringing reef with a vibrant marine life
Marine reserve with seagrass meadows and sea turtles
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