WHERE ARE WE GOING?
Today we are diving in the Guadeloupe Archipelago (French West Indies). It is an archipelago of several stunning islands and an overseas region of France. It is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
WHY ARE WE DIVING IN GUADELOUPE?
Diving in Guadeloupe means you will be able to dive among a rich marine life of both micro and macro animals (turtles, tropical fishes, reef sharks (specific spots), corals, sea slugs, colorful shrimps and a lot more…) everything within a delightful warm water (26°- 29°C). In short, everything that a tropical paradise island provides…
If you want to get certified from one of the best diving federations in the world, the french federation (FFESSM) this is definitely the place to go. Of course, if you are a diver from PADI or SSI system you will be able to dive and to get certified (in specific centers affiliated to SSI and/or PADI).
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
This location is mainly accessible by plane. There are direct flights from Europe and the US mainly. You will arrive at Pointe-à-Pitre airport which has quite a central position. Then, I would advise you to rent a car if possible (around 10euros/day) but you can also choose to travel by bus, taxi or UBER.
WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?
The majority of the diving spots are located at the western part of the Island which is well protected from both swell and current (Main towns: Malendure, Deshaies, Pointe-Noire, Basse Terre).
There, the reef is wealthy and the biodiversity is rich. If you want to enjoy an easy and calm diving experience and or if you want to learn or just have a look at the marine biodiversity this is the place to go to.
Sites are mainly organised in a set of drop-offs and trays allowing multiple dives profiles including deep diving down to 60m / 200 ft with decompression steps (maximum depth, air breathing in the french legislation).
Read More: What is a No-Decompression Limit?
I would recommend Les Heures Saines diving center which is located at Malendure and which, from my point of view, provides the best quality of service, diving team, training and spots.
Depending on your diving skills and the weather quality you can also dive at the eastern part of the Island (Main Towns: Saint-François, Port-Louis) or at Les Saintes islands that host one of the best diving spots of the Caribbean: Le Sec Paté. Those locations are reserved for experienced divers with high technical skills (0- 60m using air-filled tanks and up to 120m depth using CCR trimix). There, there is a consistent probability to cross the path of large predators (sharks, sting rays, barracuda..).
TELL ME MORE
There are a lot of dive sites accessible from the shore but I would advise, even for an experienced diver, a first exploration with a local guide as the weather conditions can change fast when scuba diving in Guadeloupe.
There are a few liveaboard opportunities here but a lot of boat diving (single or double dives) with the dive centers every day the whole year.
DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?
As the water is warm you won’t need much thermal protection. If you plan to strictly dive with the local clubs they will provide you for a 3mm shorty which is sufficient for almost every one. If you are as chilly as I am, I would advise you to bring a full 3 or 5mm wetsuit, especially for long dives ;). All the diving equipment will be provided by the club.
Read More: Use our Wetsuit Temperature Guide
WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?
There are diving sites suitable for every level and, if you want to, diving centers provide training here.
A wreck/cave speciality may be a plus as we have several interesting wrecks and caves but, in the French legislation, there is no need to have a speciality to dive in a specific environment such as wreck or caves.
Read More: What is Cave Diving and the differences between Cavern Diving?
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?
Diving is possible all year round as water temperature is between 26 – 29°C (78.8 – 84.2°F). Visibility is good and ranges from 20m – 80m (65ft – 260ft).
The water is warmer from June to October but this is also the rain / hurricane season and the weather can turn bad. I would advise you to come here from November to May. Visibility is often higher, temperature a bit lower and rain probability is low.
HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?
It depends on the dive center but it ranges from 30 to 50 euros (35 – 60 USD) for a single dive. Price is usually lower if you take a package. Discounts are available for locals and/or equipped divers. For Pros, discounts are available for divers certified FFESSM only (dive masters/instructors).
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?
There is a great diversity of accomodation and the price greatly varies from one place to another and may range from 30 up to 500 euros a night. The choice will depend on your budget but you will be able to find an option that suits you. Of course, prices are lower out of the touristic periods.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I have been diving here for four years now, between one and 7 days a week and I never got bored. Actually, I’m still discovering new sites and new marine fauna species. If you want to discover the Caribbean underwater world in the highly secured system provided by French legislation, this is definitely the place to go.
WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?
Guadeloupe island is actually composed of two separated islands and linked by bridges.
Grande Terre, the eastern Island, is more dry and surrounded by white sand beaches and coconut trees. There you will be able to enjoy all the sea activities, surf, kitesurf, windsurf, sailing, jetski, snorkeling… It’s also the place where most of the night life is (restaurants, bars….).
Basse-Terre is an sleeping volcanic island covered by a majestic tropical forest. Tons of hiking options are possible here, including, rivers, waterfalls, climbing up to the top of the volcano… Don’t worry, you won’t have the time to get bored!