Meet Finnish journalist Mirva Lempiäinen. After traveling the world, she found her happy place in the French Caribbean and wrote the book on Guadeloupe: The Quick Gwada Guide.
Living Room: Guadeloupe, the French Caribbean
Featured Stranger: Mirva Lempiäinen
Occupation: Freelance journalist, travel writer and tour guide
Travel Style: Off the Beaten Track
Her advice to a visiting stranger: I highly recommend visiting Guadeloupe, a breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean island that has been the secret paradise of the Frenchies for years. It was only two years ago that Guadeloupe became more accessible for North American tourists as the low-fares airline Norwegian Air started seasonal flights here from the East Coast of the USA. Now you can get a roundtrip from New York for as low as $200 during the winter!
Once you get there, how expensive is it? Some things are pricey here: lunch is 10 euro at cheapest (like a plate of chicken and rice), though you can get fast food for 5 euro (kebab-style stuffed pita bread, sandwiches, McDonald’s burgers etc). Dinner in a restaurant costs 15-20 euro per plate, so 25 euro if you add a glass of wine. There are Airbnb’s for as little as 20-30 euro per night. Hotels and guesthouses are 50 euro at minimum per night, and go up to 400 euro at the most expensive places. But there are many nice options around 100 euro per night at hotels and very good Airbnb’s for $40-60 per night. Visitors would also probably need a car as there is very little public transport and otherwise you are stuck in one place. So that is another 30-50 euro per day.
That said, certain things are cheap here like wine, French cheese, rum and baguettes. So that helps a lot, you can do a picnic lunch on a beach to avoid eating out in restaurants all the time. Gas costs the same as in Europe, 1.50 euro per liter so almost 6 euro per gallon. But cars are small so most people only spend like 30 euros on gas while seeing most of Guadeloupe. (You can’t see all of it in a week as it’s surprisingly big, but at least some of the main things.)
Must-have: If you do decide to head over here, I highly recommend checking out my new English-language guidebook for Guadeloupe, titled “The Quick Gwada Guide.” This e-book consists of 67 PDF pages, and tells you everything you need to know before embarking on your best vacation ever in “tropical France.” And why is it that I recommend for people to visit Guadeloupe? Well, “Gwada” has more than 250 beaches (with white, gray, yellow and black sands!), big marine turtles, an active volcano, 50+ waterfalls, tons of hiking trails, French-Caribbean cuisine… not to mention that Guadeloupe is actually an archipelago with several inhabited islands, so you can easily spend a few weeks here doing island hopping. On the island of Marie Galante you’ll come across some deserted white sand beaches, and in Les Saintes you can feel the sophisticated vibe of “St. Barth’s 20 years go.” You simply cannot go wrong by heading to Gwada!