Vacation on one of the Caribbean islands is a dream that it is easier and easier to fulfill these days. White sand, blue sky, and crystal clear water tempt us all the year. But when it comes to making a decision which island to choose, we might be confused with the number of possibilities. Even if you decide to choose only one region or country, there is still a question – which island should I choose?
Spending holidays in the French Antilles is a wonderful idea, especially if you are the European Union citizen. But if you cannot decide which one of the wonderful islands to choose – Guadeloupe or Martinique – let me help you! I have spent one month on each of them so I am going to do my best to show you all the pros and cons of those small spots of paradise.
Guadeloupe or Martinique: main similarities
In general, we can say that Guadeloupe and Martinique are very similar to each other. Both lay in the Eastern Caribbean part called the Lesser Antilles. Also, both of them are French overseas departments. And that makes them easily accessible for European citizens.
Because of this fact, they also share some other formal similarities:
Language: French & Antillean Creole
Entrance/Visas for EU citizens: ID card or passport (non-Schengen area); 90 days stay
Entrance/Visas for USA citizens: passport and return ticket (no visa required); 90 days stay
Both islands represent a very similar culture. Whatever you will choose, Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will be able to enjoy the sun, beaches, and jungle in genuinely way. And for sure you will have a perfect vacation.
But in fact, there are some small differences, which you might take into consideration while finding the answer to how to choose the best island.
How to get to Guadeloupe or Martinique?
Most of the airlines offering flights to the French Antilles operates on both islands: the Pointe-à-Pitre airport in Guadeloupe and the Aimé Césaire Airport in Martinique (Fort-de-France).
The most popular departure airport in Europe is Paris Orly, and in USA – Miami. But you can also reach the islands from many other places. Try your most suitable airport with the flight search engine below.
The islands’ vibes
The main thing that you should know about the French Antilles is that each island has its own kind of atmosphere. Martinique is considered a bit more tranquil and mostly covered by small towns inhabited by local people leading their relaxed Caribbean lives.
But on the other hand, most of the tourists coming to Martinique look for a peaceful place to rest and spend a few days in calm surroundings. The best word describing the touristic side of Martinique is the resort.
Guadeloupe seems to be a more lively island. It is also bigger than Martinique, so the urban infrastructure is a bit wider. Also, it is better known for its’ nightlife which according to many locals is greater than on the other islands.
Read more: Go through the ultimate guide to Guadeloupe.
Nevertheless, there is one similarity common for each island. In my opinion, the best town to stay in both of them is Sainte-Anne. I was living in Saint-Anne in Guadeloupe and found this city the most convenient for a living – it was charming and peaceful, and at the same time, it had gorgeous beaches, markets, and nice bus connections with other towns.
In Martinique, the city of Sainte-Anne was also truly lovely. It also had all the necessities, like shops and restaurants, and the beach was delightful.
See the accommodation in Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe:
See the accommodation in Sainte-Anne, Martinique:
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Nature, attractions, and activities
You will for sure enjoy nature and vacation activities like lying on the beach, water sports, trekkings, etc. on both islands. No matter if you will choose Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will still have the opportunity to take trekking in the jungle, climb the volcano, snorkel, find hidden waterfalls, visit rum distillery, and do even more.
But each island has also its own gems which will enrich your holiday time with unique experiences. Below, I listed for you some best of them.
As you can see, there is plenty of unique activities to try on both islands. Whatever you will choose, you will have massive possibilities to fulfill your time with attractions. Here you can read even more:
But there is another thing to consider before making your choice. Martinique is a mostly mountainous island, and it’s in general one piece of land. And Guadeloupe is a bit more diversified. In fact, it consists of two bigger lands – Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre – where the first one is rather flat and covered by fields, while the other one is mountainous and sunken in the jungle. Moreover, around Guadeloupe, there is a few smaller islands spread around which are perfect tourist destinations. So cruises and sailing trips are common attractions on this island.
See tours and activities on Guadeloupe:
See tours and activities on Martinique:
The other important aspect of choosing the right island for you is transportation. The public ways of transportation might be quite confusing at the beginning.
When it comes to buses, I liked much more the connections in Guadeloupe. In Grande-Terre, they were connecting the major cities with one continuous line. In Martinique, the opposite: there were many short-distances lines, that most were even not connected with the island capital, which was a bit inconvenient. So to get to your desired point you needed to use taxi collectif.
So, in general, I recommend renting a car while visiting both islands if your stay is not too long. You will simply save your time on reaching the attractions. And moreover, some of the best spots on both islands are impossible to reach with a bus.
You can also try hitchhiking which is great fun, cause local people, and tourists as well, gladly invite hitchhikers to share the road with them.
What to pack for the Caribbean vacation?
Regardless of which island you’ll choose for your perfect Caribbean holidays, your packing bag will be the same. Here are some most important things to pack:
- Fancy swimsuit!
- Glamurous sunglasses
- Divine cover-ups
- Phone tripod for Instagram-worth selfies
- Reusable cutleries for picnics on the beach
- Waterproof phone case (trust my experience, it’s worth it!)
But there are of course many more essential things you need to pack. I created a special packing list for Caribbean vacation which you can use for this purpose. You’ll find there also a printable version for your comfort!
Guadeloupe or Martinique: which one to choose?
The final decision is your individual choice. Each island has its own wonderful gems, but in fact, no matter which one you will choose, Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will still be happy with your exotic, yet still a bit European vacation.
And actually, there is an option to find a compromise. Between both islands you can find a few airline connections and sea ferries cruising between islands, so why not combine visiting both of them? This alternative is perfect for longer stays, so you will be able to see as many wonders as possible.
So what is your choice? Do you prefer visiting Guadeloupe or Martinique? Comment below!
Read more about those sunny Caribbean islands:
- The ultimate guide to Guadeloupe travel
- Best transport hacks for travelers in Guadeloupe and Martinique
- How to save money for your dream Caribbean vacation?
- 5 great things to visit in Fort-de-France, Martinique
- The Caribbean Packing list – everything you’ll need in your Caribbean vacations
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.