Let’s suppose you already booked your flights to the Caribbean and found a cozy hotel to stay in. You also know the best attractions to see in the island. Now let me show you some practical tips about using local public transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique. They will make your trip much more effective!
The French Antilles are great mix of the Caribbean chill and the European culture. That’s why they might be a great holiday option for people traveling from the Old Continent.
Getting to the French Antilles in the Caribbean is relatively simple from Europe. It’s easy to find some nice direct flights from Paris to both, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The flight is comfortable and takes less than 9 hours.
But if it comes to transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique, that was the
And remember to download my cheatsheet with all of the costs of traveling to the French Antilles! I wrote down every penny that I spend and now you can a look on those expenses. Click below to download.
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Transport possibilities in Guadeloupe and Martinique
While getting to the Caribbean is rather simple, moving around there could cause a headache. Especially if you do not rent a car for your whole stay.
In general, we cannot compare Martinique to Guadeloupe that much if it comes to transport. The islands are similar in this regard. If you still hesitate which island to choose, let me help you with this comparison.
But coming back to the topic. We tried different ways of transportation on the islands during our two-month trip, so let’s take a look at them.
To communicate between islands there are a few ways and one of them is aircraft.
The airlines operating in French Antilles are Air France, Air Antilles, and Air Caraïbes. Their prices start at 68 EUR for one way ticket with hand luggage.
You can find your best option in different flight search engines, like Skyscanner for example. By clicking below you can check available flight for your preferred dates.
Want to know how to pack your Caribbean bag in hand luggage only? Check out the post about what I packed for two months of Caribbean adventure.
Ferries are very popular in the Caribbean islands if it comes to transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
A few different lines are available to get from Guadeloupe to Martinique by ferry, like L’Express des îles or Val’Ferry. They operate the ferries going to the Guadeloupian islands, like Marie-Galante or La Désirade and also to other departments like Martinique and countries like Dominica or Sainte Lucie. Current prices start from 40 EUR for one way trip with Martinique to Guadeloupe ferry.
Local ferries in Fort-de-France, Martinique
In Martinique, you can find some local small ferries, called vedettes.
They cruise for example between Fort-de-France and Trois-
One way ticket costs around 5 EUR, and a two ways ticket – 7 EUR. In Fort-de-France, their terminal is located next to the main bus and taxis
We tried to travel on a low budget in the Caribbean, and even if the transport in Guadeloupe has few possibilities, sometimes you just don’t have another option than take a standard taxi. Especially when you’re coming to the island late at night.
We landed after 7 PM. Which was way too late for local buses in Guadeloupe. They simply end their routes at that time. So at the airport, we didn’t have another option than take a taxi to our rented apartment.
Like everywhere, taxis waiting for tourists at the airport could be much more expensive than in other places. Luckily, we knew about it, so we were looking for another option. Fortunately, the owner of an apartment that we rented recommended his well-known taxi driver and gave us his phone number. We texted him a few days before and he picked us up at a set time from the airport.
For two-person transit from the airport to
TRAVEL TIP: When you land in a new place and taxi is a must, try to reach your hotel/apartment owner a few days before and ask for a trusted taxi driver. Probably his rates will be lower than directly at the airport.
Taxi in Martinique a very popular way of transportations. But I am talking not about standard taxis but taxi collectif.
A lot of local people use it daily to move between cities. Distances in Martinique are not so huge. You can actually drive through the whole island in around 2 hours by car. But different parts of Martinique do not have their own bus networks, so local taxi drivers created their own kind of service.
The taxi destination is usually written on a board behind the front window pane. You can take a seat in a car and simply ask a driver to drop you off anywhere on the road going to his destination.
You can find taxis
The taxis collectifs are usually 7- or 9-person vans and they do not have any time schedule. Taxi driver simply waits until all seats will be occupied. When it will happen, he will start the journey.
Taxi drivers are also much flexible. When we came with a ferry to Martinique, it was Saturday after 4 PM. During weekdays the main station will be full of taxis. But on weekends the chances to catch a taxi
A standard journey from Fort-de-France to Vauclin costs around 5-6 EUR per person. Maybe it could be cheaper with a bus. But only if you will find a bus.
TRAVEL TIP: When you are going to take a taxi
Buses in French islands exist. Sometimes on the Internet, you can find information, that it is really hard to travel by bus as transport in Guadeloupe or Martinique. But this is only half true. Both Guadeloupe and Martinique implemented new bus lines during the last years. But using them is kind of specific and a little bit different, that what we know from continental Europe.
Buses in Guadeloupe
Traveling by bus in Guadeloupe is a great experience in a few dimensions. Some of the bus drivers treat the bus public space as their own and actually, some of the buses are private. So drivers feel there very comfortable and let themselves express their musical preferences. In each bus, you can listen to different music, which is really pleasant during a journey.
But let’s get more practical. In Grande-Terre, the Eastern part of Guadeloupe, there is a quite well-developed bus operator – Karu’lis. And this is quite well-checked transport in Guadeloupe. On their website, you can even find time schedules! Their line S1, which we used the most, goes from Pointe-à-Pitre do Saint-François, so through the whole South shore of Grande-Terre, passing by Gosier and Sainte-Anne. Unfortunately, with Karu’lis we were not able to get to Basse-Terre to see all the jungle wonders like Les Chute du Carbet or the volcano La Soufrière.
Read more: 9 most amazing things to do in Guadeloupe!
The Karu’lis ticket price depends on the zones to which you want to go. For example, a single way ticket from Sainte-Anne to Saint-François costs 1,20 EUR. Pointe-à-Pitre is much further, the ticket will cost already 3 EUR. The zones and their boundaries you can find in Karu’lis official website, which is really nice and understandable.
Regarding other buses, also routing in Basse-Terre, most of them are independent. Unlike Karu’lis, which has new and modern vehicles, independent buses are rather elderly, but still in good condition. The music there is even louder. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any timetables on the Internet. The only information was where the main bus stations are located and what destination buses take. Since those buses are private, you actually never know when the bus will come.
Secretive timetable and Caribbean ease
More or less public transport in Guadeloupe looks like this: if the driver would like to work on that day, he would. If he doesn’t want to, he will stay at home. The same rule works for timetables. Regarding independent buses, you never know when (and if) it will come.
With Karu’lis it’s a little bit easier. Since they try to be a modern service, they try to keep to the schedule. But here is another surprise. On the Internet, you can find more or less correct timetables. But in the terrain, there is no timetable in the bus stops. There, you can only find the information where is the first and the last course during a day. People simply come to the bus stop and wait.
In the beginning, it was a little bit nervous situation for us, because until this trip we were (almost, still remember Tenerife) only traveling in places where we exactly knew when the bus will come. But after a few days, we simply get used to this. The main worry was not to come too late for a bus stop. Then relax in the sun and wait thinking about nothing. That was even pleasant sometimes.
Buses in Martinique
Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, made a really nice impression on us. Better than Pointe-à-Pitre. And it’s public transport also deserves a big recommendation. Their buses and trams operator did a really nice job. Mozaïk has a really well-developed network in the whole Fort-de-France area, including some nearby cities and the airport. You can find the actual map of their routes on their official website.
But since we were living on the Easter coast of Martinique, and were traveling mostly in the Southern part of the islands, we didn’t have opportunities to catch any of Mozaïk’s buses. Actually, Southern Martinique has its own bus network – Sudlib. It works for only a few years, so the buses are modern and the website is very understandable.
But unfortunately, there are not many lines that go for long distances like Karu’lis in Guadeloupe. For example, to go to a beautiful beach Grande Anse des Salines from Vauclin, where we were living, we needed to take three buses one way. And each of them costs around 2 EUR. So round-trip might be quite expensive. And it’s only 20 kilometers. And it takes around 1,5 hour if you are really lucky and the bus will not be late. And the chances for that are small.
We didn’t manage to take the mentioned trip when we tried it for the first time. We stuck in Le Marin, when we missed the bus, because… the bus stop was not marked.
And this is how our adventure with Martinique buses ended up.
But then we switched to hitchhiking for the rest of the month saving around 214 euros in total.
There is plenty of possibilities of car rental in the French Antilles and it is quite popular transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique. We found there both big international companies and small independent offices. In our situation, when we were staying in Guadeloupe and Martinique one month in each, there was no option to rent a car for such a long period. So we decided to rent a car only for 4 intense days of hanging around the island.
We wanted to include full insurance in our rental. Unfortunately, on the Internet, we couldn’t find any local agency who would propose it. So we decided to choose a popular international company, buy full insurance and not to worry about anything.
That was the first time when I rented a car for my own name and supposed to be the main driver. I was a little bit stressing, but in the end, everything was fine. We received a brand new Kia Picanto, with only 180 kilometers of mileage. It was smelling novelty and even still had some protective foils inside.
We booked it one day before rental, in a total price of 106 EUR (full insurance included) for 4 days + a return on fifth day morning. But that was a good investment since in another way we would not be able to see Basse-Terre region.
The only inconvenience was that we must pay a deposit which we wanted to avoid. Since we bought the full insurance I thought we didn’t need to pay any kind of deposit, but unfortunately, we must. Luckily, the money came back after less than 3 weeks.
Carfully – an option for Airbnb’s lovers
While looking for a car rental I found a very interesting option, which I heard is quite popular in the islands. The service’s name is
I found this solution really great and even tried to rent a car via the Carfully website. Unfortunately, like on Airbnb, you need to wait for the car owner to approve your rental. In my case, contact with a woman who owned the car that I wanted to rent was too slow, and we… Well, we were renting for the last moment, so we wanted to do it faster.
The other inconvenience is the lack of full insurance option. I didn’t want to stress so much about each scratch on the car.
To be honest, hitchhiking in Martinique was our first experience with this kind of moving around. And we were really
I read before, that hitchhiking, or autostop, is very popular in the islands. And in fact, we saw a lot of people doing it, even in Guadeloupe. So that day we tried it too and… we didn’t wait more than 5 minutes when a kind French woman picked us up. She was so nice that even drove us further that we wanted to go because she recommended us a better place than our original plan. On that day we loved this way of communication and started to use it regularly.
Why hitchhiking was such a great adventure?
- We had much more contact with locals, who usually were interested in what we were doing in Martinique. And they knew a lot about the island. So we get a lot of recommendations about where to go and what to see. That was very useful.
- From locals, we also get to know why our beach in Le Vauclin is not a dream beach anymore. They all say it’s a Brasil’s fault, but actually, after a quick research on the Internet, I think no one is free of guilt. Sargassum, which is a kind of algae, covers beaches of Eastern shore in Martinique. Most probably, they are coming from the Sargasso Sea because of currents, that changed their directions last years due to climate change. While laying on the beach, sargassum starts to decay and produce an unpleasant smell and probably some toxic gases, which is bad news for asthmatics and local tourism. Because of that, we were in Vauclin’s beach – Pointe Faula – only twice during the whole month.
- We could listen to the hottest hits from the Caribbean while traveling with young local guys.
- We could go much further than with the bus. Lots of people were so kind that they took a few kilometers more just to pick us off safely in our destination.
- We saved money. A lot of money. After counting how much we would spend on buses, I figured out that we saved at least 214,00 euros on bus tickets. That’s really amazing and I am so grateful to all the people that drove us even a little bit. For them, it was a nice chat during a ride, for us, in total – huge saving.
Wanna know all of the costs of our trip to the Caribbean? Download my financial report by clicking below!
Wanna know the complete
costs of traveling to
Grab my free financial report!
Transport in Guadeloupe & Martinique – not that bad as they say
In the end, I can say that it is much easier to visit French Antilles by renting a car. That’s the simplest way, but not the only one.
If you get used to waiting for a bus in Guadeloupe or looking for taxis
And you will find out that the transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique is not so bad. Locals travel this way, so you will be able to do the same.
And what are your experiences with public transport in Martinique and Guadeloupe? Leave a comment below!
Learn more about Guadeloupe and Martinique:
- Guadeloupe hotels worth considering while planning the Caribbean trip
- 9 Best Martinique Resorts: the Pick of Most Fabulous Stays on the Island
- The ultimate guide to Guadeloupe
- List of food, sweets, and drinks you must try in the French Antilles
- What to pack for the Caribbean trip?
- How to save money for your dream Caribbean holidays?
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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.