The Guadeloupe Islands
An overseas region of France, The Guadeloupe Islands are an archipelago covering some 630 square miles and made up of five main islands. A bridge connects the two most populated ones, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, while Marie-Galante, Les Saintes (actually a miniature archipelago of its own), and La Désirade are accessed via ferry. With the Caribbean to the west and the Atlantic to the east, these dreamy islands boast multicolored beaches, thick forests, hundreds of waterfalls, rugged bluffs, and offshore coral reefs. Grande-Terre is the main entry point and tourism hub, while Basse-Terre is home to Guadeloupe National Park and its active La Grande Soufrière volcano. Les Saintes melds French sophistication with a Caribbean rhythm, and has upscale shopping and dining to match its natural beauty.