Guadeloupe boasts a blend of French and African influences that are inherently Caribbean yet enjoys a fully modern infrastructure that marks it out from its regional neighbours. A taste of the sugar and rum produced here or a flavour of the islands' Creole culture and you'll be in no doubt where you are though.
A mangrove swamp joins the two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre, yet they remain quite different. Whilst Grand-Terre has a string of beach towns offering visitors access to stretches of sand and lots of water sports, Basse-Terre is home to swathes of rainforest and a large national park, dominated by the brooding La Soufriere volcano, and is ideal for walking and diving; find the submerged statue of Jacques Cousteau off Pigeon Island in the Jacques Cousteau underwater marine reserve.
Seven other islands make up the rest of the archipelago. They have their own identity and distinct character, from the uncrowded beaches and unspoilt scenery of La Desirade and Marie-Galante to the more cosmopolitan delights of Terre-de-Haut, which also has an impressive nineteenth century fort.