Guadeloupe & islands (France) (including
St.-Martin and St.-Barthélemy)
(Figures above are latest figures for 1997, except as noted.)
Land area: 1,373 sq km.
Tourist arrivals by air:
660,000 (+5.6% on prev. yr.)
Tourist arrivals by cruise ship:
470,054 (-20.3% on prev. yr.)
Total Tourist Expenditures:
$371.5 million USD.
Tourism Budget: $4.5
GDP at factor cost: Not
1994 figures on whale watching:
1998 figures on whale watching:
400 people and total revenues of at least $22,000 USD.
Whale-watching ports (current or potential):
Bouillante, Guadeloupe; Gustavia, St Barths.
Land-based viewing sites:
west coast of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe.
Moderate (St.-Barths) to considerable (Guadeloupe); minimal (St.-Martin).
Guadeloupe, a French overseas department,
consists of seven main islands: Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre form the main part
of Guadeloupe. Nearby, to the south and east, are Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, and La
Désirade. Some distance to the northwest are St.-Barthélemy, 125 miles (200 km) away, and
St.-Martin, 145 miles (233 km) away, both of which are considered dependencies of
Guadeloupe. Martinique, also part of the French West Indies, is dealt with in a separate section.
From Guadeloupe, a fisherman's cooperative in the
fishing town of Le Moule on the Atlantic coast of Grande-Terre began a pilot
project on whale watching in 1994. The plan was to offer trips from November to April,
using 22- to 25-foot (7-8 m) 'yoles' with twin outboards, the local fishing boats. The day
trips offered the near certainty of dolphins within the offshore barrier reef which forms a
protected lagoon. As well, possible sightings included sperm whales, pygmy sperm whales,
humpback whales and pilot whales. Despite support from the town, the trips have not really
taken off. In April 1998, whale watching on a 38-passenger
catamaran began from Basse- Terre, the western wing of the Guadeloupe
butterfly. The whale watching has included sperm whales, pilot whales and spotted dolphins,
although common and probably spinner dolphins may also sometimes be seen. The whale
watch runs from a highly regarded dive centre popular with English speakers called 'Les
Heures Saines'. It's located in Malendure which is 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Bouillante;
this is in the Réserve Cousteau area, located at Pigeon Island a half mile (1 km) off the west
coast of Basse-Terre. This is the top diving spot in Guadeloupe, so the whale watching has
received a lot of publicity. The whale watch guides (who are also working on turtle
conservation) are Caroline and Renato Rinaldi and their group is called Evasion
Tropicale. The trips cost 200 FF for adults, with discounts for families. In 1998, approximately
400 persons went on the 10 tours that were offered, and the prospects for 1999 seem very
good indeed. In 1999, the operator Les Heures Saines began offering one trip a week
itself, with Evasion Tropicale providing the naturalists.
If these tours are successful, there are other
Basse-Terre towns which might support further development of whale watching
including Bouillante itself, Pointe-à-Pitre, and Trois Rivières, among other ports on the
leeward (west) coast. Land-based whale watching may also be possible from the many
excellent high vantages along the west coast of Basse-Terre.