Swaying palms, crystalline waters, gold, black and even pink-sand beaches – the butterfly-shaped Guadeloupe Islands are home to some of the Caribbean’s most alluring coastlines. It’s two main islands are joined together by a thick mangrove swamp. Grand-Terre is the busiest, and undeniably Guadeloupe’s beating heart. Wander the colourful markets of capital Pointe-à-Pitre and St. Anne, explore the ruins of an old French fort, or grab a surfboard and ride the waves at ‘Le Spot’. Basse-Terre, the western island, is home to Guadeloupe’s national park. Within this lush green space you can find two plunging waterfalls and the towering La Soufrière volcano. Climb its sulfurous, otherworldly slopes with a two-hour hike starting in the town of St. Claude, and take in the panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea from the top. The outer islands of Les Saintes, Marie-Galante and La Désirade offer even more pristine environs. Les Saintes’ Pompierre Beach breathes a quintessentially Caribbean vibe, with white sands and a lagoon backed by tall coconut trees, while Marie-Galante boasts a cluster of sleepy fishing villages and more laid-back beaches. There’s a good variety of accommodation available on Guadeloupe, from hotel resorts to private villas and modest apartments.