Best Adventure Islands '08
12 Tickets to Paradise: Guadeloupe
What makes the perfect island? Having it all to yourself. These 12 adventure oases are guaranteed to transport you well beyond the masses.
Text by Meg Lukens Noonan Map by Pietari Posti
Cycle a Pro Circuit
BASE CAMP: La Toubana & Le Jardin Malanga
ACTIVITY: Pedal the challenging Tour de la Guadeloupe—at your own pace.
It's hardly shocking that Tour de France team riders like to spend time on Guadeloupe. After all, the hilly, beach-fringed archipelago is known for its superb creole cuisine and deeply entrenched Gallic soul. What's surprising is that these guys are not here to laze about in their Speedos; they're here to ride.
Guadeloupe is a cyclist's dream: The terrain is challenging but doable, the roads are smooth, and the locals are mad about biking (the country hosts its own international two-week stage race, the Tour de la Guadeloupe, every August). Among the highlights are undulating rides through sweet-smelling sugarcane plantations on the island of Grande-Terre, and tougher pedals on volcanic Basse-Terre, including a thigh-busting climb up 4,813-foot (1,467-meter) La Soufrière. "It's like l'Alpe d'Huez on steroids," says Jeneen Sutherland, who scouted a trip for Toronto-based cycling outfitter Butterfield & Robinson last year.
GAME PLAN: For a do-it-yourself bike tour, warm up on Grande-Terre, staying in one of the 32 Caribbean-view bungalows
of La Toubana, then head to Basse-Terre. There, check in to Le Jardin Malanga, a restored 1927 plantation house. If you're not quite elite peloton material, join Butterfield & Robinson on a weeklong trip.
THE VITALS: La Toubana ($289) and Le Jardin Malanga ($304;
www.deshotelsetdesiles.com). Butterfield & Robinson runs
a trip from November 9 to 15 ($5,995; www.butterfield.com).
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