Blue marlin, wahoo (known locally as thazar), and yellowfin tuna can be fished throughout the year; the season for dorado (mahimahi) is limited to November to May. Hotels can usually recommend a deep-sea outfitter or two. A well-recommended outfitter is Le Manolo (tel. 590/90-75-49), who's usually moored offshore the Plage de Malendure, but who moves his craft to various ports on Guadeloupe and its offshore dependencies, depending on the tides, the season, and business. For a "very full" half-day experience at big game fishing, with a departure at 7:30am and a return scheduled for around 3pm, he charges 120€ per person, with all equipment included, minimum three passengers.
Guadeloupe's only golf course is the well-known Golf de St-François ★★, avenue de l'Europe, 97110 St-François (tel. 590/88-41-87), opposite the Le Kalenda Resort. The course runs alongside a 320-hectare (791-acre) lagoon where windsurfing, water-skiing, and sailing prevail. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., it's a challenging 6,755-yard, par-71 course, with water traps on 6 of the 18 holes, not to mention massive bunkers, prevailing trade winds, and a particularly fiendish 400-yard, par-4 9th hole. The par-5 6th is the toughest hole on the course; its 450 yards must be negotiated in the constant easterly winds. Greens fees are 40€ per day per person. You can rent clubs for 15€ a day; an electric cart costs 36€ for 18 holes. Hours are daily from 7:30am to 6:30pm.
The 30,000-hectare (74,132-acre) Parc Naturel de Guadeloupe (tel. 590/80-86-00) contains some of the best hiking trails in the Caribbean. The 290km (180 miles) of trails cut through the deep foliage of rainforest, passing waterfalls and cool mountain pools, hot springs, and rugged gorges along the way. The big excursion country, of course, is around the volcano, La Soufrière. Another highlight is Les Chutes du Carbet, one of the tallest waterfalls in the Caribbean, with a drop of 240m (787 ft.). More details are available in the notes on the Windward Coast near the end of "Around Basse-Terre," earlier in this chapter.
Hiking brochures are available from the tourist office. Hotel tour desks can make arrangements. For information about this and other hikes in the national park, contact Organisation des Guides de Montagne de la Caraïbe, Maison Forestière, Matouba (tel. 590/92-06-10).
Warning: Hikers may experience heavy downpours. The annual precipitation on the higher slopes is 6.3m (248 in.) per year, so be prepared with rain gear.
Guadeloupe is more popular for scuba diving than any other French-speaking island. The allure is the relatively calm seas and La Réserve Cousteau, a national park where the underwater environment is rigidly protected. Jacques Cousteau once described the waters off Guadeloupe's Pigeon Island as "one of the world's 10 best diving spots." Sergeant majors become visible at a depth of 9m (30 ft.); spiny sea urchins and green parrotfish at 18m (59 ft.); and magnificent stands of finger, black, brain, and star coral at 24m (79 ft.).
The most popular dive sites include Aquarium, Piscine, Jardin de Corail, Pointe Carrangue, Pointe Barracuda, and Jardin Japonais. Although scattered around the periphery of the island, many are in the bay of Petit Cul-de-Sac Marin, south of Rivière Salée, the channel that separates the two halves of Guadeloupe. North of the Salée is another bay, Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, where the small islets of Fajou and Caret also boast fine diving.
Reacting to the rich diversity of underwater flora and fauna, which thrive at relatively shallow -- and relatively safe -- depths, several entrepreneurs have set up shop. One of these is Les Heures Saines, Rocher de Malendure, Bouillante (tel. 590/98-86-63; www.heures-saines.gp), whose trio of dive boats departs two times a day at 10am and 2:30pm, for explorations of the waters within the reserve. With all equipment included, dives -- depending on the level of expertise of the participants and the intended destination -- cost from 45€ each. Novices, at least for the very first time they engage in the sport, pay 50€ for what is referred to as a baptème (baptism).
Les Heures Saines maintains its own 13-unit hotel, Le Paradis Creole (tel. 590/98-71-62; www.guadeloupe-hotel.net). Here simple motel-style accommodations rent for 80€ in winter and 60€ off season. All have either air-conditioning or ceiling fans, but no TV or phone, and very few frills. Many of them are occupied almost exclusively by avid divers and, to a lesser degree, hill climbers, on tour-group holiday from the French mainland.
This outfit's slightly larger competitor, located a short distance away, is Centre International de la Plongée (C.I.P. Bouillante), Lieu-Dit Poirier, Malendure Plage, Pigeon, 97125 Bouillante (tel. 590/98-81-72; www.cip-guadeloupe.com). It's acknowledged as the most professional dive operation on the island. In a wood-sided house on Malendure Plage, close to a well-known restaurant, Chez Loulouse, it's well positioned at the edge of the Cousteau Underwater Reserve. Certified divers pay 31€ for a one-tank dive. A "resort course" for first-time divers costs 46€ and is conducted one-on-one with an instructor. Packages of four dives are offered for 136€; PADI open-water certification costs 515€. It's usually awarded as part of an 8-day instruction ritual, but in a pinch, if its participants are extremely motivated, it can be passed in 3 days if you communicate your wishes and ambitions in advance.
For an intensive immersion in the sport, consider enrolling (along with lots of like-minded aficionados) in one of the windsurfing programs at UCPA (Union des Centres de Plein-Air), 97118 St-François (tel. 590/99-54-94; www.ucpa.com). This organization devoted to outdoor warm-weather sports has its own hotel-style bungalows, each of them beach-fronting affairs built in 1986, set close to a swimming pool and dining hall. They all contain simple and durable furniture and ceiling fans, but none have TVs, phones, air-conditioning, or any other grace notes. If you're already an experienced windsurfer, you can always drop in for a practice run -- windsurfers rent for 30€ for a half-day -- but participants are encouraged to remain on-site for between 5 and 7 days, buying sports packages whose arithmetic makes each individual session cost a lot less. With half-board included, per-person rates, double occupancy, cost from 380€ to 450€ per week. Packages can be built around windsurfing, surfing, kite surfing, and golf.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.