Banks -- Banks on Guadeloupe are usually open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, but in recent years, some, but not all, as a means of coordinating their hours with those of their clients, have begun operating Monday to Friday 8am to noon and 2 to 3:30pm. There are about a dozen banks in Pointe-à-Pitre, most with ATMs (they're called distributeurs des billets).
Currency -- Because the territory of Guadeloupe falls under the same monetary system as mainland France, the island uses the euro (€) as its mode of exchange. The current rate of exchange is 1€ to US$1.42. Prices in this chapter are quoted in euros.
Customs -- Items for personal use, such as tobacco, cameras, and film, are admitted without formalities or tax.
Documents -- U.S., British, or Canadian residents need a passport, plus a return or ongoing plane ticket.
Electricity -- The local electricity is 220-volt AC (50 cycles), which means that U.S.-made appliances will need a transformer and an adapter. Some of the big resorts may lend these to guests, but don't count on it.
Emergencies -- Call the police at tel. 17. To report a fire or summon an ambulance, dial tel. 18. For medical emergencies, dial tel. 15.
Hospitals -- There are five modern hospitals on Guadeloupe, plus about two dozen clinics. Hotels and the Guadeloupe tourist office can assist in locating English-speaking doctors. A 24-hour emergency room is at the Centre Hôpitalier Universitaire de Pointe-à-Pitre, Abymes (tel. 590/89-10-10), on the northern fringe of Pointe-à-Pitre; for emergency services here, dial tel. 15.
Language -- The official language is French; Creole is the unofficial second language. English is spoken only in the major tourist centers, rarely in the countryside.
Liquor Laws -- Liquor is sold in grocery and liquor stores on any day of the week. It's legal to have an open container, though the authorities are very strict about littering, disorderly behavior, and drunk driving.
Pharmacies -- The pharmacies carry French medicines, and most over-the-counter U.S. drugs have French equivalents. Prescribed medicines can be purchased if you have the prescription with you. At least one drugstore is always open; the tourist office can tell you what pharmacies are open at what time.
Police -- In an emergency, call tel. 17. Otherwise, call tel. 590/89-77-17.
Safety -- Guadeloupe is relatively free of serious crime. But don't go wandering alone at night on the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre; by nightfall they are relatively deserted and might be dangerous. Purse-snatching by fast-riding motorcyclists has been reported, so exercise caution.
Taxes -- A departure tax, required on scheduled flights, is included in the airfares. Hotel taxes are included in all room rates.
Telephone -- To call Guadeloupe from the United States, dial 011 (the international access code), then 590 (the country code for Guadeloupe), then 590 again and the rest of the local number, which will be six digits. If you want to call another island of the French Antilles, be aware that St. Barts, French St. Martin, and offshore dependencies of Guadeloupe such as Ile des Saints or La Désirade are all directly linked to the phone network of Guadeloupe. Consequently, no telephone prefix is required, and you can dial any of those islands simply by dialing the six-digit local phone number. But if you're on Guadeloupe and want to dial someone in Martinique, you'll have to punch in the prefix for Martinique (0596), followed by the six-digit local number.
Time -- Guadeloupe is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (when it's 6am in New York, it's 7am on Guadeloupe). When daylight saving time is in effect in the U.S., clocks in New York and Guadeloupe show the same time.
Tipping -- Hotels usually add a 10% to 15% service charge. Restaurants always add a 15% service charge, and no additional tip is needed. Most taxi drivers who own their own cars do not expect a tip; if they've been especially helpful with your luggage, you might give them an additional 10%.
Water -- While on Guadeloupe, stick to bottled water only.
Weather -- The average temperature in Guadeloupe is 82°F (28°C) in summer, dropping to an average of 76°F (24°C) in winter. The rainiest months are between June and October.
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.