Guadeloupe Islands: Pristine beaches – Don't like being hassled by beach vendors? You won't be in Guadeloupe, with 200-plus public beaches that stand out for their natural state and lack of salesmen or towering resorts.
Marie-Galante rum – Guadeloupe's best rum is produced on Marie-Galante. Dotted with sugar cane, oxcarts and ancient windmills, it's home to three award-winning distilleries -- Bellevue, Bieille and Poisson.
Les Saintes – Hugging the bay of Anse du Bourg, Les Saintes archipelago is Guadeloupe's most prized possession. Inhabited Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas are a perfect blend of the old Caribbean and southern France.
Ti' Punch – Deceptively called "small" punch in French Creole, the potent national drink mixes a teaspoon of brown sugar with fresh lime, topped with white rum and stirred with a sugar cane stick.
Inns and villas – Mega-resorts have yet to reach Guadeloupe. Aside from Club Med on Grande-Terre, locally run hotels, inns, apartments or villas dominate. Beach and sea views remain unobstructed, by law.
Striking sunsets – Popular sunset spots: St. Anne Beach on Grande-Terre, dotted with seafront cafes; Basse-Terre, against a mountainous backdrop; Les Saintes' with views over surrounding islets.
Pointe des Châteaux – With dramatic cliffs surrounding a white sand beach, one of Guadeloupe Islands' most striking landscapes is reminiscent of the Mediterranean.
Guadeloupe National Park – The park's 54,000 acres cover rainforest, mangrove and coral reefs. The crown is La Soufrière, an active volcano that's home to 800 species of flora and fauna.
Underwater haven – Guadeloupe lives up to its Carib Indian name Karukera, or "island of beautiful waters." The most renowned dive spot is the Jacques Cousteau Reserve, a 988-acre protected area off the coast of Basse-Terre.
Waterfalls – Guadeloupe National Park has more than 100 waterfalls. The most spectacular may be Les Chutes du Carbet, a series of three waterfalls reaching 360 feet.
Markets – Colorful spices compete with bottles of homemade fruit rum punch, bright as a painter's palette. On Grande-Terre, St. Anne's beachfront market is a local favorite.
Historic forts – Guadeloupe is dotted with ancient forts -- remnants of a colonial tugs of war between the French and British.
Botanical gardens – Jardin Botanique de Deshaies is a 12-acre park with more than 200 species of plants and trees, orchids, fish, lily ponds and flamingos.
French Creole cuisine – Guadeloupe's cuisine is a mélange of Indian, African and European influences. Meals often begin with cod fritters followed fresh seafood in spiced tomato stews, curries and stuffed vegetables.
Shopping – A row of 15 boutiques in St. Anne, the Village Artisanal carries a selection of hand woven beachwear and woodcarvings. Contemporary fashion also thrives -- after all, this is French territory.