Are crowded, loud, and lots of seaweed- filled beaches not your thing? Then the tiny, semi- remote island of
Martinique is the place to go. Whether you are looking for the perfect tan or for a cardio workout, this island is the
place for you. This 430 sq mile island is smaller than the state of Rhode Island but is the place to be if you want to
fill your vacation with fun and the sun. With year- round sun, the average temperature hovers around the high 80s. I visited Martinique with my family in April of 2016 and the temperature was about 90°. The incredible array of activities to do simply amazed me.
General Facts/ Knowledge
Martinique is in the Eastern part of the Caribbean and it lies between Dominica and St. Lucia. Martinique is a department of France and is known as the French Hawaii. The natives of Martinique speak French and Creole, a language mixing French and African dialects, and are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Any person you happen to meet will be more than happy to give you directions to your destination or to simply point you in the right direction. Most of the people know at least a basic form of English so communicating with locals is not as difficult as some may suggest.
The island is extremely mountainous and as a result, roads there are very narrow and are very twisty. From about 6:30 to 9:00 in the morning, traffic is heavy so be sure to plan for it. Lastly, Martinique is in the same time zone as the Northeast but it’s sunrise and sunset are about 2 hours earlier than the Northeast.
The South of Martinique provides tourists with great beaches and days filled with laid- back fun. A great place to stay in the South is Village Creole, a small group of “hotel apartments” for tourists to stay for a few days. Although we had some problems with their service, the people at the desk were extremely helpful. The greatest advantage of Village Creole is it’s location. First, several souvenir shops border it’s premises and there is also a small supermarket and a bakery with great baguettes. More importantly however, it is a 2 to 3 minute walk from two different beaches. Your typical thought of a beach is blown away once you see the beaches in Martinique. Instead of miles of crowded beaches filled with kids, beach towels, and noise, the beaches here are private and small. The first beach we visited was a 2 minute walk from Village Creole and was called Anse Mitan (Anse means beach). It was a beach roughly the length of a couple of football field with a total of about 20 people. The water in Southern Martinique is clear, turquoise, and has very small waves because it borders the Caribbean Sea and not the Atlantic. Another beach that is about a 4 minutes walk from Village Creole is located next to Bakoua Resort. This beach is a series of small lagoons which offer a nice, private spot to swim or even have a picnic. There are several other activities to do in Southern Martinique and some of the activities include; horseback riding, other beaches (Salines Beach is a world renowned beach, located near the town Ste-Anne), and different tours (Many tours start in Fort-de-France, ferries depart every twenty minutes or half hour from a pier near Village Creole (4 min walk)). The South is a great place to lay back and enjoy the sun.
The North is for travelers and vacationers who enjoy a more active vacation. One of the most popular activities in the North is hiking Mt. Pelée, the 10th highest mountain in the Caribbean with a height of just over 4.5 thousand ft. When clouds do not obscure the top of the mountain, views are breathtaking and scenic. Scaling the mountain and coming back down (Starting from viewing platforms) takes about 6 hours so be sure to plan your day according. A legend in Martinique says that if you see the top of the mountain, you will come back to the island of Martinique. In addition to the hike of Mt. Pelée, there are several other beautiful hikes which would be explained more fully by a travel guide. The North also boasts some great beaches, but their waves are more violent and powerful than any of the beaches in the South though the they are still private and quiet. This is due to the fact that much of the North faces the Atlantic Ocean which provides many waves. Some beaches that my family and I visited were Anse Couleuvre, Pointe de l’Anse, and Ilet Madame. Anse Couleuvre was a private beach with black sand and waves that were extremely powerful. A short ten minute hike through an old Rhum distillery will bring you to the beach. Be aware that this beach is not for kids as the waves have a tremendous amount of power. Another beach was Pointe de l’Anse. This beach is located in the tourist location of the island and as a result, they are more crowded and less private. This location is also a popular place for surfers and a nice hotel nerarby to stay at was Résidence Océane. Many short walking trails are available in this section of the island. Lastly, we visited Ilet Madame which is located on a small island near the town of Le Robert. There, we rented a half-day sailboat excursion with a small, one-women crew, company named Danebola. We sailed, tried exotic juices, and learned about Martinique’s history, government, and most importantly, marine life. At the mid- point, we arrived at our destination, a tiny island with an incredible beach and extraordinary snorkeling. I highly recommend it as a both educational and relaxing day trip. The North is an amazing place to explore the beautiful island of Martinique.