Martinique is a Caribbean island that is part of the Lesser Antilles. Its shores are met in the West by the Caribbean Sea and in the East by the Atlantic Ocean and its neighbors, St.Lucia and Dominica, are close enough so that you can see them on a sunny day.
The island’s culture reflects a distinctive blend of French and Caribbean influences and its population is diverse. This diversity results from the mixing of the way of settlement of the island, in relation to history and colonization: Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, Indians, Levantines and Asians.
Its heritage of craftsmanship, its rich literature of renowned writers and great poets, music and dance as well as gastronomy make Martinique a land of tradition and culture.
The island has a lot to offer and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the lucky people that will soon be flying into this paradisiac island and you’re likely wondering what to do in Martinique. In this article, we discuss unique things that Martinique offers with a list of the top 10 things to do on your vacation:
1. Visit Fort de France
No trip to the Martinique is complete without a visit to Fort de France, Martinique’s capital and the island’s main port. It is renowned for its colonial architecture, historical monuments and beautiful white sandy beaches. The city offers a full range of restaurants, museums, shops and experiences to keep you entertained.
While you’re there, make sure to visit the Fort St-Louis, the Schoelcher library and the St-Louis Cathedral. You will also enjoy exploring the Grand Marché and taking a walk at ‘’La Française’’ beach.
2. Take a drive on Route de la Trace
It is in the heart of the rainforest that this road winds for about forty kilometers, just at the exit of the city of Fort-de-France to Ajoupa-Bouillon. This scenic road is filled with vegetation such as tree ferns, balisiers, bamboos, giant trees and lianas. While you’re enjoying the ride on this road, there are also a few stops you won’t want to miss such as the Balata Cathedral and the Balata Botanical Gardens.
3. Discover the Jardin de Balata
The Balata Botanical Gardens are a short 10 km drive away from Fort de France and are a must see on your trip to Martinique. Founded in 1982 by Jean-Philippe Thoze, the Jardin de Balata extends over around two hectares and contains an amazing range of tropical flora.
Enjoy a pleasant walk with magnificent views and discover hundreds of species of palm trees and exotic flowers. In addition to this, the botanical garden has suspended bridges hanging from giant mahoganys. This attraction offers a beautiful overview of the botanical garden and allows you to live unforgettable moments at the treetops!
4. Explore Saint-Pierre
Saint-Pierre, also known as the Paris of the Caribbean, used to be Martinique’s capital but after Mount Pelée erupted in 1902, the city was destroyed and 30,000 people were killed. After this tragedy, the city was never fully restored to its original state. Nevertheless, today, Saint-Pierre is a great destination with many things to explore.
A trip to the city will allow you to learn more about the island’s history and to discover the remains of the great era of the city such as the old theater, the ruins of the fort and the dungeon of Cyparis - the prisoner who survived the volcanic eruption. If you want to learn more about the volcanic eruption, you’ll want to visit the Volcanological Museum.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, many hikes are available from St Pierre. In this small and wonderful fishing village, you should explore what nature has to offer such as the black sandy beaches and impressive waterfalls. Also, make sure to try some local delicacies such as the cod fritters and stuffed crabs!
5. Visit Le Carbet
Le Carbet is a charming town located between Saint-Pierre and Bellefontaine. It is famous because it’s known as the place where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502 on his last trip. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Martinique Zoo, which is located in a former sugar factory, as well as the slave canal and the Paul Gauguin Interpretation Centre.
6. Go on an excursion to the Diamond Rock (Le Diamant)
The Diamond rock is a remnant of the volcanic activity of Martinique, whose shape, approximating the famous jewel that is the diamond, earned it its name. The rock is a real refuge for some species such as ‘’La Couresse’’, a species of snake which today is only found there. It is also home to many bird species, some of which are on the verge of extinction.
Although it is now forbidden to dock or climb its walls, there are alternative ways to visit the island. You can take a boat ride and get closer to the island to gaze at its flora and fauna and take beautiful photos but you can also go scuba diving. If you want to treat yourself, helicopter tours are also available.
7. Go to Saint-Anne
Saint-Anne has a lot to offer and is very appreciated by tourists. One of the main reasons you should visit Saint-Anne is to go to the iconic beach of Les Salines. Les Salines is a breathtaking white sand beach, which stretches for more than one kilometer, and offers great relaxing views over the calm turquoise waters of the sea.
Apart from relaxing on sandy beaches, while you’re in Saint-Anne used to be, as well as the Martinique Regional Nature Park.
8. Hike around the Caravelle Peninsula
There’s nothing better than a beautiful hike with breathtaking viewpoints. Caravelle peninsula is a protected land located on the southern coastline of La Trinité, which offers a wild diversity of landscapes ranging from banana plantations, dry forests, tropical forests to mangroves and sheltered beaches.
While you’re there make sure to also visit the pleasant fishing village of Tartane where vendors sell fresh seafood.
9. Grand’ Rivière
Grand’ Rivière is the smallest municipality of Martinique. This small fishing village is hidden between vertiginous cliffs, the sea and the Pelée mountain. Despite its isolation, this little corner of paradise has kept all of its authenticity.
Narrow streets, colorful boats and pretty houses are part of the charm of Grand' Rivière. During your visit, you will enjoy visiting the old distillery of Habitation Beauséjour as well as the remains of Habitations Fond Moulin and Malakoff, which produced cocoa and coffee.
10. Discover La Savane des Esclaves
La Savane des Esclaves is a small village created by Gilbert Larose in a beautiful park located in Trois Ilets. In this village you will find a large carbet built according to tradition with a roof made of sugarcane leaves as well traditional huts and a garden with medicinal plants and fruits and vegetables.
During your visit, you will be able to learn more about Martinique’s ancestral traditions: how they pressed the sugarcanes to extract juice, how they made cocoa sticks and cassava flour, etc.