Martinique is a country that has newly hit the radar of many American travelers. The French territory, located in the southern Caribbean, has a huge range of activities and sites to see on this tropical oasis. So below are our top 6 must do activities on Martinique.
Jardin de Balata
This hilltop oasis is one of the most spectacular sites (and views) in Martinique. For only 13 euro (about $15 USD), you can explore the expansive gardens. I didn’t fully grasp how huge they were until I realized that the area extends down the mountain.
The vistas are absolutely exquisite and the flowers are gorgeous. Even though we went in a season when the flowers were not in full bloom, it was still a beautiful site. Various ponds sprinkle the grounds, and the garden cascades down the hillside.
If you are a bit of a daredevil (if you know me you know I avoided this like the plague), you can walk the canopy bridge above the garden, which offers amazing bird’s eye views. It is definitely a site that is not to be missed, as it captures so much of what Martinique is: natural beauty and lush vegetation.
Catamaran Trip with La Creole Cata
Eight hours on a 50-foot catamaran with snorkel stops, a lobster lunch, and unlimited rhum= WINNING!
La Creole Cata is just that. We spent a whole day at sea, with multiple snorkel and beach stops. As we rode the turquoise sea, you could either chill on deck (most of which is covered, which helps when those tropical rain showers hit), or lay out on the nets on the front of the boat.
And the whole time rhum is flowing! And given that there isn’t a weak drink on the island, the drinks were perfect. For lunch we enjoyed one of three food options: chicken, fish, or lobster, served with salad and rice and a delicious creole sauce that the island uses on top of all of its delish dishes. The boat ride was dope, with laughter, drinking, snorkeling and countless photo ops.
Anse Cafard Slave Memorial
This is perhaps one of the most known sites to visit in Martinique. The Slave Memorial at Anse Cafard was a must see for us when we visited the island.
In 1830, a slave ship ran aground of the coast of Martinique. Some slaves survived but 40 died in the crash, shackled in the hull of the boat. This memorial is to honor those 40.
The statues are massive and point towards the sea with their heads bowed and shoulders hunched. It is an interesting site to behold that will likely stir up various emotions at some point while you are there. Take a few minutes to take it in and appreciate the work of Martician sculptor Laurent Valere, who created the monument on the 150 year anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies in 1998.
Dine at Le Marley’s in Sainte Luce
Le Marley’s was le fantastic! Situated right on the beach, this restaurant has its live lobsters in a cage right where you enter, and as you order your meal is weighed and chosen fresh. The food was absolutely excellent, and the drinks (again) were strong. If you want to actually see the ocean, go for lunch, as the chairs are situated right on the sand.
I ordered the lobster prix fixe menu, which included accras (or codfish fritters/beignets), and it was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t even finish it all and opted to skip dessert. Around 7:45 p.m., the restaurant started getting packed but the atmosphere was chilled out. It is definitely a spot not to be missed.
Visit Sainte-Pierre Town
As part of an extensive tour with Karambole Tours (more details on the tour coming soon), we visited the city of Sainte-Pierre, Martinique. This city, which is towards the northwest coast of the island, was completely destroyed in 1902 by a violent eruption of Mt. Pelee. The city is now nestled under the still active volcano, which is closely monitored.
We had a chance to check out the old outdoor theater, which happened to share a wall with the old prison. It is not far from DePaz rhum distillery and a lovely black/grey sand beach.
Hang Out in Trois Illets
Trois Illets is across the bay from Fort de France, the capital of Martinique. A short ferry ride separates the two. Trois Illets is a cute little resort-like village with restaurants, shops, and lounges. There are lovely beaches in the area, along with the dock from which the catamaran tours leave. And the supermarket has inexpensive liquor and other groceries, which is a huge score.
Bonus: Day Trip to St. Lucia
I didn’t get to do this on this trip to Martinique because my trip was too short, but I was struck by how close St. Lucia is to the island. You can actually see St. Lucia from the shores of Martinique. But I have visited St. Lucia and it, too, is an absolutely stunning island. You can hop a high speed ferry from Fort de France or take a flight for a quick day trip. Also, from Sainte Pierre you can catch a ferry to Dominica for a quick day trip.