Martinique is a beautiful country with a unique culture and history. But driving can be a…challenge, to put it mildly. Between the scarcity of automatic vehicles (I don’t drive stick) and the, shall we say, veracity and technique of Martinique drivers, driving in the country was high on our priority list. Yet in order to view the island to the fullest, you need a car because cabs are exorbitant. Enter Karambole Tours.
Karambole Tours offers several tours to give visitors the heart of Martinique. The owner, Christelle, is bilingual offering English, French or English and French combo tours. Karambole is new, just beginning tours in November, but it is clear that Christelle cares deeply about the island and wants others to see its beauty. And she is super talented; she narrates back and forth between English and French with ease and finesse.
Pile et Face Tour
We did the Pile et Face Tour, which made several stops and covered a large portion of the island. And along the way we had delicious pastries along the way.
Our first stop was the Sacred Heart Montmartre de Balata Church. Look familiar? If you have been to Paris, this one you may recognize as a replica of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This beautiful structure is hilltop and features absolutely stunning architecture.
But the real joy is inside. The alter and stained glass was beautiful. The high ceilings and the dome were magnificent. Around the dome at the top had an amazing level of detail, and even though I don’t speak French, I could instantly tell that at the four corners were depictions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Absolutely beautiful.
But before taking in the church, Christelle offered some history, along with tumeric bread with souskay and banana wine.
Martinique is an extremely lush island, with dense rainforests. So next, we were on to the rainforest area (where it indeed rained). We first stopped at the Alma River for photos and enjoyed hot chocolate and a cinnamon apple pastry. We then headed over to a cute little waterfall, where we waded through the river to get to the pool. Unfortunately, the rain started coming down at that point, or we would have enjoyed more time in the waterfall.
Mt. Pelee and Saint-Pierre
Check this: There is an active volcano on Martinique. Didn’t know Mt. Pelee was still active before I arrived. But on the tour, we stopped for a scenic overlook where Christelle gave us some history on the ‘catastrophe’ as the Martinicans call it, the huge eruption in 1902 that killed most everyone in and destroyed Saint-Pierre. We then went down into the town to walk the streets and see the old outdoor theater.
There is–legitimately–not a weak drink on Martinique. Seriously. Rhum is the liquor of choice, so we enjoyed a tasting at DePaz Distillery. There they have all sorts of flavored rhums (my personal favorite is the Passionfruit Rhum). The pours are small, but they pack a mean punch. We took only a few minutes to check out the hilltop grounds before getting right down to business, but there was a lot to see if you had the time.
Black Sand Beach
Our last stop of the day was at a black sand beach. To be fair, the sand wasn’t an onyx-toned sand, but lighter, more of a grey beach. But the sand coloration was caused by the volcano. The beach was beautiful and relatively uninhabited. We relaxed there for a bit before heading back to Fort de France to catch our ferry.
All in all, we could have been more pleased with our tour. We covered a lot of ground in just one day, and had great local delicacies along the way. Christelle has put together a great itinerary, but even if you have other things on your itinerary (like the Anse Caffard Memorial or the Jardin de Balata), Karambole offers other tours hitting those sites. The prices are more than reasonable, and Christelle is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about Martinique. I highly recommend this tour company to anyone visiting the island.
*While Karambole Tours offered a media ticket for this tour, the review is my honest opinion and the review is all my own.