Tips on What To Do in Martinique
Visitors will need at least three or four days to fully explore the island's serene beaches, lush rainforests and active volcano. Extra time must also be allotted for sampling the area "rhum" in the local nighttime haunts, or shopping for crafts along Fort-de-France.
- Except for the mountainous north, it's an exceptionally easy island to drive around. One can surf at Presqu'île de Caravelle in the morning and make it back to Fort-de-France in time (avoiding rush hour) to sample the city's budding nightlife." -- Lonely Planet
- The northern part of the island will appeal to nature lovers, hikers, and mountain climbers. The drive from Fort-de-France to St-Pierre is particularly impressive. ... This is Martinique's wild side -- a place of waterfalls, rain forest, and mountains. The highlight is Mont Pelée." -- Fodor's
- There is something for everybody here: a variety of hotels, good beaches, watersports, historical attractions, beautiful scenery, hiking, birdwatching and countless other activities." -- Footprint Guides
Martinique's most popular beaches are located next to the major resort hotels of Pointe du Bout. For travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the resort area, head south to Diamond Beach or to the small fishing village of Ste. Luce.
- Long luscious beaches and loads of diving are the main attractions in the south. Fishing villages dot the coasts; most of them have managed to hang on their seafaring soul while offering plenty for visitors to see and do." -- Lonely Planet
- Pointe du Bout, where most of the island's biggest resorts are located, has some small beaches that are popular with visitors. A better bet, however, is to head south to Diamond Beach, which has glossy rows of palm trees and lots of space for sunbathing and water sports." -- About.com
Sports & Leisure
No trip to Martinique would be complete without taking in the impressive heights and flourishing rainforests of Mont Pelée, which towers an impressive 4,500 feet above the small village of Le Morne Rouge in northern Martinique. Adventurous types like to climb the sides of this active volcano, but most recommend you take a guided tour. Looking to avoid altitude? Mont Pelée's base also offers picturesque waterfalls and easier-to-navigate forests.
Another popular hiking spot is the Caravelle Nature Preserve, located near the small town of Trinité on the island's northeast coast. If you're not much of a hiker, travelers recommend strolling through the Balata Gardens (Le Jardin de Balata) in Le Carbet.
- Martinique is a rugged island, with the jagged peaks of the Pitons du Carbet, and Mount Pelée, softened by lush jungles carved with freshwater streams that spill into stunning waterfalls and canyons. The best way to explore is by canyoning, a sport that takes you down the middle of a river gorge by means of hiking, wading, climbing, jumping and rappelling." -- New York Times
- The hiking is excellent on Martinique, with options including coastal rain forest trails between Grand Rivière and Le Prêcheur, and a steep climb up the volcanic peak of Mount Pelee. Martinique also boasts a golf course, tennis courts, excellent sailing and good windsurfing." -- About.com
Although Martinique caters mainly to adventure-seekers, history buffs will also find plenty of diversions. Fort-de-France is speckled with 17th-century cathedrals, such as the St. Louis Cathedral, as well as the lively La Savane, a large park in the heart of the city known for its defaced statue of the French Empress Josephine (who was born on the island). Some suggest touring the ruins of Château Dubuc to brush up on the island's 18th-century history.
- If you're craving culture, make sure to explore Fort-de-France, which has some interesting cathedrals, the historic Fort Saint Louis, and a couple of museums examining the island's history. St-Pierre has a volcano museum dedicated to the 1902 eruption that buried this small city, killing all but one of its 30,000 inhabitants." -- About.com
- At the heart of [Fort-de-France] is La Savane, a broad garden with many palms and mangos, playing fields, walks, and benches, plus shops and cafes lining its sides. In the middle of this grand square stands a statue of Joséphine, 'Napoleon's little Creole,' made of white marble by Vital Debray. The statue poses in a Regency gown and looks toward Les Trois-Ilets, where Joséphine was born." -- Frommer's
Martinique's museums are not popular (would you go to an island to stay indoors?) but there are several good ones that recount the history of the island and some of its most popular resources. Try the Regional History and Ethnography Museum (Musée Régionale d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie), St. Pierre's Volcano Museum, or the Centre d'Art Musée Paul-Gauguin.
The North Loop offers the tasty Musée du Rhum. Recent guests also suggest the Musée du Café et du Cacao (Coffee and Cocoa Museum), as well as the Musée de la Banane (Banana Museum).
- Le Musée Régional d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie … is devoted to an illumination of the island's agrarian past (and the slave culture that made it possible). Expositions showcase the late-19th-century volcanic eruption that leveled St-Pierre, slavery and its effects on the island's society, and explorations of the sugar-cane industry." -- Frommer's
- Dazzled by the tropical colors and vegetation, Gauguin developed a style, his Martinique period, that directly anticipated his Tahitian paintings. Disappointingly, this modest museum has only reproductions and some original letters and documents relating to the painter." -- Fodor's
Attractions for Kids
According to travel writers, Martinique has limited activities the whole family would enjoy. Some of the all-inclusive resorts offer kid's programs, however, and there's also the Aqualand Martinique water park, located just north of Fort-de-France.
- Set in 4 hectares (10 acres) of tropical gardens, Aqualand Martinique … lies on the road to St-Pierre, about an hour's drive from Fort-de-France. It features eight nautical attractions, with three especially designed for children. The big hit is a wave pool that can go from almost unnoticed sways to real breakers." -- Frommer's
- This U.S.-style water park is a great place for families to have a wet, happy day. The large wave pool is well tended; little ones love it, as they do the pirate's galleon in their own watery playground. Older kids may prefer to get their thrill from the slides, including the hairpin turns of the Giant Slalom, the Colorado slide, and the Black Hole, which winds around in total darkness." -- Fodor's
Martinique's shopping scene appeals to travelers with expensive taste. Fort-de-France stores sell everything from designer apparel to high-end dishware, but the Centre des Métiers d'Art in southern Fort-de-France features handmade jewelry and crafts.
- French fragrances, designer scarves and sunglasses, fine china and crystal, leather goods, wine (amazingly inexpensive at supermarkets), and liquor are all good buys in Fort-de-France. Purchases are further sweetened by the 20% discount on luxury items when paid for with certain credit cards." -- Fodor's
- If you want relaxation, Fort-de-France -- a congested ramshackle town with narrow streets and corrugated-roof housing -- should be avoided. But it's the place to go for authentic crafts made by local artists and artisans." -- New York Times
To some, it doesn't matter what bar you choose in Martinique, just as long as you try the rhum while you're there. A favorite drink includes 'ti punch, made with sugar cane syrup, lime and the local rhum. Most of Martinique's nightlife is centered in Fort-de France, although the resort-ridden areas of Pointe du Bout and Les Trois-Ilets offer their fair share of beachside bars and lively nightclubs. Be prepared to pay a rather hefty cover.
- Martinique is dotted with lively discos and nightclubs, but a good deal of the fun is to be had by befriending Martinicans, French residents, and other expats and hope they will invite you to their private parties." -- Fodor's
- The popularity of individual bars and dance clubs in Martinique rises and falls almost monthly. Many of them charge a cover between 10€ and 15€ ($14-$21), although that's often ignored if business is slow, and if you're a particularly appealing physical specimen." -- Frommer's