Table of contents
- 1. Fort-de-France and its nightlife to get used to the Creole atmosphere
- 2. Discover the island by car
- 3. The garden of Balata
- 4. Climb Mount Pelee
- 5. The Saint James distillery
- 6. A trip to Diamond Rock
- 7. The coves not to be missed
- 8. The scuba diving experience
- 9. Taste the local dishes
- 10. Martinique from the sky
Martinique is the smile of the Antilles according to the most famous Martinican poet Aimé Césaire. The smile and the Creole joie de vivre in the middle of a luxuriant vegetation and endless sandy beaches… Before packing your suitcase, I propose you a quick presentation of Martinique. It is a French island located in the West Indies and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.
There are two regions: the north, which is very mountainous with the Mount Pelee volcano, and the south, which is famous for its breathtaking beaches and its incredibly rich sea bed. The Creole culture is very present and inescapable, whether it is in the gastronomy, the music or the dance.
Now that the scenery is set, I will take you directly to paradise. Discover Madinina, the island of flowers as it is called in Creole. I advise you 10 good deals for a first stay in Martinique and book your flight to Martinique!
1. Fort-de-France and its nightlife to get used to the Creole atmosphere
As soon as you arrive, you will feel the warmth and the good mood of the Creole atmosphere. We are used to say that in Fort-de-France, we party every day and every night. I advise you to spend one or two nights in this city, to soak up the culture and the art of living in Martinique.
In the evening, in all the trendy places, let yourself be initiated to the zouk and the biguine. The Foyalais (the name of the inhabitants of Fort-de-France) love to share their traditions with tourists. Take advantage of this opportunity to discover the rich architectural heritage of the old city, overlooked by the imposing Fort Saint-Louis.
Don’t forget to visit the big market of Fort-de-France where you will be captivated by the beautiful colors of the stalls and caught by the smell of spices. Local vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes or tasty fruits bursting with sunshine, rub shoulders with the stalls of arranged rums and ti punches that you absolutely must taste (in moderation!). The market is a good place to buy local souvenirs at interesting prices.
2. Discover the island by car
Rent a car to take the Route de la Trace. This winding road, on the side of a mountain, will allow you to discover the island in all its splendor. From Fort-de-France to the village of Ajoupa-Bouillon, over a distance of about 40 kilometers, you will meander through lush forests and grandiose landscapes.
Bordered by an abundant vegetation of tree ferns, gum trees and bamboo intertwined with lianas, the atmosphere is almost disturbing, especially if you take the road at night. Rivers and waterfalls amplify this almost fairy-tale-like experience in the heart of the rainforest. Plan a hike in the Martinique Regional Nature Park to discover this intoxicating tropical vegetation from the inside.
3. The garden of Balata
Still on the road to the Trace, take the direction of Balata. On the way, stop at the Sacré-Coeur Church which offers an extraordinary view of the capital, Fort-de-France, which it overlooks. Called the Montmartre of Martinique, its original architecture is inspired by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris.
After this stop, go to the Jardin de Balata. It is the ideal place to understand and appreciate the richness of Martinique’s natural heritage. Around his Creole-style family home, botanist, horticulturist, landscape designer and artist Jean-Philippe Thoze has recreated a botanical garden in the footsteps of his childhood. Hummingbirds come to enjoy the 3000 species of plants and flowers from all over the world. Like a living show, the garden never stops renewing and reinventing itself.
4. Climb Mount Pelee
And you can say I did it! What an unusual challenge it is to climb this mountain and to be close to one of the most watched volcanoes in the world. The volcano, still active, fascinates and worries tourists and Martiniqueans who live with the images of the last eruption in 1929. However, I advise you to prepare yourself for this ascent which requires a good physical shape.
If you don’t want to spend the rest of your vacation walking like an old man, train and warm up your body. Leave early in the morning and make sure you have the right equipment. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast and tell the people around you about your plans. It is better to be careful! The path is well marked and three routes lead to the highest point at 1395 meters. The efforts are largely rewarded! Whichever route you choose, you can walk around the caldera, down to the center of the crater and up to the highest point of the mountain. The length of the hike depends on the route you choose and your pace.
Take your time, plan breaks to recharge your batteries and take pictures. The panorama is dazzling, the green landscapes of the north of the island and the blue of the Caribbean Sea are magical.
5. The Saint James distillery
Rum is intimately linked to the culture of Martinique. Many distilleries are present on the island and most of them welcome tourists for visits and tastings. I advise you to visit the Saint-James house. Indeed, in addition to making you discover the art of the culture of the sugar cane, it shelters a museum. Located in Sainte-Marie in the heart of the plantation, the visit plunges you into the world of the plantations and the distillery. It is also an opportunity to buy some prestigious souvenirs, to be consumed with moderation!
6. A trip to Diamond Rock
In the south of the island, this strange rock owes its name to the sun beams that are reflected on its walls. You can visit the convict’s house which is located in front of it and then climb the iconic rock that you absolutely have to photograph when you go to Martinique.
Personally, I advise you to take a boat trip to go around this unusual place and enjoy the turquoise waters that border it. The fauna is very abundant and spectacular. Many boats offer the excursion with a swimming option. It is an excellent choice to enjoy this typical place of Martinique.
7. The coves not to be missed
The island of Martinique has many coves, all different and spectacular. With some effort, as it is sometimes necessary to walk a little, you will discover wild and preserved beaches that offer you crystal clear waters and the voluptuousness of the tropical climate.
I recommend you the Anse Couleuvre near the village of Prêcheur, in the north of the island. This black sand beach is very picturesque and preserved. In the south of the island, in Rivière-Pilote, enjoy a beautiful natural pool at Anse Figuier. The turquoise waters and the incredibly fine sand promise you unforgettable moments of idleness.
8. The scuba diving experience
The snorkeling version promises unforgettable moments in the midst of multicolored fish and corals in a water temperature always between 27 and 32 degrees. You can practice this activity anywhere on the coast and enjoy the show without ever getting tired of it. But for a more unusual underwater experience, I suggest you dive at least once with a tank.
Many diving spots in Martinique are listed. Diving clubs are scattered all along the coast. I recommend the bay of Saint-Pierre, which shelters in addition to a very rich fauna and flora, about ten wrecks accessible to divers of all levels and to first-time divers.
9. Taste the local dishes
A trip to Martinique also means discovering the local gastronomy. Here, your taste buds are constantly awakened by the contact of colorful and fragrant spices. The cuisine is mixed and generous.
Start with the Féroce, a simple starter that will awaken you to Creole cuisine. A mixture of avocado flesh and cubes of salted cod, the whole is embellished with cassava flour and chili pepper. The accras are also succulent, and of course they will have nothing to do with the ones you ate at the aperitif at home last week. The Ti nain morue, green bananas cooked in water and served as a vegetable with dried cod, is a must for a lunch not far from the beach. The dip is a more substantial meal that will be served at an invitation or an evening at the restaurant. Dishes are lined up on a table and diners serve themselves with their fingers. It is a very local and friendly experience. The desserts are not to be outdone.
In addition to the sun-drenched fruits, don’t forget to try the Robinson, the traditional pastry of Martinique. It is a kind of pound cake made with banana, coconut or guava jam.
10. Martinique from the sky
If you have a budget to spend and you are a thrill seeker, tandem skydiving is the ideal activity! The flight of a little more than 20 minutes, which allows the plane to reach the necessary altitude for the drop, will offer you a breathtaking view of the island of flowers.
You will be dazzled by the infinite shades of blue of the bays and coves and by the green of the intense and tropical forest landscapes. While you’re already feasting your eyes, get ready for the extreme thrill of the big jump. At 200 km/hour, experience a little more than 30 seconds of freefall before your instructor opens the parachute. You will then evolve under canopy in complete safety while enjoying the magnificent scenery and the unusual view.
Get more infos on the official website or Martinique Tourism !