Part of the Lesser Antilles, Martinique is a French overseas region and one of the jewels of the Caribbean. If you’re looking for the perfect spot for that next vacation, Martinique should be toward the top of your list.
In this guide, we’ll go over what you need to know about Martinique and examine the ten best things to do in this one-of-a-kind Caribbean nation. Let’s jump in!
Let’s start by examining a brief overview of Martinique. Understanding more about this island nation will help you know if it’s the right spot for your next vacation.
Where Is Martinique?
Martinique is located in the Lesser Antilles, around 280 miles northeast of the South American coast. Nearby nations include Dominica, St. Lucia, and Barbados. If you’re wondering “St. Martin or Martinique?” it’s important to realize that the two each represent separate Caribbean islands. The flag of Martinique is the Tricolor, which also serves as the French National Flag.
Is Martinique Safe?
Martinique is generally considered very safe, making it a great destination for travel. As with any country, travelers are not recommended to travel alone after dark, particularly in Fort-de-France, where after-dark muggings have been known to occur.
The island of Martinique is home to 376,480 people, with the capital of Martinique—Fort-de-France—boasting a population of 82,502 people.
How to Get to Martinique
There are multiple ways to get to Martinique. Tourists can fly into the St. Martinique airport or take a ferry from St. Lucia to St. Martinique (of course, a reverse ferry from Martinique to St. Lucia is also possible).
Things to Do in Martinique:
With all this in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the top things to do in Martinique:
1) See the St. Louis Cathedral
A trip to the St. Louis Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Martinique. A national landmark, the cathedral is located in downtown Fort-de-France and dates back to the late 19th century. The church is built in the Romanesque Revival style and is the seventh church to be built on the site, with the first having been built in 1657.
St. Louis Cathedral makes the perfect stop for tourists, especially those with a Roman Catholic background. Enjoy the majesty and beauty of one of the best churches in all of the Caribbean!
2) Visit Fort-de-France
Fort-de-France, Martinique is the capital city of the island and one of the liveliest places in the Caribbean. The city boasts robust markets and neighborhoods where French Creole culture comes to life. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Schoelcher Library and other incredible shops and restaurants that will give you a new appreciation for the island. The hottest spot on any map of Martinique, the city is a must-see for all travelers. Without a doubt, there are countless things to do in Fort de France, Martinique that you’ll want to try during your next vacation.
3) Relax on Plage des Salines Beach
With crystal clear water and beautiful white sand, Plage des Salines is the perfect place to take advantage of the perfect Martinique weather. This is made doubly true when considering that the beach is one of the least crowded on the island. The beach is located near Saint-Anne and a number of interesting museums and wildlife reserves that you may also want to check out. Loved by Martinique people, the beach should be considered a top destination for all travelers.
4) Tour Jardin de Balata
Don’t miss out on one of the most beautiful gardens in the Caribbean. Jardin de Balata, opened to the public in 1986, is home to over 3,000 types of plants and is open daily. The garden is located just ten miles outside of Fort-de-France and is an affordable option for families looking for something special to do while in Martinique.
5) Hike Mount Pelee
While you’re in Martinique, make sure to hike the legendary Mount Pelee. This volcano, now dormant, was the cause of the 20th century’s deadliest volcanic eruption. When the volcano erupted in 1902, it claimed nearly 30,000 lives and completely obliterated the port city of Saint Pierre. Today, the mountain is closely watched by geologists to ensure safety, making it a great place for a one-of-a-kind climb.
6) Visit the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial
The Anse Cafard Slave Memorial is one of the most interesting locations in all of Martinique—though it’s not for the faint of heart. The memorial consists of twenty stone statues situated on a hill facing Diamond Beach. The presentation is dedicated to the slaves who died in an 1830 shipwreck which cost the lives of several slaves just outside of Martinique. The memorial is free and is a great place to learn more about the history and culture of the island.
7) Go to Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach boasts one of the best oceanside experiences in Martinique. Situated in the quaint town of Le Diamant, the beach is hardly ever crowded and offers a relaxing location to kick back with your family and friends. Admittedly, there’s not much to do around the area, but for pure beach fun, it’s hard to get better than Diamond Beach, especially if you’re looking for a quiet place to wind down over your next vacation.
8) Take a Trip to La Savane Park
Located in Fort-de-France, La Savane Park is home to both beautiful scenery and a lively market. Here, vendors sell a variety of crafts, snacks, and other goodies that you’ll definitely want to check out. Don’t forget to visit the statue of Empress Josephine, the native-born citizen of Martinique who was the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. But don’t be shocked when you get there—she’s headless.
9) Visit St. Pierre
Want to see for yourself the deadly impact the Mount Pelee eruption of 1902 had on the island? A trip to St. Pierre allows you to witness firsthand the ruins of the once glamorous city. The prison cell of one of the blast’s only two known survivors still stands, as does parts of a theater. The Musee Vulcanologique located nearby explains the history of the town and its epic demise.
10) See the Birthplace of Empress Josephine
The first wife of Napoleon and the controversial figure who brought slavery back to the island in 1802, Empress Josephine played a key role in the history of the nation. Tourists can now visit a museum housed in the kitchen of her former home (the rest of which was destroyed by a hurricane). See her personal belongings firsthand and tour the stunning gardens located on the property.
The Bottom Line
Martinique serves as the perfect place for that next Caribbean vacation. If you haven’t already made your itinerary, we hope this travel guide will help you make your next trip the best one yet!