Martinique Holiday Planning Guide
The mountainous island of Martinique offers travelers everything from stunning natural landscapes, to vibrant towns and enticing cuisine. The island's varied scenery includes numerous scenic beaches, lush forests, and a majestic volcano that towers over the St. Pierre harbor. A range of activities await you on your Martinique holiday, allowing you to spend your days lounging on the sand and enjoying the azure waters, sampling gastronomic delicacies, or frequenting the shops, clubs, and cafes in the capital city of Fort-de-France.
Places to Visit in Martinique
Regions of MartiniqueArrondissement of Le Marin
: Quaint buildings, colorful markets, and colonial monuments blend together in a relaxing coastal ambience, making Le Marin a perfect addition to any Martinique itinerary.Arrondissement of Saint-Pierre
: Home to a now-dormant volcano--which once destroyed the area's biggest city--Saint Pierre features a range of interesting monuments and museums. Arrondissement of La Trinite
: Ocean cruising, surfing, and a plethora of other water activities attract thrill-seeking tourists to La Trinite, a frequent top choice for Martinique vacations.Arrondissement of Fort-de-France
: Most of the historical Martinique attractions lie near the island's capital, a must-stop in this region.
Cities in MartiniqueFort-de-France
: Featuring a combination of forts surrounded with lush forests and urban shopping plazas, the capital represents a major destination for Martinique vacations, with its modern infrastructure, plenty of sightseeing opportunities, and numerous popular beaches.Trois-Ilets
: Clean white beaches and a historical legacy mark Trois-Ilets, which served as home to a slave-run plantation during the colonial times.Le Francois
: A coastal town surrounded by pristine nature and azure lagoons, Le Francois boasts colonial-era monuments and offers exciting snorkeling opportunities.Les Anses d'Arlet
: Grab your diving equipment and head to the waters of Les Anses d'Arlet, one of the most exciting destinations you can add to your Martinique itinerary--there, you can swim with turtles and explore a vast ocean reef.Sainte-Anne
: Base your Martinique vacation in Sainte-Anne if you wish to hike along volcanic beaches with soft sand, lie in the shade of mangroves with a cocktail in hand, or go diving in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Popular Martinique Tourist AttractionsJardin de Balata
: Take a winding road among the well sculpted and ordered exotic flowers and gardens set in the jungle-like mountain forest, or walk on suspended paths in tree tops, soaking in the scenic views of the countryside.Habitation Clement
: Taste a renowned rum distilled from local sugar products in the preserved colonial building, complete with original furnishings and photos of famous visitors. Les Salines Beach
: Serene atmosphere, glass-clear water, and powder-soft sand make this beach one of the most popular stops on many Martinique tours. La Savane des Esclaves
: A representation of a 19th-century settlement which housed enslaved plantation workers, this estate provides insight into local traditions and customs.Zoo de Martinique - Habitation Latouche
: A zoo, museum, and a historical site all in one, this facility offers its visitors insight into the history of the island's agriculture and houses a wide array of animal and plant species.Fonds Blancs
: A white sandbar surrounded by turquoise waters, this attraction serves as a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling among numerous endemic marine species.Anse Couleuvre
: Relax on a secluded piece of volcanic black sand lying in the shade of palm trees and bathed by placid blue water.La Pointe Marin
: A relaxing spot during the day and a popular party destination at night, this beach allows you to swim or soak up some rays a walk away from good bars and restaurants.Schoelcher Library
: A good addition to a cultural Martinique itinerary, this library houses over 130,000 books, including copies of 17th-century navigation treaties.Anse Dufour
: Bring your snorkeling gear and diving equipment and head over to this beach for entertaining water activities, or just hang out on the sand in the company of sea turtles.
Planning a Martinique Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Martinique with Kids
You'll find lots of kid-friendly activities suitable for your Martinique vacation, from safe and gentle pursuits for toddlers to the more extreme water sports for adrenaline-seeking teens.
Vibrant, flashy markets and wide, calm beaches of Arrondissement of Le Marin
offer lots of entertainment for children, while the unspoiled nature and tropical landscapes of Arrondissement of Saint-Pierre
allow for fun tours and outdoor camping.
Secluded lagoons of Arrondissement of La Trinite
provide calm waters for activities like novice-level snorkeling and swimming, while the capital, Fort-de-France
, offers access to nature parks, zoos, and museums--ideal for any family interested in the area's traditions and French-influenced culture.
Things to Do in Martinique with Kids
You shouldn't worry about your kids getting bored while on a Martinique holiday, as the country offers a range of family-oriented attractions guaranteed to keep visitors pleasantly diverted, regardless of their age.
You could easily spend days soaking up the sun at Les Salines Beach
, where the calm waters, soft sand, and the proximity of good eating options relieve you of worrying about basic needs. Dolphin encounters
let your kids meet docile marine mammals playfully interacting with passing boats, while a visit to Zoo de Martinique - Habitation Latouche
allows your family to discover an attraction combining the best aspects of a zoo, museum, and garden.
For a classic theme-park experience, drop by Mangofil Martinique
, which boasts ziplines, a mini golf course, lifesize foosball areas, elevated trampolines, and picnic areas.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Martinique
You'll encounter few problems during your family's vacation in Martinique, as the country's tourism sector caters to tourists traveling with kids in tow.
Most hotels provide cots, while some are even willing to arrange babysitting services for their guests--choosing to stay at one of these establishments will allow you to enjoy an adult night out without having to worry about the safety of your young ones.
Children are welcome at all restaurants, with many eateries providing simple and inexpensive kids' meals.
If your traveling party includes a baby, you can stock up on baby formula, diapers, and other baby-related items at local pharmacies.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Martinique
Cuisine of Martinique
Martinique food culture blends French culinary influences with local Creole traditions. The result is a delicious gastronomic offering that appeals to many international foodies.
As you tour Martinique, be sure to taste accra (fritters made with fish, prawns, or vegetables), served as an appetizer or part of breakfast. Boudin is a famous Creole sausage made of pork, pig's blood, and onion--it's yet another local favorite providing a window into the island's cooking and eating habits.
If you're interested in sampling a local drink, consider ti' punch, a rum-based drink which many regard as Martinique's national cocktail.
Shopping in Martinique
Shopping in Martinique closely resembles the experience you'd likely have in Paris. Boutiques, markets, and malls offer both French luxury items, like high-quality porcelain, perfumes, and clothes, as well as traditional items that make ideal gifts or souvenirs.
Shopaholics on a vacation in Martinique generally include Fort-de-France
on their itinerary. There, you'll find traditional markets like Grand Marche
offering local goods, and malls selling international brands.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Martinique
Interesting Facts About Martinique
● The island was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493--upon landing on its shores in 1502, Columbus named the island Martinica
● Martinique has been under French rule for nearly four centuries (since 1635)
● Martinique's major religion is Catholicism, with over 90 percent of the population declared as Roman Catholic
● Common around Montagne Pelee
, the volcano frog is the only arombatid frog species endemic to an ocean island--scientists and frog lovers often call this creature "cryptic forest frog"
Things You Should NOT Do in Martinique
Although a Martinique vacation offers plenty of chances for relaxation and entertainment, you should keep a few points in mind to avoid risky or unpleasant situations.
Take great care not to touch or eat from the mancenillier tree, which produces apple-like fruit. Just standing under it could give you a rash and burns--talk to the local guides or just avoid unfamiliar plants in general.
Watch out for sea urchins when you swim, dive, or snorkel, and always remember to bring plenty of sunscreen for everyone in your traveling party whenever you plan to spend time outdoors.
Holidays & Festivals in Martinique
Martinique is an island with deeply rooted traditions, so it doesn't surprise that festivals and holidays remain a key part of its culture.
Vaval, the largest festival you can witness on your Martinique holiday, lasts for four days and represents a Carnival-like event of dancing, parading, and masquerading. This festival ends on the first day of Lent.
On Bastille Day (July 14), the national holiday, families gather together for traditional meals--it's one of the best events for learning about the island's links to France.
The island also hosts the Martinique Jazz Festival during the last week of November--it remains the Caribbean's longest running jazz festival.
Useful Martinique Travel Tips
Common Greetings in Martinique
Although French remains the official language of Martinique and is widely spoken by everyone, Creole tends to be spoken informally with friends and family.
Use "bonjour" if you wish to say "hello," suitable for informally greeting most people you'll meet on your tour of Martinique.
Climate of Martinique
Martinique enjoys a humid tropical climate, with average temperatures of 26 C (80 F) throughout the year.
Trade winds cool off the island, maintaining the constant temperature that turns Martinique into an ideal beach-oriented vacation destination.
The wet season falls between June and October, while the dry period lasts from December to May--the latter is also the most popular and most comfortable time for a vacation in Martinique.
Transportation in Martinique
Bus and taxi services are widespread and available, as well as car rental services. If you do opt to rent a car, keep in mind that many local roads are very narrow and congested, making even short trips time-consuming and relatively uncomfortable.
Regular ferries between the island's major resorts and Fort-de-France
provide an ideal alternative for those wishing to escape heavy traffic and the stress of driving (and parking) a private or rented car.
Tipping in Martinique
Tipping isn't obligatory in Martinique, but will be expected as a sign of appreciation throughout your Martinique trip.
Most restaurants, hotels, and bars will add 10 to 15 percent to the total of your bill, but you can give extra tips if you deem the quality of service you received was above average.
Taxi drivers don't expect but appreciate tips, especially after longer trips and night drives. Show your appreciations by adding up to 20 percent to the fare.