For a long time in my twenties, I’d been longing to go to Martinique. I don’t remember how I even came across it as a travel option in the first place, but it always looked like such an interesting place that I knew I wanted to visit. Unfortunately, since Martinique apparently was not big on American tourism at the time, the flight and hotel costs made travel to Martinique a little too much of a stretch for my budget.
But then, in steps Norwegian! Offering flights to Martinique from cities along the East Coast starting at $150 round trip, I (along with everyone else on the east coast) had to snap them up!
Arriving in Fort-de-France
I’m sure most of this was due to the influx of American travelers taking advantage of the Norwegian sale, but getting through customs took what felt like FOREVER. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the line at the Avis counter took a solid 1.5 hours to get through, even though I had booked my rental car in advance. Speaking of rental cars, I HIGHLY recommend you rent a car. For one, Martinique is a beautiful island, with plenty to see. Also, taxis are wildly expensive at night; A 40% surcharge is added onto all fares between 8pm and 6am, and all day on Sunday and holidays.
Martinique is a beautiful island, with plenty to see. Taxis are wildly expensive at night; A 40% surcharge is added onto all fares between 8pm and 6am, and all day on Sunday and holidays.
As far as driving around the island, I think as long as you are used to typical city driving, you should be ok. Some drivers can be a little aggressive. Make sure you download Waze before you get there!
Where I Stayed
I stayed in a cute studio apartment that I found on Airbnb in Les Trois-Îlets. The apartment was really modern, and had a great view of a beach.
While it is generally not hard to find someone that speaks some English, it should be noted that the primary language in Martinique is French, so you may want to brush up before you head out there, or at least download Google Translate.
My first morning there, I took a random drive and ended up in Grand Anse. It was a decent beach, but very rocky, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for swimming. However, it did have lots of good restaurants, which brings me to…
All the food I had in Martinique was amazing! I unfortunately cannot remember the name of the first restaurant I went to, but I swear it had the best red snapper I’ve ever had. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants on that beach, though. Add a glass of Planteur Punch (or Ti Punch, if you’re looking for something strong), and I’m in heaven.
On my second full day, I went on a catamaran ride with La Creole Cata. Unfortunately, it rained pretty much the whole time, which kind of put a damper on snorkeling and otherwise enjoying the beaches we stopped at, but I just wanted to highlight lunch, which was amazing again! The tour included open bar and lunch, and of course I took full advantage.
One place you must visit is the Anse Cafard slave memorial. The memorial was completed in 1998 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies, the memorial is comprised of 20 statues, each eight feet tall. On the night of April 7, 1830, a ship carrying a cargo of Africans sank in the rocky waters off the coast of Le Diamant. More than 40 would-be slaves, shackled together in the ship’s hull, drowned. The tragedy is artfully memorialized by Martinican sculptor Laurent Valére.
The two best beaches I was able to visit while I was there were Le Diamant and Les Salines. Le Diamant was actually about a 3 minute drive from the Anse Cafard memorial, and has a beautiful view of Diamond Rock.
While you’re there, make sure to visit Chez Ernest. Its a cute little jazz themed restaurant right on the beach, with great drinks.
Les Salines was about an hour and a half drive away, but was soooo worth the drive. It was the only beach that I encountered (although I’m sure there are more that I just didn’t get time to see), with fine white sand and super clear blue water. There were lots of amazing restaurants (yes, I ate at 3 while I was there for the day).
All in all, I definitely think Martinique is a must visit! I’m so sad I only got to stay for 3 nights, but I will definitely be going back for a longer stay!