Start Planning Your Martinique Vacation
Known as the Paris of the West Indies, Martinique is the most exquisite and sophisticated beach destination in the Caribbean. Originated in a culture of European tradition and the good vibes of the Caribbean, Martinique has all the things you’d expect from France, but without the crowds or rainy weather. The main tourist attractions – museums, luxury resorts, shopping and fine beaches – are located predominately in the South. But Martinique is also a mecca for hiking and nature lovers who admire the wildlife and botanical gardens tucked within the slopes of a volcano. It’s got 425 square miles of rugged mountains, dense forest, rivers, waterfalls and, of course, picturesque beaches and coves. So if you want to get a dose of the old world, but with a sunny, sea-side mentality, look towards Martinique for your next Caribbean getaway.
Other Destinations in Martinique
Mapping Out Martinique
The northern part of Martinique features St. Pierre. This region rises steeply above the coastline some 5,000 feet above sea level and extends all the way to Fort-de-France. In this area, the highest elevations are covered by dense rainforest.
On the southern portion of the island, you’ll find the majority of the luxury hotels and resorts, beaches and tourist hot spots. This particular area is much less mountainous and includes Martinique’s most famous beaches.
1902 Eruption of Mount Pelée
In the early morning hours of May 8th, 1902, the residents of St. Pierre awoke to an earth-shattering explosion which rocked the floor beneath them.
Despite the approaching disaster, the 30,000 residents of Martinique’s former capital were left in awe of the fireworks that spewed from the top of the mountain—completely unaware that they would soon become victims of the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th Century.
Today, tourists can visit the remnants of the former capital and learn how the disaster shaped modern-day Martinique.
Frolic to Fort-de-France
The island’s capital is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in all of the French West Indies. While it may not be the biggest hotspot for nightlife, travelers can enjoy a nice selection of hotels, eateries and places to grab a casual drink with friends. Located near the harbor, travelers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Pitons du Carbet rising up out of the water when approaching by ferry.
Be sure to give yourself a few hours to explore the busy streets and take in a number of historic sites and museums that are reminiscent of New Orleans. While most prefer to visit the city during the day, there are a number of fine restaurants and bars to spend your evenings in.
Musee de la Pagerie
Established on the grounds of a former sugar estate, Musee de la Pagerie was the birthplace of Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Pagerie. She would later and more famously become known as Empress Josephine, wife of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
With picturesque stone walls, the museum contains artifacts from Josephine’s childhood including her bed, clothes and other memorabilia. Other buildings throughout the plantation contain artifacts from the Bonaparte family including love letters between Napoleon and Josephine.
This is a great site to explore and offers travelers with an in-depth view of the former Empress.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in Martinique, the island was predominantly inhabited by the Arawaks who had named it the “Madinina,” or “Island of Flowers.” Martinique is still that floral island, as diverse and fascinating plant life bloom across its dramatic terrain.
Because of the continued tropical climate conditions in Martinique, the island is lush with gardens that anyone would love to see. Grab a camera and explore tropical forests, mangroves and savannas to find a wonderful variety of trees, fruits, plants and flowers.
Up mountains, through river valleys and right up to the sandy shores, you'll discover over and over that the Arawaks got the name of this island exactly right.
Situated on the site of what was once a rum distillery, Les Ombrages is a beautiful botanical garden that makes for a refreshing break while hiking around the rocky terrain of the mountain.
The trails leading to Les Ombrages make for a refreshing climb that can be challenging at times, but offers various vistas around the island from lush jungles to rocky, mountainous terrain. As you pass by, the trail opens up to strands of bamboo, tall trees and buttressed roots before revealing the ruins of the old mill.
Once there, you can take a breather and inhale the sweet aroma of the botanical garden. Stay a while and appreciate the cultivated beauty before returning to Martinique's raw, natural beauty.
Martinique Quick Facts
Language: The official language is French
The official currency is the Euro
220 volts with a standard European outlet
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Martinique.
The water is safe to drink in Martinique, but is heavily chlorinated. Guests may prefer to drink bottled water.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
The peak travel season extends from mid-December through mid-April.