Martinique may be the rum capital of the French Caribbean, but there is more to do on this gorgeous island than drink rum punch while watching the sunset. While it's a paradise for sunbathers, outdoor enthusiasts won't be bored either (and if you doubt us, wait until you see our hike below that traverses Mount Pelee). Two-thirds of the nation is protected parkland, and the island's well-maintained hiking trails extend 80 miles. Yes, Martinique is a hiker's dream, and there's plenty of options for the vertically-inclined vacationer to explore during their visit to this gorgeous island in the Caribbean. From botanical gardens near Fort-de-France to excursions in the Pitons du Carbet mountain range in northern Martinique, we have provided a list of options to accommodate all levels of adventurers. Read on for the nine most momentous hikes to check out on the island of Martinique.
Start your trip in Northern Martinique, home to a third of the entire nation's population, and (more importantly) the location of two gorgeous Caribbean mountain ranges: Mount Pelee and the Pitons du Carbet (also known as Carbet peaks). The hike to the summit of Mount Pelee (a hike also known as La Caldeira) is, without question, a must-do for adventurous travelers. Mount Pelee rises more than 4,000 feet and is not a climb for the faint of heart: a trip to the summit will take seven hours or more. If you're not feeling up for the trek, there are shorter trail options that still have similarly scenic views.
Pitons du Carbet
The climb up the Pitons du Carbet, whose highest peak, the Piton Lacroix, rises 1,1097 meters, is slightly more rigorous than that of Mount Pelée. But it's worth it just for the views, and the luscious tropical vegetation that permeates your wild surroundings. Just remember to reward yourself with some rum afterward.
Jardin de Balata
Jardin de Balata is one of Martinique's most famous attractions and is located around 6 miles north of Fort-de-France. The botanical garden in northern Martinique is a perfect visit for hikers of all levels of ability, as it is merely an hour-long walk through the rainforest, fish ponds, and bamboo trees. Check out the hummingbirds and the breathtaking vistas, and be sure to check out the gift shop and restaurant before leaving. And, if you didn’t rent a car for this trip, you can still access the Jardin de Balata via a 20-minute public bus ride from Rue André Aliker.
This coastal rainforest hike journeys from Le Prêcheur to the Grand Rivière. The nearly 10-mile-hike lasts roughly six hours, including a boat ride courtesy of Gaïatrek (an excellent resource for hiking in Martinique). This is an excellent option for exploring the varied landscapes of this French Caribbean island: the trail meanders alongside the coast and through the ancient volcanoes that are scattered at the foothills of Mount Pelée. Similar to our last selection at the Jardin de Balata, this, too, is a relatively easy trek. After all, if you don't have the energy to climb Mount Pelée's peak, you should at least explore the gorgeous wilderness it rises above.
Cascade An Ba So
The Cascade An Ba So is located on the western coast in Fond Lahaye (a neighborhood in Schœlcher towards the island's center). This hike is a great option for families, as the 2-kilometer trek should only take around an hour. Though the hike itself is fairly easy, travelers should be warned that the ground becomes slippery in the rain (a common occurrence in the rainforest) and beware of snakes. However, don't be too discouraged as this hike saves the best for last: you will be refreshed and rewarded by a dip in the waterfall, where you can cool off at the end of your journey.
Trace of the Jesuits
Head inland to Fonds-Saint-Denis to embark upon the Trace Jesuit (also known as the Trace of the Jesuits). This ancient trail originated with religious journeyers in the 17th-century, and you don't need to be spiritual to find something inspirational in the lush greenery of this tropical rainforest trek. The 3.5-mile trail is perfect for adventurers of all levels of fitness, and vacationers should set aside three to four hours to complete this nature excursion.
From the forest to the ocean, Martinique is a great place to take a hike along the Atlantic Coast. Though there are multiple routes you can select, you can book a 12-mile excursion with Gaiatrek. You will discover some of the most breathtaking beaches and coves along the coast through this hike, which lasts roughly eight to nine hours. Don't worry about the distance—you can always take a swim break in the refreshing ocean whenever you feel overheated.
Absalon Circuit Rainforest
The Absalon Circuit explores the rainforest in Fort-de-France and originates at the Jardin de Balata. The hike spans around 2-5 miles and takes visitors through Balata's forests through to the bay of Fort-de-France (with gorgeous views of the Pitons du Carbet to be enjoyed along the way). Due to the excursion's unchallenging nature, this circuit is perfect for travelers visiting Martinique with groups or families.
Morne Larcher Trail
On the southern end of the island, this hike offers spectacular panoramic views near the town of Le Diamant and its namesake 574-foot Diamond Rock, a basalt island. Allocate roughly four hours for the round-trip hike, which, with its vertical inclines, is not for the amateur adventurer. But if you're willing (and able) to scramble up some boulders, it is well worth the effort for the views at the top.