The Best Time to Visit Martinique

Martinique

Didier Masson / EyeEm / Getty

The best time to visit Martinique is late spring, after the crowds have departed in mid-April and before the rainy season begins in June. From mid-April through early June, the weather remains sunny and balmy, and visitors will be able to avoid the price increase and crowds associated with the busy season (December through early April). Though the hurricane season technically begins in June, the riskiest month to visit isn't until September, when the chance of tropical storms is at its peak. Read below for more information on avoiding crowds (and hurricanes), as well as monthly events to check out on the island of Martinique.

Weather in Martinique

Thanks to the trade-winds that blow through the island in the summertime, the temperature in Martinique remains relatively temperate year-round. However, Martinique is subject to tropical storms and hurricanes during the rainy season, which runs from June through November. (Although there's always a chance of rainfall in this French Caribbean island year-round). Martinique is located within the Caribbean hurricane belt, and September is usually the riskiest month for travelers to visit the island, as it has the highest likelihood of storms. Although hurricanes remain relatively infrequent on the isle, concerned visitors should purchase travel insurance should they plan a trip at this time.

Peak Tourist Season in Martinique

Winter is the most crowded time of year in Martinique, as most tourists pay their visit to the island during the holidays. The months of December to April are not only the busiest time of year for crowds, but they also mark the dry season on the island. With the influx of tourists, visitors can expect hotel and airfare costs to rise. If you're planning on visiting during these months, expect slightly busier restaurants and beaches, and be sure to book your trip in advance to avoid paying a heftier price for your vacation.

Key Holidays & Events in Martinique

Martinique is home to one of the most unique Carnival celebrations in the world. Visitors looking to maximize their enjoyment of the festivities should plan to arrive in February, when parades such as Fat Sunday (Dimanche Gras), Fat Monday (Martinician burlesque and mock weddings), and Fat Tuesday (Red Devils Day) are held. Late spring is also another wonderful time of year to experience the culture and history of Martinique. Every May, two significant events are celebrated in the city of Saint-Pierre, Martinique's former capital: On May 8, the Éruption de la Montagne Pelée commemorates the eruption of Mount Pelee, while the Abolition de l'Esclavage honors the abolition of slavery on May 22.

Martinique
 Severine BAUR / Getty

January

January is a very popular time to visit Martinique; tourists can expect a more crowded vacation experience and higher prices for travel. Though the temperature in Martinique remains in the 80s year-round, January is particularly ideal for beach-goers as it falls during the island's dry season. The average temperature is 83 F, and the average precipitation is 4.74 inches.

Events to check out:

  • January 1 is Colombo de Poulet, a traditional holiday in which families feast on a meal of "lédjim-pays." But even if you're not partaking in the local celebrations, make sure to eat an orange on this particular day in Martinique (it's considered to bring good luck for the year ahead).
  • Epiphany Sunday is a Christian holiday that occurs on the first Sunday following January 1, and the festivities also signal the beginning of Carnival.

February

February is the driest month of the year, with an average rainfall of 3.51 inches, and is a busy time for visitors to arrive on the island since it coincides with the launch of Carnival. Hotels tend to book up months in advance for this festival period, so guests looking to visit Martinique for Carnival should plan their vacation in advance and book hotels and flights as early as possible.

Events to check out:

  • Though the festivities begin in January, February is the peak time to visit for Martinique's biggest festival of the year: Carnival. Check out the parade on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Red Devils Day, when the costumes on the street are incredibly inventive.

March

In March, the temperature climbs up to an average of 84 F, and it is the last full month of peak tourist season. It is also a continuation of the Carnival period, with the festivities running from Lent through Easter.

Events to check out:

  • The Foire aux Crabes (the Crabs Fair), which offers up an enticing array of crabs for sale, occurs the Saturday before Easter in the town of Vauclin. (Local fruit and produce are featured as well).
  • Schoelcher Nautical Week is an ideal time to visit for sailing enthusiasts.

April

April is the last month of the dry season (which begins in December), and travelers visiting at the beginning of April will still experience the crowded beaches and increased airfare associated with Martinique's busiest time for tourism. If you visit towards the end of the month, however, guests will find the cost of travel significantly reduced.

Events to check out:

  • The Foire Expo de Dillon is a five-day event that takes place in either March or April. The craft festival is held at the Stade Pierre Alker Dillon and features musical performances.
  • Pentecost is a major Christmas holiday in Martinique that is celebrated 49 days after Easter Sunday (also known as Whit Sunday). Families descend on the beaches to prepare a matatou feast at sunrise.

May

May is a beautiful time to visit; the cost of travel is much lower than in the previous wintry months, and the beaches are less crowded. May does mark the beginning of the rainy season (which lasts until November). However, the heavy showers prevalent in the later months of August and September are not as frequent at this time of year.

Events to check out:

  • May 8 is the Éruption de la Montagne Pelée, which commemorates the 1902 volcanic eruption that demolished the former capital city of Saint-Pierre.
  • Also on May 8 is the Défilé Militaire, a military parade celebrating the armistice of World War II.
  • The commemoration of the abolition of slavery (Abolition de l'Esclavage) is celebrated in Saint-Pierre every year on May 22.

June

Early summer remains an ideal time to visit since hurricane season isn't yet at its peak, and the cost of lodging and airfare is much decreased. Additionally, you will discover the beautiful beaches and island roads are blissfully free of crowds. 

Events to check out:

  • Music Day—Fête de la Musique—is celebrated in more than 100 countries (including France), and is commemorated in Martinique with a series of events held on June 21.

July

With an average rainfall of 9.91 inches and the temperature climbing to an average of 86 F, the month of July is a bit of a turning point. Due to the increased chance of storms (and a decreased chance of tourists), many hotels are closed. If you do choose to visit, however, there's an array of cultural events to experience.

Events to check out:

  • Held in July in Martinique's capital city, the Cultural Festival of Fort-de-France is a platform for the island's sounds, crafts, and cuisine.
  • The International Bicycle Race is an eight-day event that kicks off in the first week of July. Cheer on the athletes from various countries as they compete to be the yellow jersey leader.
  • The Banana Festival, or the Musée de la Banane, is an annual event held at the Banana Museum of Limbé Plantation in the Fourniols district of Sainte-Marie. Expect cocktails, sauces, and dishes made from—you guessed it—bananas.
  • Bastille Day is a national holiday in Martinique. Festivities take place throughout the island to commemorate the holiday on July 14.

August

Travelers visiting Martinique in August can expect fewer crowds and cheaper airfare and hotel costs. However, the flip-side to visiting in August is that travelers will arrive during one of the peak months for hurricanes; But, if you're willing to risk some rainfall and tropical storms, you will be rewarded with a blissfully tourist-free vacation.

Events to check out:

  • Occurring either in the last week of July or early August is the popular sailing race, the Tour of Martinique Round Skiffs, which stops at beaches all around the island for eight days.

September

September is the rainiest month of the year, and, like August, prone to hurricanes. August to September are the likeliest months to experience heavy showers or tropical storms, so travelers visiting during this time should purchase travel insurance in advance.

Events to check out:

  • Foodies should plan their trip for the last weekend of September to attend the Martinique Gourmand Festival, which celebrates France's culinary and cultural heritage and influence on the island.

October

October is also a sweltering and rainy month for visitors to Martinique, with an average precipitation of 10.64 inches and an average temperature of 87 F. It is also within the window of danger for hurricanes, so expect smaller crowds, decreased prices, and humid beach days.

Events to check out:

  • Check out the incredible storytelling and performances at the International Day of Creole, which has celebrated Creole culture every October 28 since 1983.

November

November is the last month of the rainy season in Martinique, and also the final month before the busy tourist season on the island begins.

Events to check out:

  • Listen to traditional island sounds such as beguine and bèlè at the Festival of Musicians. The free outdoor concerts held all over the island on November 22 are dedicated to Cecilia, the patron saint of music.
  • Sign up for the half marathon of Fort de France, which has taken place for more than 30 years on the last Sunday in November.

December

December is the start of the tourist season in Martinique, so travelers should be advised to book hotels and airfare ahead of time to avoid increased costs. Visitors are rewarded, however, with a surplus of holiday festivities to enjoy.

Events to check out:

  • Head to the Saint-James Rum Distillery to celebrate the Fête du Rhum, an annual festival that runs for over three weeks in December. Take a train ride to explore the plantation and enjoy the local crafts, fashion shows, and local cocktails available for guests.
  • Active travelers can participate in the Transmartinique, a race from Grand Riviere to Sainte Anne that boasts 400 participants (and is open to both amateurs and professional athletes for enrollment).
  • The year's end is commemorated annually at Boucans de la Baie, a fireworks show held in Fort de France. Expect the lively dancing and celebrating in the streets to last until early morning.
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