The Caribbean island of Martinique has become more popular for U.S. travelers over the past few years since airlines began offering more accessible routes. The country is known for its natural beauty, including crystal blue waters and scenic vistas, as well as for its French history and Creole culture. Here are the top 14 you must do when visiting Martinique.
Go for a Hike on La Caravelle Nature Trail
Martinique is known for its lush greenery and scenic views. If you want to see the true beauty of the island, go on a hike or walk at some point during your trip. For a glimpse at the island's gorgeous natural scenery, take a walk on the La Caravelle and Sainte-Anne Peninsula trail, which will lead you to some of the best panoramic views on Martinique. The trails are easy to navigate and offer visitors a chance to see Martinique’s vaying ecosystems, from the mangroves to dense forest. The best time to walk either of these trails is in the early morning to avoid encountering too many other people and also to beat the afternoon heat.
Explore the Ruins of Chateau Dubuc
Learn more about Martinique’s past with a visit to Chateau Dubuc. The 17th-century estate offers several walking trails—as you're walking, be sure to partake in the self-guided audio tours to learn more about the history of the property you're seeing. When you've finished up your visit to the historic castle, take a walk (about 2 miles) along the trail that leads to the nearby lighthouse for stunning views from the peninsula. Make sure to bring some sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses as there is nowhere to hide from the sun.
Go on a Snorkeling Experience
Great beaches and clear waters are two of Martinique’s greatest draws. For swimmers and ocean lovers, it is also a premier destination to go snorkeling. You can find instructors on most beaches around the island as well as places to rent the gear you'll need for your excursion. While many of the beaches around the island offer great snorkeling experiences, the two best spots in our opinion are Anse Noire and Anse Dufour to see the colorful coral reefs and marine life in the area.
Hike Around Mount Pelée
Mount Pelée is an active volcano that resides on the northern side of the island, and it's home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. The long, winding 4.7-mile L'Aileron Trail takes you up to the rim of the crater and is one of the most scenic and worthwhile options, but note that it's not for the faint of heart and is recommended for experienced hikers and adventure travelers due to the rock scrambles and potentially wet, slippery terrain. Whichever trail you choose, be sure to start your hike early to avoid the heat, and pack plenty of sunscreen and water to stay hydrated.
Learn About The History Of Rhum at the Clement Distillery
One of Martinique’s most notable exports is rhum, and the island is known for the high-quality standards. There are many distilleries on the island, but the most famous is the Clement distillery. Visitors can take a tour of the grounds, which also include a botanical garden, art exhibit, and Creole house to learn more about the culture of the island.
Visit Diamond Rock
One of the most famous attractions on the island is the white sandy beaches of Le Diamant Beach, located on the southwestern coast of the island, where you can see an undisrupted view of Diamond Rock. You’ve probably seen photos on dozens of tourism campaigns, but it still doesn’t live up to seeing the wondrous view in person. The isolated island is known to reflect the light of the sun, which is how it earned its name comparing it to the precious stone. It's also one of the most beautiful places for scuba diving in the area, as you can spot a variety of marine life in the crystal blue waters.
Spend the Day in Fort-De-France
Fort-de-France is the capital city of Martinique, and it offers a lot to see and do, especially if you plan on doing some shopping. Spend time exploring the local markets for herbs and spices to take back into your carry-on, and visit the local artisan shops for great souvenirs to remember your trip. The capital is also a great place to take a tour to learn more about the history of the island and its European and Creole culture; visit the Prehistory and Archeology Museum of Martinique or La Savane park to see the status of Napoleon's wife Josephine.
Admire the Flowers at Jardin de Balata
Martinique is also known as the island of flowers, and nothing shows off that natural beauty better than the Jardin de Balata botanical garden. Set around a traditional Creole-style house, visitors can wander the ground and admire the many flowers and plants throughout the property.
Visit La Savane des Esclaves
La Savane des Esclaves is a museum that allows visitors to learn about the history of slavery in Martinique; you can explore the grounds that comprise recreated homes from that era, a Creole medicinal garden, and more. There's dual-language signs in French and English to guide you around the property and provide information and context about what you're seeing.
Explore the Town of Saint-Anne
If you're looking for a relaxing day of sunbathing and sightseeing, spend a day in the town of Saint-Anne. This quaint and colorful beach town attracts anyone looking to hit the beach (Les Salines Beach is gorgeous for sunset strolls) or soak up some culture instead from the local stores and eateries. It’s also a great opportunity to take some gorgeous photos using the colorful buildings as the perfect backdrop.
Visit the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial
Paying homage to slaves lost at sea, the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial is one of the island’s must-see attractions for visitors. The tall, brooding statues facing the horizon were created just over 20 years ago in tribute to the 40 slaves who tragically drowned in 1830 when the vessel carrying them struck Diamond Rock by Le Diamant Beach (it was meant to dock in Anse Cafard). Seeing this memorial is one of the most powerful experiences you will have on the island and is a must for the first-time visitor.
Attend Martinique's Carnival
Martinique has great weather almost all year-round, but the best time to visit is in February for the carnival. The festive series of events and parties (called fêtes) are the biggest show of the year and are at the heart of Caribbean culture. Expect to see locals donning vibrant costumes showcasing the nation’s cultural pride and lots of dancing in the streets to live bands.
Visit La Pagerie Museum
During your trip, take some time to learn about the island’s historical ties to France. While in Fort-de-France, you will come across the statue of the former empress of France and wife to Napoleon, Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, who has ties to Martinique—she was born in the area of Les Trois-Ilets. At the Musée de la Pagerie, you can see the home of the French empress and historical artifacts, including love letters written by Napoleon and old equipment from the property’s days as a sugar mill.
Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches
Martinique has no shortage of amazing beaches for visitors. Depending on how you like to spend your time at the beach, whether you prefer to relax, snorkel, dive, or just take in some scenic views, you can choose one that fits your interest. Some of our favorites include black sandy enclave of Anse Noire or Diamant Beach for its beautiful views of Diamond Rock and also its waves that are perfect for surfing.