Planning Your Trip
Things to Do
What to Eat & Drink
The French Caribbean island of Martinique has become increasingly popular with American travelers over the last few years. Its stunning beaches, unique culture, and quiet ambiance make it a relaxing getaway that offers you something different from notable other islands like Jamaica or Barbados. For those interested in planning a trip to the island of Martinique, our guide is a one-stop-shop to creating the perfect vacation itinerary for your next trip.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: Martinique's tropical climate is the best experience during the fall and winter season between November through March during the dry season. Spring and summer go into the rainy season, and at the height of summer, the humidity can be intense. November and December during is the peak of holiday travel but also have the perfect weather for travelers.
- Language: French is the official language of Martinique, and you will also find a sizable part of the population that also speaks a local Creole dialect. While some locals may know English, it would be wise to practice some conversational phrases in French to fully explore the island and make your trip easier.
- Currency: Euros are the standard currency throughout Martinique.
- Getting Around: If you want to explore the entire island to get the full experience, you may want to consider renting a car or hiring a driver to work with throughout your trip. Taxis are costly, and apps like Uber are not available. Public transport isn't widely known. For those who don't want the hassle of dealing with a car, it is easier to get around by staying by Fort-de-France or Pointe De Bout to access the ferry that runs on a schedule and can take you around the island.
- Travel Tip: Some of the best places to visit around Martinique are locally-owned and family-run, which means they may not always have credit card machines. It's crucial to take out a certain amount of cash to make your trip around the island easier, especially if you plan to explore outside the tourist centers like Fort-de-France. Try to make some money out of the ATM at the airport before leaving for the hotel for the cheapest rates.
Things To Do
Like most places in the Caribbean, Martinique offers various amazing beaches, great hiking, and water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, catamaran trips, and even dolphin watching. Outside of the usual, the island's unique culture also provides unique experiences to learn about their blend of influences derived from their African, French, and South Asian roots.
On your first trip to Martinique, you must do the following:
- Visit Diamond Rock and relax on the island's most popular beach, Le Diamant. It is also one of the best places to surf on the island.
- Just a short drive from Diamond Rock is the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial that sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The statues pay tribute to African slaves who drowned at sea nearby and is one of the most powerful experiences you will have during your stay.
- Learn about the island's history of rum at the Clement distillery and take a tour of the property's botanical garden and Creole house before ending your visit with a rum tasting.
- Spend a day exploring the capital city of Fort-de-France to learn about the history of the island and wander into its spice markets to enjoy the local food stalls.
You can find more inspiration to plan out your trip to the French West Indies with our guide to the top things to try during your stay in Martinique.
What to Eat & Drink
Martinique has no shortage of restaurants that offer a set of unique dining experiences for every traveler's preferences. Pointe Du Bout is one of the tourist centers where many hotels are located have an assortment of fine dining and lounges to unwind with a great of friends. Spots like Le Kano are just steps away from the beach and offer both ambiance and great foods for nearby visitors.
Creole cuisine is the center of the food scene in Martinique, so you can find many local restaurants that will serve traditional dishes with other Caribbean-style foods cooked in a fresh blend of spices that grow on the island. Expect to see many seafood-inspired dishes with homemade creole sauces and curries that reflect its South Asian influences.
Rhum agricole is the spirit of choice in Martinique, with various rhum-inspired cocktails to choose from. The national drink is called Ti' Punch, which can be found in almost any restaurant around the island. Planteur punch is another popular option.
Where to Stay
Accommodations in Martinique can vary from high-end establishments, family-run bed & breakfasts to local Airbnbs that can be booked around the island. Pointe De Bout is the best option for hotels for travelers who want easily accessible to the ferry and has more English speakers on staff to help you navigate around the island. Fort-de-France also has local rentals to choose from for visitors looking to stay close to the airport.
The best options for five-star retreats are La Suite Villa, situated in a private enclave with luxury private villas for guests to choose from in Trios-Îlets, and the Hotel Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa located in Le Francois. It is important to keep in mind that Martinique is not an all-inclusive big chain resort chain destination outside their one Club Med location that offers food packages with their accommodations, so plan according.
After the popularity of Norwegian Airlines' low-cost direct flights from New York and Baltimore to the French West Indies, many American airline carriers started to follow the trend. American Airlines offers affordable fares to the island with a layover in either Miami or San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Air Canada offering flights from Toronto and Montreal. Travelers can also opt to fly into the nearby island of Guadeloupe through JetBlue and catch the ferry to Martinique and make a connection through one of the smaller carriers like Air Caraibes. The island has just one airport, Aimé Césaire International Airport, in Lamentin, a suburb of Fort-de-France.
Culture and Customs
- Martinique is under France, so expect many cultural similarities that you would see traveling through different French cities. When entering stores, always remember to greet associates with eye contact and say "Bonjour."
- English is limited on the island, and it is respectful to try at least to speak French when dining and shopping at some local establishments. Be sure to pick up some quick phrases. Smaller places outside the city may not have menus in English, so have your translator app ready.
- Carry small bills with you so you can shop easily in local establishments that may not have a credit card machine. U.S. and Caribbean dollars are not accepted anywhere on the island so take money out of the ATM before you get out of the airport and then go to the currency conversion center to get smaller notes.
- It may be worthwhile to plan an excursion to nearby islands like Dominica, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe. Visitors on Martinique can take advantage of the express ferry that offers one-way rides and round-trip rides at a cheaper rate than taking a flight and going through customs all over again.