Itinerary of things to do in Martinique
Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Martinique and its picture postcard landscapes are a dream come true for anyone looking for heavenly beaches and tropical flora. Known as the "Island of Flowers", Martinique is part of the volcanic arc of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, between Dominica to the north and St Lucia to the south. It has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2021 for its entire land and sea territory. Like other overseas islands, it is divided into four districts: Saint-Pierre in the northwest, La Trinité in the northeast, Fort-de-France in the centre and Le Marin in the south.
Although Martinique is a small country with a length of 60 km and a width of 30 km, there is a lot to do in Martinique and this article will prove it! So if you're planning to go there soon, find out here the best things to do in Martinique!
The south of Martinique, a beach paradise
Freshly landed at the international airport of Martinique, in the commune of Lamentin, after about eight hours of flight from Paris, you will surely have only one desire: to relax at the edge of the paradisiacal beaches of the south of the island. And this is obviously THE thing to do in Martinique. So let's start this journey of things to do in Martinique in the south, in the district of Le Marin, the most touristic area of the island.
Creole cuisine and water activities in Anses-d'Arlet
Anyone travelling to Martinique must come back with a photo of the village of Anses-d'Arlet and its church from the end of its pontoon, above the turquoise waters at the edge of its beach. Les Anses-d'Arlet is a commune with a charming village, on the edge of the Caribbean Sea, which is a good way to start this trip to Martinique. It is also an opportunity to discover the culinary culture of the island thanks to the many local restaurants here, one of the most important things to do on a trip being of course to taste the specialities of the region you are visiting! Prepare your taste buds and taste some of the Creole dishes of Martinique:
- As a starter, start with cod, shrimp or vegetable accras to whet your appetite, or try the ferocious one, made of avocado flesh, de-salted cod, manioc flour and chilli pepper, a great name in Martinique gastronomy!
- For the main course, many spicy recipes will delight you, but it is essential to try seafood (for example lambi, a mollusc made from conch shells), as well as smoked chicken, a must if you like street food!
- And for dessert, let yourself be tempted by cinnamon apple, a fruit from the island that lives up to its name; a banana gratin, a very interesting sweet and sour mix; or simply a chocolate butter bread that will remind you of French pastries.
Once your belly is full, you will have enough energy to do all sorts of water activities in Anses-d'Arlet: wakeboarding, water-skiing, paddle, diving and a boat trip to meet the Caribbean dolphins, you won't have time to get bored! Anses-d'Arlet also offers some incredible spots for snorkelling with sea turtles, including Anse Dufour, a beautiful white sand beach, and a few minutes' walk away Anse Noire, the only black sand beach in southern Martinique, with a wild appearance reminiscent of the island's northern beaches.
Introduction to the history of Martinique in Trois-Îlets
The commune of Trois-Îlets is one of the most popular places for tourists in Martinique, and for good reason: its coastline is lined with beaches facing the Bay of Fort-de-France, perfect for taking part in water sports activities in Trois-Îlets, particularly at Pointe du Bout and its beautiful beach of Anse Mitan: kitesurfing, diving, jet ski tours, etc., and even parasailing!
It is also here that the village of pottery is located, worth a visit for its Creole houses and old pottery workshops. One of the things to do in Martinique is also to take an interest in its history. In Trois-Îlets is the Savane des Esclaves, an open-air museum not to be missed in Martinique, in the middle of a nature that you can have fun riding on quad bikes, buggies, horses and even motocross!
One of the symbols of Martinique: the Diamond Rock
It is unthinkable to visit Martinique without considering the famous Diamond Rock, renowned for being an incredible diving site, but also for offering a superb spectacle at sunset. Whether from Morne Larcher or Le Diamant beach, admiring its walls glistening at certain times of the day depending on the light is one of the things to do in Martinique.
Also, on your way along the coast of Le Diamant is the Cap 110 memorial, where 15 statues stand in remembrance of the sinking of a slave ship in 1830. It is an impressive monument to see, with the Maison du Bagnard, a small colourful building not far away, also worth a photo. Discover this coastline on a jet ski trip to the Diamond Rock.
Sainte-Anne Tower, southernmost tip of Martinique
If you have ever looked for the most beautiful beach in Martinique, you will have seen the name of the commune of Sainte-Anne come up: indeed, this is where you will find the beach of Les Salines, a long and splendid beach of white sand bordered by coconut trees. A real postcard landscape, just like the pond just behind it, a paradise for Martinique's birds. And that's not all, as Sainte-Anne also has other equally beautiful beaches, including Anse Trabaud facing the Atlantic Ocean, as well as Anse Michel a little further north, facing the superb islet of Chevalier. How about exploring the coast and admiring the beautiful beaches on a jet ski tour from Sainte-Luce?
If you want a change from fare niente and swimming at the beach, you can hike around the îlet Chevalier, or walk along the Atlantic coast of Sainte-Anne to the Oeil Bleu at Cap Ferré, a natural pool with a bewitching turquoise blue colour, but where swimming is dangerous because of the unpredictable ocean swell. And if you're not afraid of the heat, take a tour of the Savane des Pétrifications, the hottest place on the island because it's a desert.
Other activities not to be missed in southern Martinique
Apart from the communes of Anses-d'Arlet, Trois-Îlets, Le Diamant and Sainte-Anne, you'll probably also spend some time in Sainte-Luce, mentioned above. This spot is popular for its beaches and the water activities it offers, including jet skiing for those seeking adrenaline. Another point of interest for hiking in the Le Marin district is Trou-Cochon, on the Vauclin peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean side, renowned for the mangrove swamp that thrives in several places in Martinique. And if you are interested in the flora of Martinique, don't hesitate to visit the Jardin de la Montagne, in the commune of Le Vauclin.
The southern region of the island of Martinique is full of things to do both on its coastline and inland, offering the many activities we have just seen in its most popular communes. It is undeniably THE region of Martinique not to be missed, whether you are looking for adventure or just a relaxing holiday.
The centre of Martinique, a place of effervescence
Let's go back to Le Lamantin and its international airport, your arrival point on the island. Apart from the south and its tourist activity, it is in the central region of Martinique that you will find the most animation: it is here that the capital, Fort-de-France, is located.
Things to see in Fort-de-France, capital of Martinique
Only ten minutes from Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, Fort-de-France is often the city that tourists choose to visit first upon their arrival in Martinique. It provides an introduction to Martinique's culture and history through its monuments and bustle. It is here that you can see how colourful Martinique's culture is: the colour of the buildings, the clothes, but also the local products presented on the stalls of the famous covered market of Fort-de-France. You will be enchanted by the warmth of the local population!
Whether it's a day trip or more, you'll have plenty to do in Fort-de-France: between visiting the Saint-Louis cathedral, the Schoelcher library, the Saint-Louis fort with its iguanas and many others, as well as shopping for souvenirs and typical Martinique products, you won't have time to get bored!
Discovering rum and its history in Le François
Martinique is a land of sugar cane cultivation, but it is also a producer of rum and has many distilleries. The most famous of these and the most visited is the Habitation Clément in Le François, an estate in the heart of the sugar cane plantations transformed into a museum that allows you to discover the history of this old rum distillery that you must see in Martinique.
Apart from Habitation Clément, Le François is also popular for its access to the Baignoire de Joséphine, a swimming area on white sandy shallows between Oscar and Thierry islets in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a place accessible during an excursion by catamaran, or by transparent kayak, a unique activity to sail on the turquoise waters of the Baignoire de Joséphine!
Wild walk on the Caravelle peninsula
Still on the Atlantic side, a little further north of Le François is the Presqu'île de la Caravelle, a must-see place to visit in Martinique. Declared a National Nature Reserve of Martinique in 1975, it is a superb place to admire the ocean waves crashing on its cliffs and to discover Martinique's flora, including the famous mangroves.
Another thing to do on the Presqu'île de la Caravelle is to pass by the beach of Tartane and its fishermen's village before visiting the Dubuc castle, located shortly before the Caravelle lighthouse. Before your return to the town of La Trinité where you can continue your hike to see the curiosity of the Pink Mangrove of Trinité, don't hesitate to take a surfing lesson on the Presqu'île de la Caravelle!
Sports activities around the Pitons du Carbet chain
In the east of Martinique, above Fort-de-France and the commune of Saint-Joseph, are the Pitons du Carbet. There are five of them, the highest reaching an altitude of 1196 m, and they are full of hiking trails accessible to all levels. This mountain range is also a privileged place for canyoning in Martinique, whether it be a descent in the canyons of the Mitan River, the Piton de l'Alma, the Absalon or others, and thus discover beautiful waterfalls, including the most famous on the island of Martinique: those of Didier and Saut du Gendarme.
Not far away is the famous Jardin de Balata, which is definitely a must-see in Martinique. This will allow you to learn more about the island's flora and fauna, with the garden featuring many species of tropical plants, while enjoying a pleasant walk with high passes on bridges suspended 15m between the garden's tallest trees. A great way to relax after all that hiking and canyoning!
The centre of the island of Martinique has fewer paradisiacal beaches than the south, but just as many things to do! It is therefore a part of the island not to be neglected during your trip and to which you can devote a few days, one of which will be spent in Fort-de-France and its lively streets which will immerse you in the warm atmosphere of Martinique's cities.
The north of Martinique, the wild domain of the tropical forest
By car, let's take the famous Route de la Trace. About thirty kilometres long, it links Fort-de-France to Ajoupa-Bouillon, in the north of Martinique. Unlike the south, this is a mountainous region with the highest peak and highest point of the island, Montagne Pelée, reaching 1,397 m in altitude. The rainforest dominates its lush and wild lands which are worth visiting during a stay in Martinique.
Discovery of Saint-Pierre and its history
On the Caribbean Sea side, Saint-Pierre is a commune located at the foot of Mount Pelée. Destroyed by the eruption of the volcano in 1902, it was rebuilt, but there are still ruins that you can visit: the ruins of the old church and the theatre are to be seen, as well as the memorial of the disaster. It is also by diving that you can discover an exceptional underwater site in Saint-Pierre, the hot springs.
And if you are looking for other things to do in the area, don't hesitate to take the short walk along the Canal des Esclaves, also known as the Beauregard Canal, and to walk in the Domaine de l'Emeraude, a beautiful garden where you can discover the fauna and flora of Martinique.
The Montagne Pelée volcano, an emblem to see in Martinique
Whether you are a hiking enthusiast or an occasional hiker, it is difficult to miss the ascent of Mont Pelée, the highest peak in Martinique. Its highest point, nicknamed the Chinese, is at an altitude of 1,397 m. From the foot of the mountain to the top, expect a change in temperature! Various hiking trails are also accessible around Montagne Pelée, including one through the Gorges de la Falaise, which runs along a river with waterfalls and natural pools, giving you a refreshing dip if it's hot!
Cultural activities in Sainte-Marie
If a visit to the Habitation Clément was not enough, you will enjoy discovering the Rum Museum and the Saint-James distillery in Sainte-Marie! The commune, located on the Atlantic coast, is also known for its tombolo (sandbank) linking it to the islet of Sainte-Marie: crossing it is considered a must-do in Martinique. And for more fun, why not decide to ride a horse for a nice ride along the ocean?
A visit to Sainte-Marie can also be completed with a visit to the Maison du Bèlè, which has an exhibition about this Martinican musical genre, as well as classes to help you discover it in more detail, a real immersion in the culture of the island of Martinique. And if you want a more leisurely activity for the end of the afternoon, go to the Banana Museum, with a tasting at the end of the visit, but also the purchase of banana-based products that you might never have imagined!
End of the trip at the northern tip of Martinique, along its wild coast
If there is one commune in the north of Martinique that you should not miss, it is Grand'Rivière. Wild and isolated, its village, accessible only by a single road, really gives you the impression of being at the end of the world. Its historic bridge sets the tone, surrounded by a lush tropical jungle. Its typical West Indian houses and beautiful black sand beach at the foot of the cliffs make Grand'Rivière a village of singular charm. If you can, take the hiking trail from Grand'Rivière to Anse Couleuvre: in the middle of the jungle, in an area completely free of buildings, you will experience one of the most beautiful hikes in Martinique, with the beautiful black sand beach of Anse Couleuvre as your reward. And if you are lucky, you may even come across a typical mygale of the island, the matoutou falaise, recognisable by its bluish coat.
There are also other things to do at Anse Couleuvre, apart from swimming in the waters of its beach: you can tackle the hike to the 120m high Couleuvre waterfall, the highest in Martinique, or take a more leisurely stroll through the grounds of the Habitation Céron, a 17th century sugar-coal house
Less visited than the south of the island, as it is wilder and has fewer beaches, the north of Martinique remains an incredible region that is worth a visit, if only to see Mont Pelée up close. There is a lot to do between hiking, canyoning, cultural visits, etc., the objective being to enjoy the wild landscapes of this side of the island while doing great activities!
Any other activities before you leave?
It's always hard to tell ourselves that our trip will end, but all good things do! So before you leave Martinique, try taking a ride in a yole, a small traditional Martinican boat, and go deep-sea fishing with locals. Admiring the island's coastline from the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean is very pleasant. It is also possible to observe the island from the sky during a panoramic flight in an autogyro, a microlight helicopter over Martinique, which will give you a last look at the island! But after reading this article, it's hard to believe that your trip to the Isle of Flowers will be your last as there are so many things to discover.
Don't wait any longer and pack your bags, the many activities to do in Martinique are waiting for you! And if you have the opportunity, don't hesitate to go to the neighbouring islands, including Guadeloupe with its best outdoor spots.