What to do in Martinique?
Are you planning to visit Martinique, in the Caribbean, for your next vacation?
Good idea! It is an ideal destination to enjoy heavenly beaches with white sand and turquoise water, but also for hiking enthusiasts.
To help you organize your stay in Martinique, I have prepared a guide of 22 things to do and see on the island.
From the best beaches such as Salines beach or Carbet beach, to hikes to Mount Pelee or Grand’Rivière, passing through towns steeped in history such as Saint-Pierre or Fort de France, there are a multitude of places of interests not to be missed during your trip.
So, what to do and see in Martinique?
Visit Martinique: the essentials
For those of you who wish to go to Martinique, I have prepared detailed itineraries according to the duration of your trip. I recommend that you read them after reading this article.
You will find all the practical information and lots of good addresses in Martinique. To read them, just click on the orange links below:
- Itinerary: A week in Martinique – Follow our advice for a dream stay!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Martinique – Tips and steps to prepare your stay!
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Martinique – All our advice to organize your trip!
They will allow you to organize your trip super easily!
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments at the end of the article. I will be happy to help you organize your stay.
1. Fort de France
We start this Martinique tourist guide with its capital: Fort-de-France.
Fort-de-France is a very lively city, with many markets and shops where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs.
Places of interest to visit in Fort-de-France:
- “La Savane”, the central park of Fort-de-France with many palm trees and statues, the best known of which (in the center of La Savane, you cannot miss it) represents the Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon I
- The Grand Marché or Spice Market, a covered market set up in a large hall and where you will find fresh produce and souvenirs (with the famous “Madras” fabric, a colorful checkered fabric emblematic of Martinique)
- Fort-Royal or Fort-Saint-Louis, a military fort listed as a Historic Monument. Built in 1638, it now houses the Naval Base of the French Navy in the West Indies
- The former Palais de Justice, destroyed by the earthquake of 1839 and rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century in the neo-classical style
- Saint-Louis Cathedral, famous for its bell tower
- The Departmental Museum of Archeology and Prehistory to learn more about the island in pre-Columbian times
- The Regional Museum of History and Ethnography which presents a large number of objects representative of Creole culture (furniture, jewelry and clothing, musical instruments, etc.)
- The Schoelcher Library, also classified as a Historic Monument for its unique architectural style mixing several influences.
In the city, you will find that many monuments, streets and places bear the name of Victor Schoelcher, an activist for the abolition of slavery in the French colonies.
To discover all the wonders of Martinique from the sky, I recommend flying over the island in a microlight. It’s the best way to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view and start your stay in style!
2. The beaches of Martinique
Where to go to the beach in Martinique?
Martinique has many postcard-worthy beaches. Wherever you are, you can always reach a heavenly beach in less than an hour by car.
Here is a small selection of the most beautiful beaches for swimming in Martinique:
- Salines beach: this beach located near the town of Sainte-Anne is one of the most famous and best known in Martinique. White sand, turquoise water, coconut palms : all the elements come together to make it a dream beach. A word of advice: go there on weekdays because on weekends the beach is taken over by local families who come there to picnic.
- Cap Macré: less known than the Salines and a little more hidden, this beach on the Atlantic coast is accessible by a small picturesque road. From this beach you can see the coral reef.
- Diamond Beach: also called Grande Anse du Diamant, this beach located on the Diamond Peninsula is ideal for wave lovers (it is very popular with bodyboarders). Avoid with children, it is considered rather dangerous because of the current. But it offers you a magnificent view of the Rocher du Diamant.
- Les Anses d’Arlet: with its church and the pontoon, this small village is picturesque. The beaches are very family friendly. Small preference for the beach of Petite Anse, quieter, or for the beach of Anse Noire (so called for its black sand of volcanic origin), where you can see magnificent fish and even turtles.
- Carbet beach with a splendid view of Mount Pelee. This is where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502.
- The cove Couleuvre, the wildest and most in the North. Accessible by a path in the forest and ideal for snorkeling.
If you wish, you can also hike to the Anse Couleuvre waterfall with a guide to discover the fauna and flora as well as the history of the site. It takes about 3h30 to make the round trip.
3. Take a boat trip in Martinique
For a relaxing day at sea, you can opt for a boat trip.
What’s great is that there is a whole variety of them on the island. I have selected the best cruises in Martinique for you:
- A day to meet dolphins.
On the program: conference on cetaceans with an oceanographic specialist, dolphin watching + snorkeling or first dive. Lunch is also included.
- Mini snorkeling cruise and dolphin watching.
This boat trip also allows you to go in search of dolphins but unlike the above excursion which lasts all day, this one is offered for half a day.
Note that when booking, you can also choose the afternoon excursion which is devoted to observing and swimming with sea turtles.
- A day in a racing trimaran including swimming stops, an aperitif and an eco-responsible basket.
- A day on a sailboat around the islets of Robert, to discover the east coast of Martinique.
The outing includes swimming, the possibility of snorkeling, paddleboarding and the discovery of Chancel Island, home to the endemic iguanas of the Lesser Antilles.
To enjoy a VIP experience and not end up with dozens of other people, I highly recommend booking a private boat tour.
You will thus rent a boat with a skipper who will take care of concocting a superb itinerary for you . This will be an opportunity to swim in the most beautiful spots such as the Joséphine basin or the Trapeze bath.
You can also meet dolphins or swim with sea turtles.
Motor boat, sailboat, catamaran or even yacht: it’s up to you to choose the boat that suits you to spend a dream day!
4. St. Peter
Saint-Pierre is certainly one of the most exotic towns in Martinique.
It is built on the ruins of the old Saint-Pierre, the first port of Martinique in the 19th century and completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902. You can still see the ruins of the Figuier district today. , an old theatre, and the dungeon of Cyparis (one of the survivors).
I advise you to go for a walk to the Franck Perret Volcanological Museum, where you really realize the tragedy that this event constituted. It is open every day.
If you are interested in history, Saint-Pierre is a very moving visit to make and one of the essential places to visit in Martinique. It is also labeled City of Art and History.
The port area of Saint-Pierre is also very popular for diving as there are many shipwrecks that sank following the eruption.
The Mount Pelee eruption of 1902 was the deadliest of the 20th century. Nearly 30,000 people were killed by the fiery clouds (that is, all the inhabitants, except 3).
5. Le Carbet
Le Carbet is a small town close to Saint-Pierre, which has its historical importance for two things:
- This is where Christopher Columbus would have landed on June 15, 1502.
- The painter Paul Gauguin lived there in 1887. You can visit the museum where reproductions of his paintings are exhibited.
What to see in Le Carbet, Martinique:
- The Saint Jacques church which dates from the 18th century
- The Slave Foot, a statue
- The Butterfly Garden where it is possible to take a 15-20 minute guided tour
- The former sugar plantation of Anse Latouche and its botanical garden. There is also a zoo there.
- The Pitons du Carbet massif, whose hiking trails are reserved for seasoned athletes because they are all quite difficult with very steep climbs and dangerous passages
- Carbet beach.
6. Hike from Grand’Rivière to Anse Couleuvre
Grand’Rivière is a fishing village located in the very north of Martinique, very picturesque.
If there isn’t much to do in the village, you can simply stroll along the seafront and enjoy its black sand beach. On a clear day, you can see the island of Dominica from Grand’Rivière.
It is also from here that the trail that connects Grand’Rivière to Anse Couleuvre starts , one of the most beautiful hikes to do in Martinique. You can walk in the middle of the virgin forest, in the middle of the luxuriant vegetation and admire many points of view on the Caribbean Sea and the Anses.
Allow about 6 hours of walking to cover the 18 km. The hike can also be done in the opposite direction.
For the return of the hike, don’t forget to book your boat trip to take you back to your starting point. Otherwise you left for 6 hours of walking!
The easiest way is to go through the tourist office, which will recommend a service provider. Count 15€ per person.
To be reserved at least 48 hours in advance.
7. Pointe du Bout
La Pointe du Bout, located in the commune of Trois-Îlets, is a seaside resort very popular with tourists. This is where you find the big hotels with their privatized plot of beach and it is therefore one of the most touristic sites in Martinique.
What to visit in Pointe du Bout, Martinique:
- Anse Mitan beach, which is one of the busiest on the island
- The Navy
- The Creole Village where there are many craft and souvenir shops, as well as cafes and restaurants.
At Pointe du Bout and Trois-Îlets, you can also indulge in lots of really nice water activities:
- A jet ski ride to discover the most beautiful places in Martinique from the sea – Several durations to choose from: from 45 minutes to a full day.
- An introduction to driving a jet ski
- A kitesurf lesson with a state-certified instructor
- A windsurfing lesson
- A snorkeling excursion to explore the seabed and observe fish and corals.
And lovers of outdoor activities will not be left out with, for example:
- A trial motorcycle outing to fill up on adrenaline. Accessible even if you have never driven a motorcycle!
- A 1-hour quad ride in Trois Îlets.
If you are staying in Fort-de-France, you can go to Pointe du Bout directly by boat.
8. Balata Garden
The Jardin de Balata is a real gem for nature lovers. Its visit is a must during a stay in Martinique.
In this garden designed by the landscape horticulturist (and artist) Jean-Philippe Thoze, one can observe more than 3000 species of tropical plants and flowers, but also many hummingbirds.
The walk in the garden lasts about 1h30, and it is very pleasant: punctuated by ponds, benches to rest, and suspension bridges to observe nature from above.
The Jardin de Balata is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Full price entry costs €14.
Visit the garden of Balata in the early morning. You’ll have a better chance of spotting hummingbirds early in the morning, when there aren’t many people around yet.
9. The Route of the Trace
Traveling the route de la Trace is one of the coolest activities to do in Martinique.
Route de la Trace is the nickname given to the RN 3 , a 29 km long and winding national road , linking Fort-de-France to the town of Morne-Rouge. It allows you to cross the tropical forest and contemplate magnificent panoramas, among the most spectacular on the island.
You can make many stops along the way:
- at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart which offers a magnificent view of Fort-de-France
- at the Jardin de Balata which I told you about above
- at the spa resort of Absalon from where a footpath leads to a waterfall
- at the White River for swimming and picnicking
- at the Saut Gendarme waterfall, in reality a succession of small pools and several waterfalls
- at the Domaine d’Emeraude: 3 trails allow you to explore the 24 hectares of this natural park and the tropical forest
Do you know why the Route de la Trace is called that?
For all the hiking trails (“traces”) that start from it. The best known, which I advise you not to miss if you like hiking, is the Trace des Jésuites in Fonds-Saint-Denis. Path formerly taken by the monks, it does not present particular difficulties and makes it possible to make a beautiful hike of approximately 3 hours one way through the jungle.
10. Climbing Mount Pelee
Do you like hiking? Climbing Mount Pelée is one of the things not to be missed on your trip!
Volcano still active and whose last big eruption took place on May 8, 1902, the place is rather calm today and therefore accessible. It is a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists alike.
There are several possible paths to climb to the top of the volcano, at 1395 meters above sea level:
- The Aileron trail, the shortest and easiest, starting from Morne-Rouge, the town at the end of the Route de la Trace.
- The Grande Savane trail, starting from Le Prêcheur
- The trail from Grand Rivière
- The trail from Macouba.
Whatever the path taken on one of the slopes, a hike to Mount Pelée is reserved for good walkers because it is really very steep. The best time to climb the volcano is from December to March, during the dry season.
For more security, I also recommend that you climb the mountain with a guide.
The departure is from Morne-Rouge and you will be accompanied by an experienced guide, with a state mountain guide certificate.
To enjoy the view of the Atlantic and the mountains from the top of the volcano, I advise you to leave very early in the morning. You will thus have less haze which begins to accumulate from 10 am.
11. The Caravelle Peninsula
Another path where to go hiking in Martinique and which is worth the detour: the tour of the Presqu’île de la Caravelle.
You will find many things to see and do on this eastern peninsula, including the small fishing village of Tartane and quiet, sheltered beaches.
The place is also the ideal place to try your hand at surfing.
You can also walk the paths of the Caravelle reserve accompanied by a passionate guide who will show you the most beautiful landscapes of the place.
12. Go around the rum distilleries
As you probably know, Martinique is also known for its excellent rum.
There are therefore many distilleries to visit : you can taste local rums and learn more about their production:
- The Depaz distillery (Saint-Pierre)
- The Neisson distillery (Le Carbet)
- The JM distillery (between Basse-Pointe and Macouba)
- The Saint-James distillery (Sainte-Marie) where you can also visit the Rum Museum
- The Trois-Rivières distillery (Sainte-Luce)
- La Favorite distillery (Fort-de-France)
You will have free access to the distilleries shop and enjoy a free tasting. On the other hand, if you wish to visit the premises and the domain, it is chargeable.
13. The Pagerie Museum
During your trip to Martinique, you can visit the Musée de la Pagerie.
It is located in Trois-Ilets, in the Domaine de la Pagerie, where Joséphine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon I and future Empress of France, was born.
This very well done museum immerses us in the history of this imperial couple, and especially in the life of Empress Josephine from her childhood to her arranged marriage.
The gardens are also very pleasant to walk around.
Here are the hours of the Musée de la Pagerie:
- Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The full price is €5.
14. Cape Town 110
Cap 110 is a memorial dedicated to slavery, located at Anse Caffard, which was erected by the city of Diamant in 1998 (150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery).
Designed by Martinican artist Laurent Valère, this memorial represents 15 white reinforced concrete busts, arranged in a triangle, looking out to sea.
They symbolize all the victims of the period and have become a place of meditation for the inhabitants.
The place was not chosen at random. It was there, in 1830, when slavery was already illegal, that a ship full of slaves ran aground and most of them died.
These statues are full of symbols. Not only are they represented in white because in the West Indies it is the color of mourning, but their arrangement in a triangle is not insignificant either since it evokes triangular trade.
During your tour in Martinique, I advise you to go to Sainte-Anne, a village in the south of the island.
It is very popular for its beaches (especially the Salines which I have already told you about), but the village itself also has a lot of charm, with its craft market and the Church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Anne.
In addition, the village is the starting point for many hikes.
I recommend the Savane des Pétrifications and Anse Trabaud hike, which is really different from the others you can do on the island.
With a length of 4 km, the trail, which starts from Anse à Prunes, passes through undergrowth, marshes and runs along the coast, passing through several coves until arriving at a vast arid and desert plain. . A very surprising landscape in Martinique, you can even see cacti there!
Continuing a little further, you will come across the Pointe de l’Enfer where the waves crash against the cliffs. The hike ends at Anse Trabaud, a beautiful beach, ideal for cooling off before returning.
The Savannah trail is part of one of the great hikes in the South of Martinique: the Trace des Caps, which runs along the coast for more than 27 km. As it represents about 12 hours of walking, it is easier and more practical to do it in several stages.
16. Go diving in Martinique
Le Rocher du Diamant is visible from the town of Le Diamant, and it is one of the favorite places for diving enthusiasts. You can see coral reefs but also volcanic rock as well as all kinds of colorful fish, rays, moray eels and even turtles.
Be careful, diving at Rocher du Diamant is not recommended for beginners because it is a site with difficult conditions (mainly currents). We recommend about 15 dives before you can go there.
But if you are experienced no problem, it is one of the best sites to dive during your vacation in Martinique.
And if you want to see lots of multicolored fish without being a diving pro, I recommend that you choose a first dive instead. Several service providers spread all over the island offer half-day outings from €50 per person.
For those who have completed level 1 FFESSM / CMAS or PADI Open Water, I advise you to book this exploration dive in the bay of Grande Anse d’Arlet instead. You can observe lobsters, turtles and barracudas.
Finally, if you want to take advantage of your stay in Martinique to pass your Padi Open Water certification and be able to dive all over the world.
The Diamond Rock has an unusual history since the British and the French disputed it throughout the 19th century. In 1804, English navigators occupied the rock for 17 months before it was recaptured by the French.
17. Cliff Gorge
The Gorges de la Falaise are located in the vicinity of Ajoupa Bouillon.
The place allows you to take a walk along the Falaise River which crosses impressive rock walls to form the Gorges. The hike is exclusively accompanied by a guide because it includes canyoning passages with slides and jumps in the water.
Plan your bathing suit and an old pair of sneakers.
It is better to book in advance, but the walk is not possible if the rains are too heavy.
A great idea for family activities on the island of Martinique.
18. Go canyoning in Martinique
If you want to go canyoning during your holidays in Martinique, in addition to the Gorges de la Falaise, I recommend other super nice places!
Do not hesitate to click on the links below to book and choose the canyon according to the difficulty:
- Canyoning in the rainforest with jumps, rappels and slides – 3 canyons to choose from – Beginner
- Canyon of the Rivière Mitan, in the northern part of the island – Beginner
- Canyon de l’Alma or des Sœurs – Reserved for experienced sportsmen and canyonists.
19. Slave Savannah
La Savane des Esclaves is the perfect place to learn more about the history of Martinique and especially about the period of slavery.
Entirely created by a Martinican passionate about history, the 3-hectare park reconstructs an Amerindian village to tell the life of the first inhabitants of the island but also has more than 20 boxes where the way of life of slaves on the plantations is explained.
Staged in a splendid botanical garden, the place is really well done and very interesting. The visit is guided only.
For the address and the schedules, it is on the official site.
20. Nautical activities in Martinique
Les Anses d’Arlet and the other beaches of Martinique are great places if you like water activities. You will have the choice between:
- Seabob is the brand new trendy activity! This electric underwater scooter allows you to move on and under water at a maximum speed of 20 km/h.
- Subwing, another must-do activity in Martinique! The Subwing consists of 2 wings towed by a boat and which you hang on to go underwater
- Towed buoy
- A jet ski excursion of 2 hours or a day, departing from Carbet beach
- Another jet ski tour, but departing from Fort-de-France – Also available from Sainte-Luce by clicking here!
- Rent a kayak to explore the mangroves and lagoons at your leisure.
21. Discover Martinican gastronomy
To visit Martinique is also to discover its gastronomy!
If you like fish and seafood, you will enjoy the Caribbean snapper and sea bass , but also the lobster and conch (a shellfish cooked in all the sauces on the island).
Cod is also very cooked, in acras or fierce avocado.
For meat lovers, Martinique is famous for its colombo, a very spicy dish that can be concocted with chicken, pork or lamb.
On the sweet side, the flan and the blancmange are part of the typical recipes of Martinique. I also advise you to taste an apple-cinnamon, this uniquely braided buttery brioche that can be found in all the bakeries on the island.
If you want to eat in a restaurant, I recommend:
- Le Bambou in Morne-Rouge: a family restaurant, on the Route de la Trace, which serves typical dishes of Creole cuisine. The cod fritters with coconut milk are delicious.
- La Table de Mamy Nounou on the Caravelle peninsula (in Tartane): another family restaurant that revisits the flavors of Martinique. Originality and refinement of the dishes are on the program, plus a great welcome and a panoramic terrace. I recommend the lobster mousse and the grilled locals with aged rum caramel sauce, a treat.
22. Attend Carnival
The Carnival of Fort-de-France is a must for many Martiniquans.
It takes place over several days, beginning on Shrove Sunday and ending on Ash Wednesday.
The Carnival is quite a show, with street orchestras, contests and elections of Carnival queens and kings. And above all, everyone participates.
There are also specificities specific to Martinique:
- The “bradjak”: a procession of cars decorated in connection with a current event
- The “Mariannes lapo fig”: characters disguised with banana peels
- The “Macoumè”: men disguised as women
- The “gwo siwo negroes”: they symbolize slaves and paint themselves with a mixture of cane syrup and charcoal to disguise themselves
- Le Vaval: the wooden puppet that is burned on Ash Wednesday.
FAQ – I answer your questions about Martinique
How many days to visit Martinique?
I advise you to plan at least a week to visit Martinique.
But if you really want to do everything and enjoy great activities, the best is to stay there for 10 or 15 days.
Do not hesitate to read my itineraries to organize your stay and your visits as easily as possible:
- Itinerary: A week in Martinique
- Itinerary: 10 days in Martinique
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Martinique
When to go on a trip to Martinique?
The best season to visit the island of Martinique is the dry season between December and April.
Pay attention to the cyclone period which generally extends from August to October.
What to do in Martinique with the family?
Here is a small selection of all the things to do in Martinique with children:
- Take them to the beach and have a picnic
- Discover the Fort-de-France market for its smells and colors
- Visit Balata Garden
- Take a boat trip to see the dolphins
- Explore the Ceron dwelling which houses a superb tropical park
Are you going to Martinique? Read also
Discover all our articles on Martinique: all articles on Martinique are listed here.
- Itinerary: A week in Martinique – Follow our advice for a dream stay!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Martinique – Tips and steps to prepare your stay!
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Martinique – All our advice to organize your trip!
- Road trip in Martinique: The best itineraries for 7, 10 and 15 days on the island