Martinique On a BudgetMartinique is an overseas region of France located in the eastern Caribbean Sea, north of St. Lucia and south of Dominica. The island's culture is a unique blend of French and Caribbean influences, especially prevalent in its cooking and music. Also popular are Martinique's many beautiful beaches, some featuring white and others black sand due to its volcanic origins.
Top Tourist AttractionsAs the gateway to the island, Fort-de-France has plenty to offer in history and sightseeing. One landmark is Fort Saint-Louis - a fortress on a peninsula of the harbor, built during the reign of Louis XIII. Today it houses a French naval base with some parts open to the public as a museum. Another impressive structure is now a library known as Bibliotheque Schoelcher, whose architecture is probably the island's nicest colonial example. There is also a small museum about rum making in the former Dillon distillery, as well as a botanical garden called the Jardin de Balata just outside the city which showcases more than 200 species of tropical plants and flowers. The town of Macouba is another scenic place to visit - a former tobacco town with views of the sea and mountains and sometimes the neighboring island of Dominica on a clear day.
Beyond history and scenic viewpoints, Martinique is also host to a good deal of beautiful beaches - most of which are located on the island's southern end. Les Salines is one of the most popular beaches, lined with restaurants, snack bars, fresh fruit and ice cream vendors as well as places selling souvenirs and swimming gear. Much less frequented is the nearby Grande Terre des Salines off to the left, though even more secluded is Anse Meuniere o Moustique. Others include Pointe du Marin which has plenty of amenities, Anse Figuier, Anse Mabouyas, Le Diamant, Grande Anse, and Anse Noir e Anse Dufour (a black and a white sand beach) which features an abundance of wildlife on its sea floor.
Martinique is part of the Antilles archipelago, volcanic in origin and dominated by Mount Pelee to the north which erupted in 1902, destroying the city of Saint Pierre (the capital before the eruption). Since then, the city has been rebuilt on a smaller scale with some historic remains, including diving opportunities to see the ship wreckage from the volcanic event. Today, the capital city is Fort-de-France which serves as a main point of entry for visitors. The northern end of the island features rain forests and black sand beaches, the interior is very mountainous, and the southern end is best defined by white sand beaches that are popular with tourists. Other important towns and cities include Sainte-Anne in the south with easy access to beaches, Trois-Ilets across the harbor from the capital featuring resorts and restaurants, the beach town of Le Diamant, and many more quaint towns and villages all over the island.
The major draw to Martinique is its beaches, making the island a great location to engage in beachside activities like swimming, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and more. The interior of the island also has plenty of opportunity with hiking destinations like the waterfalls of Cascade Didier. Another popular natural feature is the canyon of Gorges de la Falaise - a unique hike that requires some swimming. There is a fee since the property is privately owned, but it is a one-of-a-kind experience nonetheless.
Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport is the center of operations as far as flight transportation goes. It is located in Le Lamentin, a suburb of the capital Fort-de-France, and has services provided by airlines such as Air Antilles Express, Air Caraibes, Air France, Air Canada Rouge, American Eagle, Ava Air, and others which operate seasonally.
The island can also be reached by boat from the surrounding islands. Once on the island, public transportation in Martinique is very limited. Taxis are expensive and there are very few buses, but there are some shuttle boat services.