A tropical island known as the "Flower of the Caribbean," it should come as no surprise that the sheer beauty of Martinique provides a majority of the attractions. You will find some of the best sandy beaches in the world and clear blue waters swathed by palm trees. Martinique also offers a slice of Creole history in the town of Sainte-Anne, and the site of one of the worst natural disasters in the 20th century at Saint-Pierre. Nature lovers will not be disappointed at Balata Botanical Gardens. where a plethora of tropical plantlife is on display.
Sainte-Anne and Les Salines
Sainte-Anne is well known for its superb white sand beaches, including the most famous at Les Salines. It is the idyllic paradise, palm tree lined escape you dream about, complete with enticing clear blue waters to swim in. The town itself is very picturesque, containing quaint Creole housing. Many visitors also chose to stay overnight to unwind after the sun goes down, taking the opportunity to dine in one of the many seafood restaurants.
Address: Sainte-Anne, southeastern Martinique
Saint-Pierre and Mount Pelee
Mount Pelee is an active volcano in the far north of Martinique. In 1902 it erupted, wiping out the entire town of Saint-Pierre and killing 30,000 people, making it one of the most devastating natural disasters of the 20th century. Prior to the eruption, Saint-Pierre was the most important town in Martinique both culturally and economically, and was known as the "Paris of the Caribbean." The town was never restored to its former glory, and there are many historic remains to be seen. To learn more about Mount Pelee, you can visit the Volcanological Museum in town.
Address: Saint-Pierre, north Martinique
Le Diamant and Diamond Rock
Le Diamant has marvelous beaches, although many visitors come to see Diamond Rock, a small uninhabited island about two miles off the coast. The island was formed by volcanic activity and juts out of the sea at 175 ft tall. It was an important vantage point during the Napoleonic Wars between the French and British in the 19th century, and today holds ecological importance since it is considered to be the last refuge of the Couresse snake, an endemic species to Martinique. Visitors to Le Diamant can swim or dive in the waters, or take a boat trip to the Rock.
Address: Le Diamant, southwest Martinique
Le Carbet is a historic fishing town located in the northwest portion of Martinique, home to tranquil beaches and a good place to learn more about life on a Caribbean island. There is an old shipwreck in the water about 650 ft from the coast which can easily be seen on a snorkeling trip. The town is also home to a waterpark called Aqwaland, which makes for a fun day outing and an opportunity to cool off in one of the pools or slides.
Address: Le Carbet, northwestern Martinique
Balata Botanical Gardens
Celebrated for its flora and fauna, it is no surprise that one of the finest botanical gardens in the world is located in Martinique. The park was opened in 1986 and features over 3,000 varieties of tropical plants. Set on formidable grounds, it is an impressive and peaceful setting six miles from Fort de France. The gardens are open daily between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m and there is a small admission fee.
Address: Balata Botanical Gardens, central Martinique
Website: http://www.jardindebalata.fr (French only)
Trois-Ilets is a lively tourist town across the bay from the capital, accessible by a 30 minute ferry ride from Fort de France. Many visitors choose to stay here since it offers many conveniences. By day there are water sports and pretty beaches and by night some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Martinique. The town was also the birthplace of the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Empress of France and you can visit where she was born.
Address: Les Trois-Ilets, southwest Martinique