Three years ago, I had no idea about Martinique. After my friend told me about her plans to travel there, I decided google it. It’s part of the French Antilles.
Wow! I had completely forgotten about them even though I was one the best students in geography.
In January, Martinique was back on my mind this time when I was looking for tickets to get away from the freezer-like weather in New York.
The Dominican Republic, Barbados and Mexico were options, but the idea to go to an almost unknown part of Caribbean was for me more alluring and also because the island was unfamiliar to my friends, family and coworkers. They even thought it was in the Mediterranean Sea.
Martinique is a little island that’s part of France with a pinch of Caribbean sensuality, and of course the utopian beaches.
I arrived at night, to what is also known as The Flower Island, and the tiny roadways, the advertisements and even the car license plates reminded me of the little towns in Europe. Not to mention, the currency is also the Euro, and the language is French. Although, within the first few days I heard more people speaking in their local Martinique creole.
When I reached the southern part to the island to the town of Sainte-Anne, all comparisons stopped.
The tropical weather, the sea breeze, the smell of the aged rum, the fishing boats, the yachts and the sound of the live musical bands brought Martinique’s Caribbean atmosphere to life.
Martinique is a volcanic island in the Lesser Antilles. Mount Pelée is an active volcano north of the island. Hiking to the top must be included in your to-do list. But in my case, as always, the beach was calling me. So my first stop was the most famous and beautiful one of Martinique: Les Salines.
Every corner was picturesque like a post card. It’s flanked by the typical tilted palm trees, surrounded by fine white sand and a warm turquoise sea. There aren’t any hotels or resorts around. Just a few restaurants and souvenir kiosks. Les Salines has such a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
Its most touristy beach is Le Diamant, The Diamond. It’s wide and rests on a bay framed by rocky and green hills, and from the south the beach has the shape of a woman lying down. Right in front of the beach, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, there’s a giant volcanic rock that’s perfect for diving or enjoying the wildlife scenery.
Anse Dufour, Cove of Dufour, is north of Le Diamant and the most charming beach. It’s next to an inlet sheltered by some rocky mountains, and the sunsets there are the most magical and breathtaking of the island.
On the other side of the island, facing the Atlantic Ocean, the town of Le Robert offers tours to enjoy the little islets were you can wade way out into the middle of the ocean and the water level is still below your knees.
Everyday my adventure in Martinique was to discover new beaches and bask in the sun while chasing sunsets. I was looking for better places to enjoy each of these favorite moments of the day. It didn’t even matter if I had to enjoy it from an old cemetery, like I did in Sainte-Anne.
It was in this small town—with a population of no more than 4,000—where I stayed for almost a week.
Sainte-Anne like the rest of Martinique doesn’t have a massive tourism. Rarely will you meet tourists. Instead, it is a retirement destination for expats.
However, the people there are so inviting that it makes you feel like local as soon you get there. It’s in the small moments like going to the bakery for a fresh and hot baguette, or being in line to get some of the famous street food -shrimp o codfish fritters, or when you go after a party to the only food place that’s open after midnight. You will feel like a part of the community.
And it’s in this last place, Cap Crêpes, where the owner Charles gives you a the warmest welcome. While you wait for your crêpes, he lets you play your music in his speakers and offers the best kinds of rum or local beers.
Speaking about rum, this particular spirit is a big reason for many peoples journey to Martinique. Along the highways you will see all the sugar cane fields and distilleries where the tourists can stop to visit and sample the best batch of the house. At restaurants or on the beach, they offer the signature cocktail, the Ti Punch, which is rum, sugar and lime.
And for your information: zero hangover.
Martinique is one of the best kept secrets of the Caribbean and France. It’s a beautiful place for vacation with family, friends or retirement—or to just enjoy a simple, pleasant and uncomplicated way of life where the only thing you need is your bikini, tanning lotion, a camera and of course a glass of aged rum.