A Weekend in Martinique

Last summer, I came across a great deal for Martinique on Norwegian. Norwegian launched nonstop flights starting at about $150 roundtrip from BWI, JFmartiniquebeachK, and BOS to Fort de France, Martinique beginning in December.

While most people were like where’s Martinique, I’d been familiar with the small island since I was in middle school when I had a penpal (geez, that makes me sound old) who was from the small island, so it had always been on my radar.

Leading up to the trip, I’d read various blogs and articles about Martinique with mixed reviews. Some people loved their experience,  while others weren’t too fond. As someone who enjoys new and different experiences, I didn’t set any high expectations.

Since we were just there for the MLK holiday weekend, I knew I wanted to get as much out of our trip as possible. If you only have a few days, here are my recommendations.

Rent a car. Book early if you want/need an automatic because they are extremely limited. While Martinique has buses, they are not what we’re used to in the States. Download the MAPS.ME app if you’re not using data. Provides great offline directions.

Avoid taxis. If you must, keep in mind they charge a 40% surcharge from 8pm-6am.

Stay in Trois Ilet. If you don’t rent a car, stay here it’s extremely walkable. Eat, drink, and hang out in Creole Village. There’s a ferry stop that will take you to Fort de France and many of the other parts of the island. We stayed at Hotel La Pagerie – nice accommodations, clean room, strong AC, well-insulated, didn’t see one bug, and couldn’t hear our neighbors or noise from the street. (If you stay in Fort de France, be warned I’ve heard horror stories about Hotel La Bateliere.)

If you don’t speak French. Download the Google Translate app and save a few common greetings in the event you don’t have data. Purchase a English-French dictionary like this one. If you have time, use Duolingo to learn a little French a few weeks before your trip. In Martinique, very few people speak English. The people we encountered were friendly despite the language barrier and did their best to communicate.

Try the Ti Punch. The name is somewhat of a misnomer. At first it tastes like fire, but by the third sip you’ll be a fan, maybe.

Bring snacks. Most restaurants don’t serve food between lunch and dinner, so if you tend to get hungry between say 1pm and 7pm, you might want to pack some snacks. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Where we went…

Jardin de Balata
Breathtaking tropical garden located about 30 minutes outside of Fort de France. It’s 13 Euro per person and I’d recommend you spend 1.5-2 two hours to explore it all. If you’re not afraid of height, walk across the treetop walkway. Makes for great photo opps. (Note: The website is in French so use Google Chrome to translate)

Distillerie Depaz
Martinique is known for their rhum, so you have to visit of of their many distilleries to see how it’s made. This distillery only offers tours in English M-F but you can always walk around on your own then go into the shop for tastings. We tasted everything and brought back a few bottles, most bottle cost between 7-10 euros.

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial
This memorial was built in memory of the slaves who died off of the coast of Martinique in 1830. It was definitely a somber experience but a worthwhile visit.

Catamaran Tour
We booked Le Creole Cata (Email Johan at la-creole-cata@orange.fr and tell him RaShonda sent you, I coordinated a tour with 29 people). They offer an eight hour excursion with lunch and unlimited cocktails for 80 euro/pp (discount for more than 10 ppl). There were 3 stops where you could swim to the shore, hang out on the boat, or snorkel (the equipment is provided).

Beach
Located to the west of Trois Ilets, Les Anses-d’Arlet, is a beautiful and scenic beach town. The water is crystal clear and the shore is clean. Steer clear of the public bathroom, there’s a fee and it’s sketchy.

Eating & Drinking
Le Petitbonum
This place had mixed reviews and now I see why. We got there around 4pm and rented a beach chair next to the restaurant to enjoy the sunset. It’s 10 euro and includes a drink. The beach itself was extremely rocky so we didn’t spend much time in the water.

We lounged on the beach until the restaurant opened up for dinner at 7pm. The menu had about 9-10 entrees but most of the options were crossed out. Neither of us were impressed with our appetizer (fried camembert) or entrees (marlin and crayfish & scallops). Apparently, they are used to negative reviews because they sell a t-shirt that says “Talk to us, not TripAdvsior.” Nice view but the food wasn’t impressive.

Le Pause
Cute outdoor restaurant in Creole Village in Trois Ilet. Ordered the whole fish with creole sauce. Reasonable prices.

Le Kano
Definitely the best meal we had in Martinique. Highly recommend the shrimp fritters, pork ragout, and the grilled chicken dish. They also also have a DJ on the weekends.

Check out some of my photos on Tumblr.

Any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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