What can we say? The rise of summer is making us think about travel, and when it comes to travel, we can’t help but think about the Caribbean. If you think of the European nations when it comes to winter wonderlands, then you have to think about the Caribbean when it comes to summer fun. Even though there are times during the year where rain and even hurricanes can reign supreme, the temperature is usually just too nice to get bummed out for long.
So what’s next on our Caribbean roundabout? Martinique, of course! Martinique is located in the Caribbean northwest of Barbados and north of St. Lucia where you will find many couples resorts. It is owned by France as an overseas region. It is actually part of the European Union, and the Euro is used in Martinique heavily. The official language is indeed French, but Antillean Creole also rules the day, especially among the local population.
The geography of Martinique is stunning. The island has a volcano on it — Mount Pelee, which erupted back in 1902. The volcano is dormant now and it is a very popular tourist destination. The northern part of the island has plenty of rain forest as well as black sand beaches. If you’ve never been to a black sand beach, you really need to go. The sand’s amazing color has to be seen in order to be believed!
The southern part of the island features more gorgeous beaches along with a lot of tourists — as you might imagine, tourism rules the southern side, while a lot of the northern part is left bare part of the year. If you’re feeling adventurous you can still tour the northern side.
The capital is Fort-de-France, but a lot of the stuff you most likely want to do will be in Sainte-Anne. There is also Trois-llets, which is also a big town for tourism. This is also where you’ll find some casino action if you’re a gambler, along with plenty of restaurants to feed your appetite after you’ve gambled all day.
As far as the culture goes, you will be understood even as an English speaker — though French can get you farther in some ways than English. The time that you really want to avoid is through December to April — that’s the highest season of the island. Tourist destinations raise their prices considerably, making it hard to stay under budget. If you really want to beat the crowds, you want to hit the island in May and June. Cruises tend to avoid September as it’s hurricane season — too much risk there. If you do decide to head to Martinique in the hurricane season months, you will need to make sure that you actually get travel insurance. It can save you the hassle of trying to find the money to get back home safely or other situations where your trip is ruined.
Speaking of culture, one thing that you definitely don’t want to do is try to talk down to anyone living in Martinique. Being a French possession, the people of Martinique are extremely proud and very intolerant of people with bad manners. Don’t believe that just because you’re bringing money in the island that you’re entitled to be treated better than anyone else. While the island loves tourists, they will definitely be a lot different with someone that comes off as being arrogant and impatient. Things move a lot slower in the Caribbean as a whole, so if you’re used to getting everything done quickly, you’re going to be in for a shock. This is why we recommend that if you really want to experience a nice meal, you should go before you’re super hungry. That way you’re not irritable when it takes longer for your food.
Like many other French possessions, the restaurants in Martinique do already include a tip, so leaving another one is normally not necessary. The price of the food also reflects the salary for the staff in many cases, so gratuity is not the same way it is in the United States.
If you really want to travel in style, you should check out the many gites that line the island — these are bed and breakfasts that give you a more private way to experience the island. If you really want to go into a full villa, you can. Just check the online listings for owner-offered villas and you’re bound to find some good deals. Looking for villas in the off season when most tourists are off viewing other countries than Martinique is a smart idea.
Is this an island for families? Sure it is — it’s not something that is closed off to families at all. There’s truly something for everyone in Martinique, but you’ll need to start planning your trip today!