My cousin and I recently found a flight deal and traveled to Martinique to celebrate my birthday. Last year we visited Barbados and hope to continue the tradition of visiting the Caribbean each year. Being a Caribbean-American, I love discovering the cultural similarities and differences between the islands. I’ve visited former Spanish, Dutch, and (of course) British territories and recently found interest in the French Caribbean.
During our trip, I received a lot of questions about visiting Martinique via Instagram so I decided to write this post and include a travel guide. If you’re planning a trip to the French Caribbean, here are some basic things to know before traveling to Martinique for first-time visitors.
Martinique is a French territory ranked among the most enchanting destinations in the world. It is a small island rich in history located between the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia. Martinique offers a little bit of everything for groups, families, adventure seekers, lovers, and solo travelers. Here are a few fun facts about the island:
- 2/3 of the island is protected parkland
- Temperatures average at about 79 F
- Napoleon’s wife Joséphine was born in Les Trois-Ilets
- There are over 6000+ accommodation options for budget, moderate or luxury travelers
- You can visit via plane, cruise ship or ferry from neighboring islands Guadeloupe, Dominica and St. Lucia
Is Martinique Safe?
Martinique is one of the safety islands to visit in the Caribbean and meets European security standards. If you’re a solo traveler, always take necessary safety precautions traveling to Martinique as you would anywhere.
Traveling to Martinique: Visa Requirements & Currency
Before traveling to Martinique it is good to know there is no visa requirement for U.S. Citizens. You just need six months validity on your passport and at least one blank page. For EU residents visiting Martinique, a current valid passport or ID card is required.
Since Martinique is part of the French Caribbean as an overseas territory, be ready to exchange your dollars for Euros. Most of the locations we went to accepted credit cards, but there’s nothing wrong with having cash on hand.
Below are the current exchange rates at the time of posting:
$1 USD = 0.88 Euro
£1 GBP = 0.79 Euro
Martinique Language & Basic French Phrases
The official language of Martinique is French, but Creole is spoken everywhere. English is spoken in most resorts and locations that cater to tourists.
If you’re traveling to Martinique and don’t speak French, download the Google translate app or bring a translator book with you. You can also learn basic French phrases by using a free app called Duolingo. Below is a list of basic French phrases:
- Bonjour – Hello / Good day / Good morning
- S’il vousplaît – Please
- De rien – You’re welcome
- Au revoir – Goodbye
- Merci (beaucoup) – Thank you (very much)
- Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?
- excusez-moi – Excuse Me / Sorry
- Je ne parle pas très bien français – I don’t speak French very well
- Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand
- Où se trouvent les toilettes – Where is the bathroom?
- Pouvez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît? – Can you help me, please?
- Pourriez-vous répéter, s’il vous plaît? – Could you repeat (that), please?
- Comment vous appelez-vous? – What’s your name?
- Comment Allez-vous? – How are you?
- Puis-je me connecter à l’Internet? – Can I get on the internet?
- Combien ça coûte? – How much does that cost?
- Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plaît? – Could you speak more slowly, please?
Traveling to Martinique via Air or Sea
So how do you get to Martinique from the US? Like most Caribbean islands, the most common methods of traveling to Martinique is via air or cruise ship. We traveled directly to Martinique from JFK to via Norwegian Air and it was a convenient and affordable option for a quick getaway. Services via Norwegian Air has since suspended, but flights to Martinique can be purchased through American Airlines & Air France. There is also island ferry service to Fort de France via L’Express des Iles from St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, and Dominica.
Getting Around Martinique: Should You Rent a Car?
Outside of finding a place to stay, it is important to figure out your transportation options will be when visiting Martinique. Common methods of getting around Martinique include:
- Driving – You can rent a car, but there are limited automatic cars available. If you know how to drive a manual car, you’re in luck.
- Taxi – There is no Uber in Martinique, no flat rate to destinations and taxis are ridiculously expensive. My cousin and I pretty much spent 90-100 Euros on airport service to and from our hotel in Schœlcher. Taking a taxi should seriously be your last resort.
- Hiring a Driver – If you rent from Airbnb, hiring a driver may be your best bet. Just contact your host to see if they offer this as an additional service.
- Public Transportation – There is NO public transportation available from the airport and the majority of the bus service is in Fort de France and Schœlcher. Keep in mind that there is less transportation on weekends and service ends around 6 PM daily.
- Ferry – Ferries run in different parts of the island for around 6 Euros. Just make sure to get a round-trip ticket or say aller-retour. On our last day, we took a Ferry to Pointe du Bout and walked to Anse Mitan before heading back to Fort de France.
Where to Stay in Martinique
Martinique offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from two to five-star hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, vacation houses, and more. The hotel where we stayed in Martinique was Hôtel La Batelière in Schoelcher. It is about a 15 min drive from the airport and close to the beach, restaurants, public transportation, and has a grocery store across the highway. All rooms in Hôtel La Batelière have a sea view so no one misses out on beautiful sunrises or sunsets.
Top things to do in Martinique
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting for a beach, adventure or cultural experience. Martinique has something for everyone. Below are some of the top things to do in Martinique.
- Visit Historic Sites and Museums
- Le Memorial de L’Anse Cafard – A slave memorial facing Diamond Beach and the Caribbean Sea. This site commemorates an event in 1830 when a slave ship careened into Martinique’s Diamond Rock Mountain, killing many of the passengers.
- La Savane des Esclaves – Located in Trois-Ilets, La Savane des Esclaves or (Slave Savannah) is a renovated village sharing the history and traditions of Martinique.
- Habitation Clement – A historical landmark and one of the oldest plantations in the Caribbean. This site includes a house, gardens, and distillery.
- Explore Jardin de Balata – Designed by Jean-Philippe Thoze, Jardin de Balata is located about 6 miles from the capital Fort de France. A visit to Jardin de Balata is one of the #1 things to do in Martinique and contains more than 3000 variations of plants from around the world.
- Relax at the Beach – A visit to a Caribbean island wouldn’t be complete without a beach day. Les Salines Beach is most famous for its white sand and calm waters.
- Hike up Mount Pelée – The highest point of the island, Mount Pelée is an active volcano. The hike is said to be the best if you start early.
- Scuba Diving and Snorkeling -Martinique has some of the best diving spots in the Caribbean. Renowned sites for scuba diving are Diamond Rock and Anse Dufour
Check out my video showing highlights from my Birthday trip to Martinique
Additional Resource for Visiting Martinique
Outside of going on the official website, and getting information from travel groups, before traveling to Martinique, I purchased Your Ultimate Guide to Martinique. This travel guide contains loads of travel tips including popular attractions of where to go in Martinique, where to eat, accommodation suggestions, beautiful beaches, popular diving sites, and more things to do in Martinique for solo and group travelers.
Any interest in visiting Martinique?