What to Do in Martinique on a Cruise Stop
Martinique, a picturesque Caribbean island known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant history, is a popular stop for cruise ships. With its blend of French and West Indian influences, this island offers a unique experience for visitors. If you find yourself on a cruise stop in Martinique, here are some activities and attractions to make the most of your time on the island.
1. Explore Fort-de-France: Start your journey in the capital city of Martinique, Fort-de-France. Take a stroll along La Savane, a beautiful park in the heart of the city, and admire the iconic Schoelcher Library. Visit the colorful spice market, where you can find local spices, fruits, and crafts.
2. Discover the Diamond Rock: Embark on a boat tour to the Diamond Rock, a volcanic island located just off the coast of Martinique. This unique rock formation is a haven for marine life, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.
3. Visit the Balata Botanical Garden: Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to the Balata Botanical Garden, located in the hills above Fort-de-France. Wander through lush gardens filled with exotic plants, flowers, and trees, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
4. Explore Les Anses d’Arlet: Head to the charming fishing village of Les Anses d’Arlet, known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. Relax on the beach, go snorkeling to discover colorful coral reefs, or enjoy a delicious seafood meal at one of the local restaurants.
5. Hike Mount Pelée: If you’re up for an adventure, hike to the summit of Mount Pelée, an active volcano located in the northern part of the island. While the climb is challenging, the panoramic views from the top are truly worth it.
6. Indulge in Creole Cuisine: Martinique is famous for its delicious Creole cuisine, which blends French, African, and Caribbean flavors. Try local specialties such as accras (deep-fried codfish fritters), colombo (a spiced meat or fish stew), and the famous rum-based cocktail, Ti’ Punch.
7. Visit the Rum Distilleries: Martinique is renowned for its rum production, and a visit to one of the island’s distilleries is a must. Learn about the rum-making process, sample different varieties, and even bring back a bottle as a souvenir.
8. Relax on Anse Mitan Beach: Known for its calm waters and palm-lined shores, Anse Mitan Beach is a great place to unwind and soak up the sun. Rent a lounge chair, go for a swim, or try your hand at various water sports activities.
9. Explore the Trois-Îlets Village: Take a short ferry ride from Fort-de-France to the charming village of Trois-Îlets. Visit the Pagerie Museum, the birthplace of Empress Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, and learn about her fascinating life.
10. Dive in the Coral Gardens: Martinique is home to stunning coral reefs teeming with marine life. Go diving or snorkeling in the Coral Gardens, located just south of Sainte-Anne, and discover the beauty of the underwater world.
11. Discover the Jardin de l’Anse Latouche: Located near Saint-Pierre, the Jardin de l’Anse Latouche is a hidden gem. This botanical garden showcases a wide variety of tropical plants and offers a peaceful escape from the bustling tourist areas.
12. Shop for Local Crafts: Martinique is known for its arts and crafts, including pottery, woodcarvings, and woven baskets. Visit the local markets or boutiques to find unique souvenirs to bring back home.
13. Take a Catamaran Cruise: End your visit to Martinique with a catamaran cruise around the island. Sail along the coastline, swim in secluded bays, and enjoy a delicious lunch on board while taking in the breathtaking views.
Common Questions and Answers:
1. Do I need a visa to visit Martinique?
No, if you hold a valid passport from a Schengen country, the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, you can enter Martinique without a visa for up to 90 days.
2. Is English spoken in Martinique?
While French is the official language, many people in the tourism industry speak English, especially in popular tourist areas.
3. What currency is used in Martinique?
The official currency is the Euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments.
4. How can I get around the island?
Taxis and rental cars are readily available, but be aware that driving is on the right side of the road. Public transportation, such as buses, can also be used to get around.
5. Is it safe to drink tap water in Martinique?
Yes, the tap water in Martinique is safe to drink. However, if you prefer, bottled water is widely available.
6. What is the best time to visit Martinique?
The best time to visit Martinique is during the dry season, which runs from December to May. The weather is pleasant, and there are fewer chances of rain.
7. Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of?
Martinique has a mix of French and West Indian cultures. It is polite to greet locals with a “Bonjour” (hello) and “Merci” (thank you). Dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
8. Can I use my cell phone in Martinique?
Most international cell phone carriers operate in Martinique. However, roaming charges may apply, so it’s best to check with your provider before you travel.
9. Is it necessary to tip in Martinique?
Tipping is not mandatory, but it is appreciated. A 10% service charge is usually included in restaurant bills, but an additional tip is welcomed for exceptional service.
10. Are there any beaches suitable for families with children?
Yes, there are several family-friendly beaches in Martinique, such as Anse Mitan, Les Salines, and Anse Dufour. These beaches offer calm waters and are great for swimming and building sandcastles.
11. Can I use US dollars in Martinique?
While some establishments may accept US dollars, it is advisable to have local currency, euros, for most transactions.
12. Are there any restrictions on bringing back rum as a souvenir?
There are no restrictions on bringing back rum as a souvenir for personal use. However, if you plan to bring back a large quantity, it’s best to check customs regulations.
13. What should I wear when visiting Martinique?
Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended due to the tropical climate. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes for exploring.
In conclusion, a cruise stop in Martinique offers a plethora of activities and attractions to explore. From beautiful beaches and lush gardens to historical sites and delicious cuisine, this Caribbean gem has something for everyone. So, make the most of your time on the island and create unforgettable memories in Martinique.