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I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to study abroad on the beautiful Caribbean island of Martinique. I left with a greater grasp of the French language, a new family, and tighter fitting pants. While the Caribbean is home to a plethora of incredible islands, Martinique is definitely one that should not be missed. Here are ten reason why you should definitely make a trip to visit Martinque.
1. The beaches, duh.
You really can’t go wrong with beaches when it comes to Martinique. The white sand and crystal clear water are reason enough to spend time on the island. Blend that with the fact that they’re rarely crowded, and you’ve got yourself the perfect place to kick back and relax. Anse des Salines was one of our favorite locations, the perfect setting for a picnic and a lazy afternoon nap.
2. The food.
You always hear about how delectable French food is. You’ve got your fancy cheeses and your rich wines. Now take your foofy French food and mix that with Creole spice, and fresh sea food. BAM. You have one of the best blends possible. Don’t even get me started on the exotic fruit juices. I had fresh papaya and mango juice with breakfast almost every day. Heaven on my palate.
3. The island’s ties to Napoléon Bonaparte.
Joséphine de Beauharnais was born in the small town of Trois-Îlets, Martinique. After being widowed by her first husband, she found herself as a mistress to several leading political figures of her time, one of them being the dashing Napoléon Bonaparte himself. He even wrote her a letter that had this sexy sentence, “I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.” Bom chika bow wow.
If you take a walk through La Savane (the central park) you’ll find a beautiful statue of the temptress herself… sans head. We learned that her head had been replaced numerous times only to be chopped off again and again. The locals have the justified dislike for Joséphine as she was the one who persuaded her husband to continue slavery on the island in order to preserve her family’s plantation.
4. A volcano.
The eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902 left the nearby town of St. Pierre (population 30,000) with only two survivors. The volcano is still active today and you can spend a day hiking one of it’s numerous trails. If your worried about another eruption, you can squeeze yourself into the jail cell that protected one of the two survivors. It’s structure still remains (mostly) intact today.
Do I really need to say more? There’s rum… and lots of it.
6. The weather.
Martinique’s weather is perfect and predictable. There are no real “seasons”. Summer and fall tend to be hurricane seasons, but you can still expect it to be a sunny 70-80 degrees all year round. That’s my kind of place.
7. It’s easy to get around.
The public transportation on the island is pretty great. There are multiple buses you can ride that will take you around the entire isle. It’s also incredibly easy to catch a ferry to Les Trois-Îlets. A little piece of advice: the ferry operators will probably try to charge you (a foreigner) significantly more than the actual cost of the ride. Ask a local what you should be paying to get a feel if you’re being taken to the bank by the ferrymen or not.
8. Super Cocos.
These delectable and cool treats are in a category all their own. I cried sweet tears of joy when I had my first bite. My favorite kind come in Otter Pop form. If you enjoy coconut, ice cream, and unicorns, you will definitely love the Super Cocos. Your waistline won’t thank you, but your taste buds definitely will. Oh and hey, if you do find yourself on Martinique, pick some up for me will you?
9. You won’t run into hoards of tourists.
There are few really touristy spots on the island. If you avoid major (and expensive) hotel beaches, you’re more likely than not to have an entire beach to yourself. The biggest group of out-of-towners you’ll come across will be groups of college students studying abroad on the island. You’ll probably be feeling like a local in no time.
10. The “tour the island and eat game”.
Okay, so it’s not an “official” Martinique game, but it’s one that I learned from my host family and will definitely make a tradition of. The first thing you need to do is head to the local grocery store (ice box in tow) and pick up an assortment of delicious treats. DO NOT eat any of them yet. Buy delicious drinks, smooth ice cream (heyo super coco), and maybe some delectable cheese. After you have acquired said food, hop in a car and head in any direction, making your way around the island.
Stop at as many landmarks as possible. I’m talking about La Diamant, Mount Pelée, Les Trois-Îlets, etc. For every stop you make, take out one of your yummy treats and enjoy it at that location. Not only will you spend a day making your way around the entire island, but you’ll also be partaking in delicious food that you might not find anywhere else. It’s a two-for-one deal.
Have you ever traveled to the Caribbean? Where did you go? Would you like to visit Martinique? What’s your favorite island OR an island you’d like to visit in the future. We’re planning a trip to Costa Rica soon, on the solid advice of our good friend Meredith. We’ve started our search here: looking for vacation packages to Costa Rica, but we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Happy traveling!