Norwegian Airlines is now flying non-stop from Logan Airport in Boston to Fort De France Martinique, so we decided to check it out! Flights were very inexpensive, but you get nothing with the cheap fare, no bags, no food, not even a glass of water. We packed very light -we carried on our ebag tls Mother lode Weekender Convertable ) I can’t say enough good about this bag, but thats a story for another day!) – it’s only a 4.5 hr flight, so pack some snacks in your carry on or pay for snacks on the plane (with your credit card of course! no cash accepted)
We rented a car at the FDF Airport from Avis (see our other post about that experience here), and made the 45 minute drive from the airport to Tartane on the Caravelle Peninsula. The drive was at night and the roads are very twisty and hilly, and there are Rotary’s or traffic circles instead of traffic lights very frequently, oh and did i mention no street lights? Be patient and expect to make some wrong turns – you’ll get where you’re going! The Island isn’t very big and there is essentially 1 main road! We stayed in a junior suite at the Karibea résidence la Goélette. The room was decent – a bedroom seperated by a sliding door, 2 bathrooms and a balcony. the kitchen is outside on the balcony and the property has a pool. If you are looking for luxury, this is NOT the place for you. There is no one at the front desk after 8pm, they will clean your room one time during the week and the property is looking a little run down. If you stay here come prepared! We brought our own sponge and dish soap for the kitchen, hand soap for the bathroom, some detergent for a few sink loads of laundry, shampoo etc… they do not give you much, so be prepared.
We found Tartane to be a wonderful place to stay, there are surfing beaches and swimming beaches. There are a few restaurants within walking distance of the hotel and if you like fish, the fishermen sell their fish, lobsters and crabs fresh right on the beach! We found Chez Gato to be one of our favorite places to eat in Tartane – creole chicken with rice and lentils…so good! And she makes some of the best coffee you’ll ever drink! There was a language barrier though as we found on most of the island – you may want to brush up on some french! For breakfast hit up Pains Plaisirs et Cannelle bakery for croissants, bread, quiche lorraine. If you’re looking for surf head up the road about 5 minutes to Anse Bonneville. Itacare Surf shop is located at the top of the road to the beach, they rent surfboards and sell wax, rashguards, t-shirts etc and have a snackbar as well and usually open around 930. You may want to get to the beach early on the weekends if the surf is pumping as parking is limited.
We saw pretty much the entire island, in the north the visited St. Pierre, which sits in the shadow of Mt. Pelee – the volcano that destroyed much of the the area in 1902 and killed about 40,000 in its path. We saw the black sand beach and the ruins of the old theatre and prison, the only cell left standing in the prison housed the sole survivor of the 1902 eruption. We drove up to Mourne Rouge to see the volcano museum….save yourself the drive and skip this one, it’s a room with some pictures on the walls…not much to look at. Also in the North we went to Basse Point, the most famous surf spot on the island and home of a wsl event. If you aren’t heading there to surf or there isn’t surf don’t bother with Basse Point, there really isn’t much to see. Something to see in the north is the Rhum JM Distillery, it’s a working distillery that you actually get to walk through and see the entire process, very cool and of course there’s a proper tasting after your self guided tour! And speaking of Rum we also did the St. James Rhum Distillery in Ste Marie. This place was more of a museum and if you should happen to find yourself here, Save you money and skip the train ride….IT’S A TRAP!!!!! the ride out is nice, through the sugar cane fields, but once the train turns around to come back, be prepared to stop at every bush, tree and plant and listen to someone ramble in french…maybe if you’re fluent in french it could be interesting, but if you’re not it’s painfully boring!
We also visited the south of the island – Grande Anse des Salines in Sainte Anne – a must…probally the nicest beach we saw on the island. There is lots of parking, outdoor restaurants, paddleboard rentals, jet ski rentals, but not over the top. We also visited beaches in Les Anses-d’Arlet – Grande Anse D’Artlet, another nice beach, fun for snorkeling and swimming. There’s a pier where they run boat tours to see sea life and assorted restaurants/bars and a scuba business. Definately worth a stop. The 2nd beach we went to in Les Anses D’Artlet was Anse Dufour – a really nice beach in a small cove – this is supposedly the beach to see the sea turtles – however we did not. There is a lot of reef and sea life along the cliffs surrounding the cove – coral, fish and lots of urchins… again if you’re in this part of the island i recommend this beach. Lastly in the south we visited the memorial at Anse Cafard in Le Diamant. The statues were erected as a memorial to slaves who had died in a shipwreck right there off the coast.
Fort de France, I could have totally skipped. We live in the city and have visited Caribbean cities before. This is where the cruise ships come in, not really our cup of tea. We visited the spice market and were unimpressed, we tried to eat at a restaurant we had read about online but were too late. Fortunately for us essentially every restaurant we came across in most of the island had the same exact menu, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything.
Bottom line – We would go back in a heartbeat! It took a day or so to figure out the island, but once we did it was very easy to get around…a rental car is a must as well as knowledge to drive a standard. And I’m sure there is luxury accomodation on the island, but that isn’t how we travel and besides we came here because the price was right. If you are doing it on a budget, come prepared so you can stay in that budget. Feel free to ask us any questions about travel here at firstname.lastname@example.org
check out the quick video we shot with our kids $40 knock off gopro – ccbetter cs710 not bad for the price