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Martinique is an island and overseas department of France in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is part of the Lesser Antilles and is situated directly north of Saint Lucia, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica. Martinique has a total area of 1,128 km2. Its capital is Fort-de-France.

What to see & do

Diamond Beach - On the southern edge of Martinique is the island's longest beach, Diamond Beach. At over six miles long, it is rarely crowded. Despite being rather underdeveloped compared to the more touristy areas of Martinique, Diamond Beach is beautiful, unspoiled, and well worth the trip even for those not staying in or near the town of Le Diamant. About 3km off the coast of the beach is the uninhabited island of Diamond Rock, one of the best dive sites in Martinique.

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial - Situated on a hill in southwest Martinique, facing Diamond Beach and the sea, are 20 white stone effigies commemorating a catastrophe in the history of Martinique. In 1830, a slave ship failed to properly anchor in Anse Cafard and lurched into the Diamond Rock Mountain. Many of the sailors, passengers, and slaves were killed in the process. The memorial is simple, but is very important to the locals and very popular among tourists.

Jardin de Balata - Jardin de Balata, or Balata Botanical Gardens, is a 3-hectare private botanical garden on Route de Balata, approximately 10km from Fort-de-France. The gardens are open to the public daily with an admission fee. The gardens were created in 1982 by horticulturist Jean-Philippe Thoze, set on former farmland that has stunning views of the Pitons du Carbet. It was opened to the public in 1986, and today contains approximately 3,000 varieties of tropical plants and flowers from around the world. Adding to the ambiance and beauty of the garden, there are nice ponds with water lilies and lotus blossoms, as well as raised wooden rope bridges suspended on the treetops to provide an aerial view of the gardens.

How to get around within Martinique

Martinique has limited public transport. As a result (or perhaps the cause), there are more cars registered per person in Martinique than anywhere else in France. In fact, there is no public transport from the airport due to Taxi Union demands, meaning the only options upon arrival are taxi service or car hire. As such, it is recommended to rent a car despite the traffic. Having a rental car at your disposal will allow any traveller to have more freedom to choose the destination and schedule preferred. Those who cannot or do not want to drive can still get around by cab, but the rates in Martinique are not cheap. Bus service is also available, and runs frequently between Fort-de-France and St. Pierre.

How to get there

The primary international airport serving Martinique is Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, located in the suburb of La Lamentin in Fort-de-France. There are flights to Martinique from the following locations: from Paris, offered by Air Caraïbes, Air France, and Corsair Fly; from Germany, through Air France, from the United States of America, offered by American Airlines, from Canada, by Air Canada, and from other islands in the Caribbean, courtesy of Air Caraïbes, Air Antilles Express and LIAT. If coming from the surrounding islands, it is possible to catch a ferry operated by the ferry companies Express des Iles or Brudey Frères.

Images by Flickr\martinvarsavsky

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