Along with Guadeloupe, Martinique is one of two overseas regions of France. The mix of French and Caribbean culture creates an alluring and unique vacation destination in which tourists get the best of both worlds: the warm weather, pristine beaches, and colorful attitude of the Caribbean as well as the posh and refined nature of France.
|Currency||Martinique's official currency is the Euro, the currency of the European Union. United States currency is not accepted on the island, so you will need to exchange your paper money upon arrival.|
|Electricity||The island uses the 220-volt (50 cycles) system, so North American visitors will need converters.|
|GDP Per Capita||The average per capita income is about $24,118(USD).|
|Island Size||Martinique has a total area of 425 square miles.|
|Language||Martinique's official language is French, though the local lilt makes it difficult for French speakers from France to understand.|
|Population||The population of Martinique is about 412,300.|
|Entry Requirements||Visitors from the United States, Canada, and Europe are required to present a valid passport as well as proof of citizenship in order to gain entry into Martinique. Acceptable forms of proof of citizenship include a certified copy of your birth certificate along with a photo I.D., official government document verifying citizenship, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, and a consular report of birth abroad.|
Martinique is located in the Lesser Antilles, surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The island is characterized by rugged mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and forests. Martinique has a total area of 425 square miles, and is home to the still-active volcano, Mt. Pelee.
The people of Martinique are known to have a higher standard of living than many other Caribbean nations. This is evident in the GDP per capita of $24,118; inhabitants of many other islands have annual incomes of less than $20,000, some even less than $10,000. French products are widely available for use by the populous, and it is not uncommon for students to study in Paris for a year or two. It is said that Martinique is most like France than any other island in the Caribbean, and islanders benefit for the refined way of living, but hold fast to their Creole roots.
Mild weather, steady temperatures, and cool trade winds make Martinique's weather one of the main reasons to visit the island. Average temperatures range from 75 to 85 degrees year-round, and rain showers are rare and sparse. Click here for information about monthly rainfall on Martinique.
...hike through the canyons...plunging through icy waters, slipping over large rocks, and crashing through the rain forest.
Because the weather is so mild, days spent outdoors are easily planned and executed. Eco-tourism is becoming more and more popular on Martinique thanks to its numerous outdoor attractions. Experience all of the natural beauty of Martinique on a six-hour hike from Le Prêcheur to the northernmost point, Grand-Rivière or a trip to the top of Mt. Pelee; stroll through one of the many beautiful gardens which got Martinique the name “Island of Flowers;” visit national landmarks such as the Dubuc Castle; or get in a round of golf or a game of tennis – both made more enjoyable by the picture-perfect back drop.
Canyoning is fast becoming a highly sought after activity on Martinique. Canyoning is a sport in which participants hike through the canyons of the island, plunging through icy waters, slipping over large rocks, and crashing through the rain forest. The activity is relatively new on Martinique, but adventurous vacationers won't to pass up the opportunity to pave the way for future visitors.
Then there are, of course, the beaches. The north shore is known for black sand beaches, while the powdery white sand beaches most people are accustomed to can be found on the south side. The southern shore is also where visitors will find the calmer, family-friendly beaches, while the east coast is where surfers will find rougher waters and a more rugged coastline.
...French, Creole, and African cuisine are incorporated into Martinique's food...
Just because you can spend your days outdoors, doesn't mean you have to. There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied and out of the sun. There are approximately 30 museums and historic buildings on Martinique, all small and easy to visit in a short span of time. The House of Sugar Cane, Banana Museum, and Museum of Vegetable Head Stocks are great places to learn about Martinique's agricultural background; the Paul Gauguin Museum features the works of the artist, who lived and painted on the island for several years; and a few specialty museums such as the Old-Fashioned Toys Museum make learning fun Other indoor activities include shopping and spa treatments. An interesting fact about shopping on Martinique is that visitors who use certain travelers cheques and credit cards receive a 20 percent discount on luxury items.
As dusk begins to fall, consider stopping in to a locally owned restaurant to sample some of Martinique's regional fare. Elements of French, Creole, and African cuisine are incorporated into Martinique's food, with dishes like calaloo soup, accras (fried fish and veggies), and colombo (a meat dish with curry sauce). Seafood, fresh fruits, and vegetables are mainstays in Martinique's restaurants. All the comforts of home are available on the island, with a wealth of international dining options as well. Click here to read more about the culinary styles of Martinique.
Night time brings around a whole new selection of activities to enjoy, including theater performances, dance parties, club hopping, and casino gambling. The two casinos, located at the Meridien and Batelière Plazza are especially popular with vacationers.
Some of the best health care in the Caribbean is located on the island of Martinique. The island's largest hospital is Hospital Pierre Zobda Quikman, but there are over 20 hospitals and clinics on the island, and specialists are available. There is said to be a ratio of one doctor in every 637 residents. Pharmacies can be found in Fort-de-France, and elsewhere on the island.
Though crime is not a huge problem on Martinique, petty theft does occur on occasion. You can take precautions to avoid this by locking your valuables in your hotel safe, and not flaunting large amounts of money or flashy jewelry. If crime does befall you, contact local authorities immediately.
While some Caribbean islands are more specialized and cater to a specific audience, Martinique strives to be the type of place that everyone will enjoy. Whether indoors or out, there are numerous and diverse activities for all to pursue on a daily basis.
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