MARTINIQUE: In Search of Greener Paths...The Caribbean is Just as Green as it is Blue!

January 23, 2015  •  6 Comments

Written By JÉRÉMIE GABOURG  |  This post was read 1018 times

In Search of Greener Paths in MartiniqueIn Search of Greener Paths in Martinique

 

MARTINIQUE 

Travel keeps me sane too! When fellow friend and explorer Jenn invited me to contribute to this blog it was obvious my first post would be about my last trip to Martinique, where l returned with my friend Nadia last December. I am originally from Martinique, but call Montréal home now. So this post really is special for me as I am sharing how I reconnected with my country; and it’s easy for me to write this and for you to trust me.

On an island blessed with year-round summer and just enough rain to remain green, you quickly realize green is a colour we should celebrate more often when travelling. So enough with the blue, blue seas, deep blue oceans, and forget all the water you’re surrounded by for change. Lets go green on your next trip to the Caribbean - and put on some neon green shoes! Be bold in your quest for a ‘greener’ path and what better way than hiking to connect with the green side of any place?

Before I go on, don’t miss out on my additional suggestions after the photos!

 


THE HIKES WE DID......


MORNE LARCHER (Larcher Hill) 
This hill’s shape reminds of the profile of a lady lying in the water. That’s why locals call it La Dame Couchée (The Laying Lady). But don’t let this seemingly demure lady fool you: the trail up the summit rises sharply and can take up to an hour and a half to complete. We parked in Anse Cafard, 10 min away from a town called Le Diamant, then we climbed our way up. Going down on the other side of the hill, we ended up in the town of Anses D’Arlet, from where we walked back to Le Diamant along the road. You can choose to go back to the starting point using the same trail, but be aware the other slope of the hill is as steep on this side as it is from the Anse Cafard side. Total time to complete the loop: three to four hours depending on your tolerance to hills.

Walking down the other side of the hill to Anses D'Arlet

Walking down the other side of the hill to Anses D'ArletWalking down the other side of the hill to Anses D'Arlet

Walking down the other side of the hill to Anses D'ArletWalking down the other side of the hill to Anses D'Arlet

He wasn't quite sure what to do, neither were we!

He wasn't quite sure what to do, neither were we!He wasn't quite sure what to do, neither were we!

 

PRESQU'ÎLE DE LA CARAVELLE (Caravelle Peninsula) 
This easy, three-hour trek (or two, if you take the short trail) is my favourite. You will encounter somewhat harder sections, but they never take longer than 10 minutes to conquer. What I love about this location is the constant wind and the diversity of landscapes: forest, rocky beaches, hills, cliffs and a mangrove. The dramatic panoramas are spectacular and unique to this part of Martinique.

 

Caravelle PeninsulaCaravelle Peninsula

Heading to the Caravelle Peninsula trail head, located near the town of Tartane

Heading to the Caravelle Peninsula trail head, located near the town of TartaneHeading to the Caravelle Peninsula trail head, located near the town of Tartane Caravelle Lighthouse - was erected in 1862, and offers the most incredible panoramic view of the peninsula

Caravelle Lighthouse - was erected in 1862, and offers the most incredible panoramic view of the peninsulaCaravelle Lighthouse - was erected in 1862, and offers the most incredible panoramic view of the peninsula View from the Caravelle Lighthouse lookout View from the Caravelle Lighthouse lookoutView from the Caravelle Lighthouse lookout

View from the Caravelle Lighthouse lookoutView from the Caravelle Lighthouse lookout Martinique's Easternmost location, this section of the peninsula is very windy. A light straw hat wasn't the best idea. Martinique's Easternmost location, this section of the peninsula is very windy. A light straw hat wasn't the best idea.Martinique's Easternmost location, this section of the peninsula is very windy. A light straw hat wasn't the best idea. Caravelle Peninsula Caravelle PeninsulaCaravelle Peninsula

Off we go. But first......

Off we go. But first......Off we go. But first......

Caravelle Peninsula

Caravelle PeninsulaCaravelle Peninsula

 


ADDITIONAL HIKE SUGGESTIONS......


There is a myriad of trails available, and it’s tricky to pick just 4. So I chose the experiences that are the most specific to Martinique and my search for ‘greener paths’.

MOUNT PELÉE 
That’s a hard one, but worth the pain. However, if you have no experience whatsoever with hiking, health impediments, or a hard time with steep hills, then I’d recommend against it. There are several trails, and ways to hike the Pelée. The most common is to leave from the Aileron parking space (two hours total), nearby Morne Rouge. You can also climb from the town of Grand-Rivière (harder), or mix and match some of the trail options. I’ll let you Google your way through them. The summit is over 1395 metres high (4580 feet), so clouds get stuck atop the mountain quite often. This makes for unpredictable, humid weather. I recommend bringing a windbreaker. If you catch the Pelée on a cloudless day, you will enjoy the Holy Grail of views of the island.

TRACE DES JÉSUITES
This path is the easy breezy way to qualify for the “I’ve-done-Martinique’s-Rainforest” club! It starts at the town of Morne Rouge, and crosses a beautiful stretch of the rain forest. You will have to cross a river at some point, which turns out to be a great spot to picnic. Insider’s tip: when at the river, simply go down the stream for about 20 metres for the cutest spot! Important: like any rainforest trail, avoid this hike after a rainy day, it quickly becomes muddy and unpleasant.

GRAND RIVIÈRE TO ANSE-COULEUVRE 
This is a harder one due to its average length of six hours. However, the views are spectacular. You will walk by the centennial trees and banana plantations that pave the way, as well as fauna that is indigenous to the island. You can contact the Grand Rivière Tourist Office to arrange for someone to take you back by boat to Grand Rivière after your hike (This won’t spoil your soul searching or quest for ‘greener’ things, but it’ll cut down on your travel back).

SAVANE DES PÉTRIFICATIONS 
This four-kilometre hike can be completed in less than two hours and conveniently starts nearby Salines beach. The trail’s highlight is the Savane des pétrifications, an almost moon-like desert area that’s a sharp contrast with the other, lush parts of the island. The trail ends at a cliff where the panorama is exquisite, and the powerful waves clapping against it are yet another contrast with the usually peaceful beaches of the Caribbean coast.

Moments like this call for one of three things: a smart phone for pictures, a lightweight camera, or complete solitude and so you might leave your man made devices behind (but let someone know you’ll be soul searching to be safe).
 

 

MARTINIQUE IN A NUTSHELL
Martinique, along with Guadeloupe, half of Saint-Martin, Saint-Bath and French Guiana, to name only the ones located in this region, make for the French Oversea Departments (a Department is close to what Canadians call a Province or Americans, a State). That means that the residents are French citizens and that, upon arriving, you will be greeted by French customs, and will use Euros to buy your first snack. The infrastructures, laws, safety levels and living standards are comparable to that of France. That’s why some refer to Martinique as a little bit or France in the Caribbean, but the birthplace of poet and leader Aimée Césaire. Martinicans are a friendly bunch, they tend to be well travelled and open minded about a lot of stuff. The living standards and wages being what they are, you won’t get harassed by folks trying to sell you something when going to touristy areas. No such thing as a tourist trap in Martinique.

 

 

ATTRACTIONS & LANDMARKS
This is the hardest part to write about, because there are so many! But here are a few, along with reasons you should check them out.

Martinique's Northern half, the Caribbean side

Martinique's Northern half, the Caribbean sideMartinique's Northern half, the Caribbean side

 

MONTAGNE PELÉE, THE SLEEPING BEAST BEAUTY 
La Pelée (the Bald Mountain) stands at 1394 metres (4583 feet) above the town of Saint-Pierre in the North of the island. It’s an active volcano that has been under continuous watch after a series of devastating eruptions. Pyroclastic surges completely burnt down several villages as well as the town of Saint-Pierre, at that time it was Martinique’s most important city, killing 30,000. The very photogenic mountain is now a safe playground for hikers and visitors. Many of the most charming towns and villages are located on the Pelée’s slopes, making for a great drive through Martinique’s North. 

OTHER NORTHERN GEMS

  • Habitation Céron and nearby Anse Céron beach.

  • Town of Grand Rivière

  • Town of Le Carbet

  • Route de la trace: a road heading north from Fort-de-France through the rainforest. It twists and turns along the Balata Botanical Gardens, the Pitons du Carbet, several trail heads, and ends in the town of Morne Rouge, the highest town in Martinique

Montagne Pelée

Montagne PeléeMontagne Pelée Anse Turin is the town of Carbet's most popular beach. Stop at La Cabane du Pêcheur restaurant for an authentic meal for lunch or dinner, while your feet sift through the sand.

Anse Turin is the town of Carbet's most popular beach. Stop at La Cabane du Pêcheur restaurant for an authentic meal for lunch or dinner, while your feet sift through the sand.Anse Turin is the town of Carbet's most popular beach. Stop at La Cabane du Pêcheur restaurant for an authentic meal for lunch or dinner, while your feet sift through the sand.

The further north you go, the darker the volcanic sand gets.

The further north you go, the darker the volcanic sand gets.The further north you go, the darker the volcanic sand gets. Anse Céron Anse CéronAnse Céron Sunset and a little princess! Sunset and a little princess!MartiniqueSunset and a little princess!

 

"LE SUD" 
The southern part of the island is renowned for its white sand beaches. If on a Sunday someone tells you they’re driving to the South (Le Sud), it’s very likely they’re going to a beach. Though Pointe-Marin and Les Salines are the most popular beaches, many others are equally charming with the perk of being less crowded. To name a few: Anse Meunier, Anse Moustique (clothing optional, don’t ask how I found out!), Anse Caritan, Baie des Anglais and Cap Chevalier. This is the part of the island where most visitors stay, due to its proximity to the beaches. But you are a green soldier, so when booking your accommodation, you will look for towns located north of the Island for greener, fresher and quieter sceneries. 

One of the three beaches of the town of Anses D'Arlet

One of the three beaches of the town of Anses D'ArletOne of the three beaches of the town of Anses D'Arlet

 

THE DIAMOND ROCK 
It’s a 175 metres (580 feet) high volcanic island located 3 kilometres from the town of Diamant. The stories behind its name are conflicting: some say it’s named after the town it faces, others say the town it faces is named after it, or that the name is due to its shape. The verified fact is that the British registered the Rock as Her Majesty’s Ship Diamond Rock in 1804.

For an Instagram hit, hike up Morne Larcher as mentioned above, or make a stop at the lookout built along the road that connects Le Diamant and Anses D’Arlet towns. The Rock is also a popular spot for divers, and many excursion companies offer boat tours that take you as close as possible to the Rock.

Diamond Rock

Diamond RockDiamond Rock Diamond RockDiamond Rock The Cap 110 memorial is built on the slopes of Anse Cafard, the location of a shipwreck that happened in 1830. The 15 statues facing Guinea, where the slaver was probably from, are a tribute to the 86 survivors, all slaves, and the 46 dead. To this day, the name and owner of the ship are unknown. The Cap 110 memorial is built on the slopes of Anse Cafard, the location of a shipwreck that happened in 1830. The 15 statues facing Guinea, where the slaver was probably from, are a tribute to the 86 survivors, all slaves, and the 46 dead. To this day, the name and owner of the ship are unknown.The Cap 110 memorial is built on the slopes of Anse Cafard, the location of a shipwreck that happened in 1830. The 15 statues facing Guinea, where the slaver was probably from, are a tribute to the 86 survivors, all slaves, and the 46 dead. To this day, the name and owner of the ship are unknown.

 

MORE SUGGESTIONS: 

  • Balata Botanical Garden: 3,000 species, rope bridges, the cutest ponds

  • Fort-de-France: Martinique’s main city. Check out the Fort Saint-Louis, the Place de la Savane Park, the Bibliothèque Schoelcher (library), the Archeology Museum and the Ethnography Museum.

  • Trois-Îlets: one of Martinique’s tourist hotspots with restaurants, waterfront resorts, a wide range restaurants, white sand beaches and a ferry service to Fort-de-France.

  • Rum distilleries: about 8 to choose from spread across the island.

Stay tuned for my next post and check out my website

A pli ta (Créole for “see you later”)!

 

Trois-Ilets

Trois-IletsTrois-Ilets

 

Photos taken by NADIA GILLESJÉRÉMIE GABOURG  | Edited by JENNIFER MAHON

 


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Comments

TRAVEL KEEPS ME SANE
Hi Sam!

Anse Moustique (Mosquito Bay), adjacent to Anse Meunier, is located in the south of Martinique and not far from the famed Salines Beach. Mosquito Bay is nearby, as well as an old salt marsh and mangrove, making it a friendly habitat for mosquitos, hence the name!

However, of the many times, l've been to this beach, mosquitos were never an issue (at least not more that anywhere else on the island!). There may be periods when they're more present, but so far they haven't been enough a nuisance to deter me from going.

What you should be wary of, however, are the "mancelliniers" trees. Their sap, leaves and fruits are extremely toxic and can cause severe burns, even if (especially if) one uses them as shelter on a rainy day. Fortunately, they are clearly marked with a red and white circle on their trunks. It's a fantastic white sand beach with tranquil waters, underrated because not as easily accessible as other popular beaches.

It's tranquility may explain why a discreet section of the beach is a nudist hang out!

Jérémie
sam corbett(non-registered)
please tell me more about anse moustique!!!!!
Mike(non-registered)
A different take on just the beach vacation part of Martinique, i love it
E-Xavier de Mada via Facebook(non-registered)
Having seen all the article, I am obliged to modify the comment because it is my cousin who is the author !!!! Big up !!! ‪#‎BecauseMySkyisMyLimit‬
Nadia Gilles via Facebook(non-registered)
That sums up my last trip to Martinique! Good times!
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