Martinique may be more than a tropical paradise, but it is very much a sunshine-seeking ocean-lover's dream. In fact, there are so many noteworthy beaches on this relatively small island, it's impossible to discover or even write about all of them. So, I'm focusing this post on a few of my favorite beaches. They are vastly different--from white sand beaches in protected coves, to deserted and rocky black sand beaches near the volcano Mt. Pelee.
Adventure and Isolation
The most isolated beach we went to, Anse de la Couleuvre, was so far off-the-path that we had to hike and even tiptoe on rocks to cross a stream to get to it. This lovely cove was all the way north in the Le Precheur area. We didn't have a map and lost phone service completely, so we were just wandering through the woods at one point, trying to let the sound of the waves guide us. With no luck, we turned around and walked back. Fortunately, near the parking lot, we spotted a French couple headed that way so we tailed them through the woods, across the stream, past some ruins of a plantation, and finally, to the black sand, rocky beach.
The shoreline was deceptively short, so I put my belongings in a tree to ensure that they didn't wash away. I then spotted the couple don some snorkeling gear and disappear for the next 40 minutes. The waves were a little too fierce for me. I didn't feel comfortable getting in the water, but I had plenty of fun playing near the water and on the rocks of the beach. If you're a confident swimmer, there are a ton of nearby coves and nooks and crannies that you can swim out to and explore.
White Sand and a Little Action
If you are looking for a beautiful, tree-lined beach with a little more action, Les Salines on the southern part of the island is ideal. You won't need an umbrella if you pick a shady spot under a palm tree, and women selling homemade sorbet made from the island's most popular fruits (mango, passion fruit, guava, coconut, peanut, melon...) roam the beach. The water is calm, but not too calm if you like to bob up and down with gentle waves. I spent most of my time at this beach actually in the water; although, I did find some time to take a nap before enjoying a beachside lunch of grilled lobster with creole sauce and Carib beer. This restaurant was so casual that the grill was actually outside of the open-air seating establishment, which is actually typical of most beach-side eateries. So of course I chatted with the chef before ordering. I also had sorbet with four different flavors for dessert from a lovely woman with a sorbet stand.
My favorite beach had the calmest waters, Grand Anse d'Arlet. This is the type of beach where you can float on your back, gaze up at the sky, and have one of those surreal moments where you have no choice but to be grateful for the miracle of life and admire the natural beauty of your surroundings. There are also fun rocks to play around on. The beach is extremely large with relatively few visitors. One side of the pier is much more lively where you will find a string of restaurants.
This is also a great area to snorkel and look for sea turtles, as the sea turtles are also frequent visitors to this cove. There's also scuba diving offered, and if you're interested, book at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Next to Grand Anse d'Arlet is Petit Anse d'Arlet. This is a smaller beach with a shorter shoreline and way more visitors, but it's also somewhat protected from the ocean currents; although, the waves here are much grander than the ever-calm Grand Anse d'Arlet beach. But, this beach is just a few kilometers away, and it is the most colorful with the colorful church along the shore and its colorful houses.
If you are looking for a relaxing beach on the northern part of the island, check out the black sand beach, Le Carbet.
The beach at Le Diamant has an incredible view of its namesake Diamond-shaped rock. This was one of my favorite sights, especially at dusk when the water glistened from the last glimmers of the day's light. There are relatively few visitors compared to Les Salines and Petit Anse d'Arlet, and there are so plenty of trees so you can find a shady spot. I had one of the best naps of my life here as I listened to the crashing of giant waves against its shore.
The waves are rather large, and although they don't appear too dangerous, I have heard stories about how the beach can be unpredictable. The beach is along a bay, not a cove like many of the other beaches, leaving much more room for rogue, wild waves. A lovely little market and a few tiny eateries share the beach's parking area. Sample typical drinks like Ti Punch and even Guava-infused rum at this market. Try some sorbet from the lady selling it outside. She had some of the most varied flavors I tasted, including fruit that has no english equivalent, and even ginger and melon.