With flights from several eastern U.S. cities for less than $100 round-trip on Norwegian Airlines, a winter vacation on the Caribbean island of Martinique doesn’t need to break the budget. It’s a doubly exotic destination, combining the pleasures of the Caribbean — beautiful palm-lined beaches, lush tropical gardens and warm water sports — with the distinctly French culture that comes from being a department of France, the equivalent of an American state or Canadian province.
Best Beaches for Families
Of course you’ll want to be close to one of the island’s long, golden-sand beaches. One of the loveliest is the gently sloping Diamond Beach, near the town of Sainte-Luce, a popular base for families. The budget-friendly Diamant Beach has studio units with kitchens and terraces a short walk from the beach and mid-range Hotel Corail Residence, a few miles out of Sainte-Luce, overlooks the dramatic Diamond Rock.
One of the most popular beaches on Martinique, Les Salines is a half mile of postcard-perfect Caribbean sand partially shaded by coconut palms at the southern tip of the island. You’ll find plenty of family-friendly places to stay here.
The island’s southernmost village, pretty little Sainte-Anne has an abundance of smaller beaches, set in palm-fringed coves. The village itself has low key facilities, shops and restaurants, and plenty of self-catering options. Although not in the budget category, the beachfront Club Med Buccaneers Creek Sainte-Anne is popular with families, especially those with teenagers, for its water sports programs and activities for older kids. They also provide a shuttle to and from the airport, a big money saver for those who don’t want to rent a car.
Across the bay from the island capital of Fort-de-France and easy to reach from the airport, Pointe du Bout is a tourist center with plenty of hotels and activities. The moderately priced Hotel La Pagerie is a good choice for families, a five-minute walk from beaches. Anse Mitan, west of Pointe du Bout, is one of Martinique’s best beaches.
Pointe du Bout has other advantages for families. A ferry service crosses the bay to Fort-de-France, worth an afternoon’s exploration, and Pointe du Bout is the best hub for cruises and water sports in and around Fort-de-France Bay. Here you’ll find boat trips of all kinds: skiffs, sailboats, catamarans, cruisers and more. One of the most popular for children is a dolphin-watching cruise, and older kids will enjoy a guided kayak tour into the mangrove forests. These leave from Pointe du Bout and from the nearby Village de la Poterie des Trois-Ilets, an interesting place to visit for its variety of shops and studios, the best place on the island to find the work of local craftspeople and artists.
Lodging for Families
Although there are plenty of hotels and resorts on Martinique, most tourists rent a “gite” or self- catering cottage or apartment. These are easy to find through Airbnb or other lodging sites. Not only are they less expensive than traditional hotels and resorts, but they offer the money-saving advantage of dining in. Grocery stores are well-stocked for self-catering families with local ingredients and ready-to-heat dishes. Stop at a bakery for the superb breads — a heritage from the French. After the first breakfast on fresh-from-the-oven croissants, a morning bakery run will soon be part of your daily routine.