Martinique 2017 – warm weather (and political/social) interlude

Anse Dufour

Anse Dufour

The political insanity that is taking place in America right now has me experiencing a kind of fear, anxiety, and dread I have not experienced in my lifetime. Thus, writing a blog post on my recent trip to Martinique seems so frivolous. But I am not egotistical enough to think that such a post is going to have any effect either way.  It certainly was a warm weather break from the harsh winter weather I had been dealing with on the road trip I rushed back for this trip.

We had visited Martinique last year, after hearing about the cheap flights from Boston on Norwegian Air, via a friend of mine. Way back last August, before I knew I would be embarking on a big skiing road trip, I had purchased tickets to Martinique again, thinking a quick warm weather break from winter would be nice, and necessary.  I had wanted to go to Guadaloupe, but the flight schedule was not agreeable, so Martinique it was. Martinique is an overseas region of France, and one of the islands making up the Lesser Antilles. Probably because it is a part of France, airfares from France are likely cheap, and the result is a ton of French visitors.

Source: http://s725.photobucket.com/user/Gaetandu972/media/Forum/caribbean-map-1.jpg.html

Martinique is one of the windward islands in the Lesser Antilles. Source: http://s725.photobucket.com/user/Gaetandu972/media/Forum/caribbean-map-1.jpg.html

Norwegian Air has flights to/from Martinique from Boston every Wednesday and Sunday; the Wednesday to Sunday stay is a very suitable length of time to fully explore the small island (smaller than the US state of Rhode Island).

While small, Martinique is surprisingly diverse in its geography. The north part of the island is more mountainous and wetter, as it is more exposed to the northeasterlies (the trade winds from the Northeast). Being on the lee side, the western part of the island is quite dry; the south part of the island is dry too and has more beaches and amenities, making it more touristy.

In our previous visit, we stayed north of La Trinité, and did a lot of driving around the north part of the island and through the middle. This time, we wanted to do less driving and more swimming/eating :) Our hotel was just south of Le Francois, putting us in a very convenient location to access the south part of the island.

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The south part of Martinique. I could not find a better map online than the beat up driving map I kept.

When we were looking for hotels online, it seemed like many used a fishbowl lens to give the impression of a bigger room. Our hotel needed no such deception; the suite was enormous. A family of 6 could have easily slept there, with room to spare.

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Sunrise from our balcony (Photo: Scott McKay)

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Our room had this random safe in it. Check out how thick the safe/door walls are!

Our room had floor to ceiling bookshelves – a veritable library. The texts certainly followed a theme…

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One guess which way the owner of these books leans politically

The theme continues…

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While basic, the balcony area had a large fridge, a sink, hotplate for cooking, and all the cookware and serving ware one might need. We ate out the entire time though, consuming copious quantities of accras de morue (a ubiquitous appetizer), poulet (colombo, boucane), poisson (blaff, court bouillon, and grille), and coconut ice-cream, flan, and blanc mange. I never have 3 (or even 2) full meals a day, so I was surprised to be able to pack it all in me.

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The dining area and bar/kitchenette on our balcony

We thought we would do a “quick” drive around the perimeter of the southwest peninsula since we had missed doing that on our last visit.

southwest-martinique-map

We stumbled across Anse Dufour only because it looked like a good view from the road, so we descended, and found this great swimming beach. We ended up coming here all three days.

Anse Dufour

Anse Dufour

We saw a lot of fishing boats and fisherman, and traps as I was swimming. The protected bay of Anse Dufour seems to make it amenable for fishing, and the port capital of the island, Fort-de-France is not a long boat ride away for fisherman to bring their catch to.

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Photo: Scott McKay

The water here is very popular amongst snorkelers, and we would see boats coming in with snorkelers, dropping them off to snorkel around and have lunch at one of the restaurants on the beach. While water visibility was good, I did not see anything of interest.

As we drove around the peninsula, we saw the Rocher du Diamant. I guess it catches people’s attention because it is sitting on its own out in the water. It was occupied at one point and had some significance in the Napoleonic Wars.

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le-diamant

Photo: Scott McKay

As you drive into Le Diamant, you see a very long beach; it is hard not to pull over and check it out. The beach was Grande Anse du Diamant, a 2.5 mile stretch of beach. Strong winds make it good for windsurfing; not so much for swimming.

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The Rocher du Diamant from Grande Anse du Diamant

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Looking down Grande Anse du Diamant. The sand is a dark volcanic sand.

The weather was more variable on our third and final visit to Anse Dufour. The clouds were doing cool things.

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Photo: Scott McKay

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Photo: Scott McKay

Anse Noir is located around a very small peninsula from Anse Dufour. What makes it noteworthy is that it is a black sand beach located so close to a white sand one.

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Anse Noire

We swam out far enough at Anse Dufour to see Mont Pelee. It was cool to catch another perspective of it from the lookout to Anse Noire.

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Mont Pelée, the highest point on the island

A more secluded beach we frequented on our last visit is Anse Trabaud. A very rough road and fee keep the crowds away. We enjoyed returning there, but the nice swimming at Anse Dufour and shitty drive to Anse Trabaud made the former more appealing.

I have mixed feelings on Martinique as a destination suited for people of limited mobility. This is not a third world area by any stretch of the imagination, but sidewalks are very narrow and in some places quite uneven, making them tricky to negotiate if you were in a wheelchair, say. I was able to get around perfectly fine, plodding up/down steps and slopes where they were. The public restroom situation can give me some anxiety because of my SCI. While not the most well-lit or comfortable, most towns and larger beaches will have them.

I returned having overindulged. After a Chinese New Year Dinner this past Sunday, and a full day to sort things out, it is off to Chamonix tonight!

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