Josephine’s Bath – Martinique
Josephine’s Bath is a hidden gem within a hidden gem. At least among Americans, the French Caribbean island of Martinique is not a popular vacation destination. This is in no way due to a lack of natural beauty compared to neighboring islands; rather, the island’s tourism industry is heavily targeted towards French-speaking visitors. Americans thinking of visiting the French island should read our American’s Guide to Martinique. Once on the island, it would be easy to miss Josephine’s Bath, because A) everything is in French and it’s hard to know what the heck is going on, and B) it’s not really advertised as an individual destination. It is generally a somewhat brief stop on half-day/full-day boat excursions that leave from the east side of the island.
What is Josephine’s Bath?
Josephine’s Bath (Baignoire de Joséphine) is a shallow section of ocean located between two small offshore islands (Ilet Thiery and Ilet Oscar). It is just a short boat ride from the nearby town of Le Francois. The beautiful shoal is named after the the French Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (Napoleon’s wife), because legend has it that this was her favorite swimming spot. Whether or not the legend is truly (it almost certainly is not since she lived on the other side of the island) is really of no consequence given how beautiful the white sands and turquoise waters are.
How to Get There
A number of boat tours leaving from the nearby towns of Le Francois and Le Robert offer a variety of itineraries that include a stop at Josephine’s Bath. The boats all congregate around the crystalline waist-deep water, some playing music and some providing passengers with local drinks. It’s basically a mini party in the middle of the ocean, the duration of which completely depends on which tour you choose.
There are dozens of local tour operators that stop here, but here are a few options:
It’s highly recommended to book something in advance, but there’s always a chance that someone will have an opening on their boat if you just walk down to the dock in Le Francois.