The Caravelle Peninsula
For anyone who read our American’s Guide to Martinique, you know that the highlight of the island for us was the Caravelle Peninsula. This little stretch of land on the east side of the island isn’t usually on people’s radar, but based on our week-long experience in Martinique, we would recommend making this the focal point of any trip.
There isn’t a huge selection of resorts and hotels on the island compared to other Caribbean destinations so we opted to stay at an Airbnb in the town of Tartane. It was a 3-unit house on the side of a hill with a pool and great views of the ocean. The unit we stayed at had two bedrooms, a nice kitchen, and a private deck with a grill and a hammock. The man who owned the house was a Frenchman named Claude who spoke maybe two words of English but was extremely friendly and helpful. Claude greeted us upon our arrival, gave us a tour of the house, and ensured us that there are “no bad boys”. Still not entirely sure what that meant, but we did not encounter a single bad boy during our stay…so I suppose Claude wasn’t lying. He also cleaned the pool religiously both by hand and with one of those robotic pool cleaners so we were basically swimming in a giant Brita pitcher. Anyway, despite the obvious language barrier, he was an excellent host, and this ended up being the perfect place to stay.
The house was located just off the main road in Tartane, a sleepy little town with an interesting mix of vacation homes and somewhat run down neighborhoods. There were a handful of restaurants located along the main road right across the street from the water, and although the area felt very local and not at all touristy, the restaurants often seemed to be filled with visitors from mainland France. We happened to be visiting during Carnival, so there were parades and parties all afternoon and evening for the first three days of our stay. Every restaurant and store in the area shut their doors in the afternoon to get ready for the festivities. The beach in Tartane itself was nothing to write home about, but the best beaches on the island were located a two minute drive or 20 minute walk further down the peninsula.
In our humble opinion, L’Etang is the best beach on the island. It combines the quintessential swaying palm tree look with the rugged cliffs you might expect on the coast of California. It was never crowded since it’s fairly remote. The waves were huge and whenever spent time there, there were a good amount of people surfing. There are also a couple of cool restaurants right on the beach.
This beach most likely has a real name but we have no clue what it is. It is located a couple minutes past Anse L’Etang on the Rue du Surf. This was a really rugged beach and definitely seemed like the best surfing destination on the island.
Hiking The Caravelle Peninsula
The far end of the peninsula is mostly protected land and there are a few scenic hiking trails that hug the shoreline. There are two loops that start and end at Chateau Dubuc that descend into a mangrove swamp before continuing along the rocky coastline. The smaller loop takes about 45 minutes and the longer one takes closer to two hours.
Where to Eat
Cocoa Beach Cafe:
The Cocoa Beach Cafe is located right on Anse L’Etang and was our favorite restaurant in Martinique. The food is excellent, the view is amazing, and they have swings and a slack line…which is nice. Most importantly, the owners speak perfect English so we didn’t need to rely on our usual method of mixing English, Spanish and sign language to order our meals.
Another good spot not too far from Tartane. Good food and our waiter spoke English. Nice view of Anse L’Etang if you go during the daytime.
This place isn’t actually called “Pizza Crepes” but they have a big sign out front that says “Pizza Crepes” so we refer to it as “Pizza Crepes”. It’s located right on the main road in Tartane right across from the water and they have outdoor seating. Their pizza was good…So were the crepes.