Le Marine (a prime area) is composed of 13 cantons and 12 communes. As its name suggests, the arrondissement covers the coastal regions of Martinique.
Situated at the end of a bay surrounded by Pointe Marin and Pointe Borgnesse, Le Marine has been a favourite shipping port since colonial times. Not surprisingly, the arrondissement is home to one of the largest marinas in the Caribbean.
Le Marine is also famous for Piton Crève-Cœur. This old volcano of basalt and andesite covers most of the island’s southern region. It is surrounded by dense dry tropical forests rich in aromatic trees, such as the Caribbean pine, pear tree, and sisal plants.
Located at the foot of the volcano is Crève-Cœur, an old sugar plantation built at the beginning of the 18th century. It has the oldest steam generator in Martinique.
The commune of Le Diamant in southwestern Martinique includes the famous Rocher du Diamant (Diamond Rock). It is also home to a small extinct volcano called Morne Larcher, which has in its crater a savannah with mango and guava trees. Also found in the region is the beautiful Grande Anse du Diamant, a beach adorned with coconut palms.
Le Diamant is one of the most popular diving spots in the country.
In recent years, the commune has been the site of significant archaeological finds dating back to the Pre-Columbian era.
Rocher du Diamant
Rocher du Diamant, or Diamond Rock, is a barren, 175-metre-high basalt island formed millions of years ago by volcanic upheaval. It is actually the remnant of an ancient volcano that has eroded away through the millennia. The island got its name from the mirror-like reflections its surface casts, just like the facets of a diamond, during certain times of the day.
Recognizing its strategic importance in the Caribbean during the Napoleonic Wars, Diamond Rock was briefly occupied by the British from 1801 to 1805 before it was recaptured by the French. It is probably the only natural rock formation to be commissioned as a sloop in the British Royal Navy, which fortified it and designated it HMS Diamond Rock.
Its volcanic origins were revealed on May 13, 1902—following the major eruption of Mount Pelée—when the captain of the Norwegian steamship Talisman noted fire, ash and lava coming out of a hole in the rock. This report, however, was never investigated or confirmed.
Situated at the far southern end of Martinique, Sainte Anne is a pretty little region of painted houses set in an awe-inspiring landscape of white sand beaches.
The most popular beach is Les Salines.
Sainte Anne is also the home of the Ornithological Reserve of Sainte Anne. Encompassing the islets of Hardy, Burgeaux, Percé, and Poirier (or Tois Roux), the reserve protects the nesting sites of sea birds.
Five more natural sites in the commune have been registered to the Parc Naturel Regional de la Martinique: the namely Baie des Anglais, Crève-Cœur, Cul-de-Sac Ferré, Savane des Pétrifications, and the Caps area.
Les Salines, named after a salt pond backing the beach, is one of the most majestic beaches of Martinique, with its pristine white sands, palm trees and panoramic views of the ocean. It is also the only gay beach in Martinique.
Les Salines has snack bars conveniently stationed under the coconut trees, but does not have shower or bath facilities.
The best time to go to Les Salines is on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.
The commune of Sainte-Luce is situated in the west coast of the southern end of Martinique between Le Diamant and Le Marin.
Sainte-Luce boasts the largest number of hotels on the island, which accommodate tourists to its many beaches like Gros Raisins, Anse Corps de Garde, and Anse Mabouyas, just to name a few. One of these resorts is the Village de Saint-Luce.
The commune is also famous for the Forest of Montravail, a richly diverse preserve and the site of an ancient Pre-Columbian settlement. Four rocks in the area are engraved with petroglyphs.
Pointe du Marin
The beach of Pointe du Marin runs along the coast that marks the entry point to the Bay of Marin.
It is a popular beach for the whole family because of its calm waters and fine white sands. It is also a good location for diving and jet-skiing.
Because Pointe du Marin faces west, its exposure to the sun is much longer, making it very hot at certain times of the day. Thankfully, dense trees provide much-needed shade. The beach also has shower and bath facilities to help visitors cool down.
The main appeal of Anse Mabouyas is its seclusion, because it is far from major roads.
More often than not, the beach is deserted, and one could swim and just relax in a hammock in peace and blissful privacy.
Anse Mabouyas is quite safe for solo swimming and snorkelling because its waters are not exposed to strong ocean currents.
The commune of Les Trois-Ilets is a major tourist spot. Its main natural attractions are its beaches, which include the popular Pointe du Bout and Anse Mitan. It is also famous for its spectacular sceneries of Fort-de-France Bay and the surrounding islets of Thebloux, Charles, Sixtain, Gros Ilet, and Ilet a Ramier.
Another popular natural attraction is the Vatable Forest. Found on Pointe Vatable, it is a littoral forest noted for its diverse tree species that flourish along the more salty coastline. Some trees found in the forest include palm trees, teak, mahogany, Caribbean pine and eucalyptus.
There are some sites of historical significance in Les Trois-Ilets. One is the old sugar refinery of Maison de la Canne, which has on display photos and equipment used in the sugar refining trade. It also boasts an old steam locomotive, which was once used to transport sugarcane to various regions on the island. The other is the old plantation of La Pagerie, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte's first wife Josephine. Just walking distance from La Pagerie are the beautiful Creole gardens of Anse d'Arlet.
Those looking to buy souvenirs in this quaint little region should pay a visit to the Pottery Village east of Le Trois-Ilets. The artisans ply their trade in old brick buildings, using pottery techniques that were passed down from the Arawak and Carib Indians.
Pointe du Bout
The west coast of Les Trois-Ilets is home to the beautiful beach of Pointe du Bout, surrounded by tropical forests. It is not large, but it is the most developed resort area in Martinique. It boasts a number of luxury hotels and resorts, restaurants and al fresco cafés, high-fashion boutiques and shops, a casino, and a marina. It has tennis courts, water sports, and horseback-riding facilities as well.