Made up of a main island and fifty uninhabited islets, Martinique is the southernmost region of the French West Indies. Martinique is famous for snorkeling with green sea turtles, especially in the shallow coves of the southwestern part of the island. But you will find all along its coastline dozens of other good-quality snorkeling spots where it is easy to discover the Caribbean marine life, including butterflyfish, moray eels, angelfish and many more. Almost all the snorkeling spots on the island are freely accessible from the shore.
Martinique has 215 miles of coastline bathed by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. If the Atlantic coast is partially protected by a barrier reef, the northwest coast of the island has practically no corals. Martinique’s coastline is dotted with an abundance of coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangroves, wrecks, and even underwater sculptures that offer highly contrasting snorkeling experiences. Check out the best places to experience Martinique snorkeling!
The Anses d’Arlet region, in the south of the island, is undoubtedly the best snorkeling area in Martinique. There, you can snorkel from the beach of Anses d’Arlet village, or at Grande Anse d’Arlet, a little further north where a snorkel trail has been installed, but the two most popular locations are Anse Dufour and Anse Noire.
These are twin beaches, yet both are so different. One has white sand and the other has black sand, and they are among the best locations in the French West Indies to swim with green sea turtles. Shallow Anse Dufour is the place where they are the most abundant, but many turtles visit deeper Anse Noire too. Don’t miss these places if you are visiting the island!
A little further north, Cap Salomon and Îlet à Ramiers are also two good snorkel locations, but difficult to access unless you have your own boat.
Almost every tourist who visits Martinique stays for a day or more in the region of Sainte-Anne, at the southern tip of the island. Its charming coastline hosts the Plage des Salines, the island’s signature beach. This pristine golden sand beach, lined with coconut trees is, however, not very suitable for snorkeling.
Instead, we advise you to head to Anse Figuier or Pointe Borgnèse, at the entrance of Baie du Marin. These two locations, less than a mile apart, are home to pretty coral reefs. Good swimmers can consider snorkeling from Pointe Borgnèse to Anse Figuier (or vice versa, depending on the prevailing current).
Northern Martinique, wild and mountainous, also offers good opportunities to discover the local underwater life. Its black, volcanic sand offers a spectacular marine environment. In Saint-Pierre, at the foot of Mount Pelée, you can go see Manman Dlo, a monumental sculpture installed in front of a black sand beach.
In the same area, the Amelie Wreck is another popular snorkeling spot, although a bit deep to be fully enjoyed from the surface of the sea.
Further north, at the end of the road, Anse Couleuvre and Anse Céron are two spots that are worth seeing. Nestled at the foot of cliffs and lush tropical forests, these natural beaches are lined by pretty coral reefs, full of life.
Protected by a coral barrier, the Atlantic coast of Martinique also has many snorkeling spots to explore. While snorkeling is poor around the main island’s beaches, the seabed is more lively around the small islets lying in front of the coast.
Take a boat trip to Îlet Chevalier (near Sainte-Anne), Îlet Thiery (at Le François, and equipped with a snorkel trail), or Îlet Madame (opposite Le Robert) to discover the Atlantic coast underwater life. The shallows mainly feature seagrass beds with many sea stars, queen conch, reef fish, and occasional stingrays.
While snorkeling in Martinique, you will encounter a wide variety of fish, invertebrates, and corals. More than 300 species of fish typical of Caribbean ecosystems frequent the island’s shore waters.
Butterflyfish, angelfish, including the French angelfish and the queen angelfish, tang, pufferfish, bluehead wrasse, and damselfish are easy to see at almost any location. The rocky areas are home to moray eels, snake eels, Jack-knifefish, and occasional lobsters. The cushion sea star, also easy to see, is mainly found in the seagrass and sandy beds.
To swim with green sea turtles, head to the Anses d’Arlet region, where they are easy to spot, especially at Anse Dufour and Anse Noire. Sharks and rays are rarely encountered in Martinique shallows.
If you are planning a snorkeling trip to Martinique or anywhere else in the Caribbean, we recommend the excellent Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas (also available in ebook). This essential reference guide will allow you to ID the fish you will encounter while snorkeling the island.
Martinique enjoys a tropical climate tempered by oceanic influences and trade winds. In the region, a dry season, known as “lent” (from January to June) can be distinguished from a wet season (“wintering”, from July to December).
With an average temperature of 80°F/27°C (77-90°F/25-32°C in the dry season and 75-85°F/24-29°C in the humid season), and an average water temperature of 82°F/28°C, snorkeling can be enjoyed all through the year. The hurricane season, which may prevent sailing and swimming for several days, runs from May to November
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ADD A SPOT
Unmissable at Anse Noire and Anse Dufour; occasionally sighted in Les Anses d’Arlet
Frequently observed all around the island; common at Anse Couleuvre
Found on all spots, often in large schools
On all spots; appreciates rocky areas
Abundant on seabeds covered with sea fans, for instance at Anse Couleuvre
On all spots
On all spots, sometimes in small groups just below the surface
Sheltered cove with seagrass meadows and sea turtles
Free shore access
Free shore access
Fringing coral reef with a vibrant marine life
Vibrant coral reef and seagrass meadows with sea turtles
Monumental sculpture immersed in front of a black-sand beach
Rocky point bordered by a shallow coral reef
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