Some of the best locations in the French Caribbean to swim with sea turtles

Bathed by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Martinique has 350km of coastline. The Atlantic coast is partially protected by a barrier reef, whereas the northwest coast of the island has practically no corals. Coral reefs are, along with seagrass meadows and mangroves, the richest marine ecosystems of the island.

Snorkeling with sea turtles in Anses d'Arlet region, Martinique
The Anses d’Arlet region (left) boasts the best snorkeling spots of Martinique to see green turtles, particularly in Anse Dufour (right).

The Anses d’Arlet region, in the south of the island, is undoubtedly the best place in Martinique for snorkeling. You can get into the water in the village of Anses d’Arlet, at Grande Anse d’Arlet (a little further north, where a snorkel trail has been installed), but especially at Anse Dufour and Anse Noire. These two twin beaches (yet so different, one of white sand and the other of black sand) are quite simply one of the best spots in the French West Indies to spot green sea turtles. A not-to-be-missed stopover if you are visiting the island. A little further north, Cap Salomon and Îlet à Ramiers are also two good practice sites, but difficult to access unless you have your own boat.

Fonds marins de l'Anse Figuier
The Anse Figuier seabed, with sergeant majors swimming above rocks, sponges, and coral.

The region of Sainte-Anne, also in the south, is undoubtedly the most touristy in Martinique. It is home to the Plage des Salines, the most photographed beach on the island, but not very suitable for snorkeling. Instead, we advise you to head to Anse Figuier or Pointe Borgnèse, just across the bay of Le Marin. These two spots, about 1km apart, are home to pretty coral reefs. Good swimmers can consider a snorkeling hike from Pointe Borgnèse to Anse Figuier (or vice versa, depending on the current).

Snorkeling sur la sculpture Manman Dlo
Spectacular encounter with Manman Dlo monumental statue, in front of Saint-Pierre beach.

Northern Martinique, wild and mountainous, also offers good opportunities to discover the local underwater life. In Saint-Pierre, at the foot of Mount Pelée, you can explore Manman Dlo, a monumental sculpture resting in front of a black sand beach. 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 forest, these wild beaches are bordered by pretty coral reefs, full of life.

Snorkeling at Anse Couleuvre beach, Martinique
The wild and pristine Anse Couleuvre is a perfect place to enjoy a beach & snorkeling day on the island.

Protected by a small coral reef, the Atlantic coast of Martinique also has many snorkeling spots. Poor around the beaches, the seabed is more spectacular 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), or Îlet Madame (opposite Le Robert) to discover the richness of the local underwater life.

Murène tachetée
The spotted moray is pretty common in Martinique shallow waters, hiding in the holes of the reef.

While snorkeling in Martinique, you will be able to observe a wide variety of fish, invertebrates, and corals. More than 300 species of fish typical of Caribbean ecosystems frequent the coasts of the island. Butterflyfish, angelfish (especially French angelfish and queen angelfish), tang, pufferfish, bluehead wrasse, and damselfish are easy to see at any spot. In the rocky areas, there are moray eels, snake eels, Jack-knifefish, and sometimes lobsters. The cushion sea star, also common on many spots, appreciates seagrass and sandy bottoms. To swim with green sea turtles, head to the spots in the Anses d’Arlet region, where they are almost unmissable, particularly at Anse Dufour. Encounters with sharks and rays remain quite rare on the Martinique coast.

When to go to snorkeling Martinique?

Martinique enjoys a tropical climate tempered by oceanic influences and the trade winds. In the region a dry season, known as “lent” (from January to June) can be distinguished from a humid 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 swim for several days, runs from May to November

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