Some of the best locations in the Lesser Antillean to snorkel with sea turtles

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!

Sergeant majors and other types of reef fish in Anses d'Arlet
Sergeant majors gather on the rocky patch facing Anses d’Arlet village.

Snorkeling in Les Anses d’Arlet

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.

Snorkeler observing a green sea turtle in Anse Dufour, Martinique
Close encounter with a green sea turtle in Anse Dufour.

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.

A pair of flying gurnards in Les Anses d'Arlet seagrass beds
A pair of flying gurnards in Anses d’Arlet seagrass beds.

Snorkeling St Anne and Le Marin

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).

A snorkeler freedives over Manman Dlo underwater sculpture
Spectacular freedive over Manman Dlo monumental statue, in front of Saint-Pierre beach.

Snorkeling St Pierre and the northern coast of Martinique

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.

Reef fish swim next to Amelie Wreck debris
A diversity of reef fish call the Amelie Wreck home.

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.

Snorkeling on the Atlantic Coast of Martinique

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.

A spotted moray eel at Anse Couleuvre reef
The spotted moray is pretty common in Martinique’s shallow waters. Unlike most moray eel species, the spotted moray is frequently observed hunting during the day. Here, in Anse Couleuvre.

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.

What will I see while snorkeling in Martinique?

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.

Cup coral in Anse Noire
Orange cup coral incrusted on Anse Noire’s rocky drop-offs.

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.

A green sea turtle in Anse Noire
A green sea turtle in Anse Noire.

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.

What is the best time of the year for snorkeling in Martinique?

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).

Aerial view of Les Anses d'Arlet beach
Aerial view of Les Anses d’Arlet beach.

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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