Tombolo of Sainte Marie in Martinique

How to travel ecologically in Martinique? 

The crowded beaches of southern Martinique during the tourist season. The exploding demand for water and the waste that piles up from December to May. The harassment of dolphins during sea walks, due to a lack of knowledge of good practices. The over-visitation of Josephine's bathtub with its hundreds of visitors attracted by the white bottoms and the baptism of rum. The hastily bought souvenirs, in Martinique's colours but made in China. The entrecote at the restaurant, the meat of which was not even produced on the island. 

We don't blame you, it is very easy to fall into the trap of traditional mass tourism during a stay in Martinique. However, our small territory deserves to be protected and promoted for its specificities, in a true ecotourism approach.

Do you want to travel ecologically in Martinique? Follow the guide!

Avant de voyager en Martinique

1. Take the time to get informed

This advice may seem banal (who doesn't read travel guides before leaving!) but the idea is deeper than it seems 😉 Indeed, eco-responsibility being a still minority subject in Martinique, as everywhere else, visiting the island responsibly requires anticipation and preparation. If you want to go jet-skiing or quad biking, it shouldn't be too difficult to find. But if you want to experience slow tourism the Martinique way, you'll have to do a bit of digging to put together an eco-friendly holiday programme. 

In fact, if you are asked what you think are the most environmentally damaging tourist practices in Martinique, you might mention sunscreen that destroys coral.  

But did you know that the sea urchins, lobsters and crawfish served in tourist restaurants are overfished and cannot be caught and therefore offered in restaurants all year round? Did you know that the beautiful holiday villas built on the coastline are accelerating its erosion? That the community in the south of the island struggles to manage waste during the tourist season? Or that catamaran anchors tear up the sea grass when the mooring buoys are not used?

It is necessary to find out in advance about good local practices (more on this in the next paragraph), local eco-friendly initiatives you can take part in, as well as excursions that are labelled or committed to a sustainable approach.

Once you've done your research, you'll be able to enjoy waterfalls, underwater trails, sailing, hiking, horseback riding and snorkelling with turtles.

2. Opt for responsible service providers

To begin with, choose a committed travel guide to plan your Martinique holiday. The GeoGuide, the Michelin Green Guide or the Tao guides are all travel guides that will allow you to discover the island in a more ecological and authentic way. 

When choosing accommodation, favour environmentally friendly rental companies, small bungalows and guest houses. In terms of hotels, Le Bambou*** in Trois-Îlets is a reference in terms of its environmental approach, having been awarded the Green Key and . 

When it comes to excursions, identify ethically minded service providers and fill up on nature walks. Among other responsible activities, you could also take a course in Creole cooking, bèlè dancing, pottery or basketry, and thus share moments with the locals. 

In all cases, go directly through the target company rather than through an intermediary, so that you can discuss its practices beforehand, while guaranteeing a fair price for the service provider, without commission. 

Two additional tips: 

  • Avoid booking a cruise in the Caribbean. The carbon footprint of cruise ships and their impact on the natural environment is simply disastrous, not to mention the social aspect in terms of treatment of employees. 
  • Why not stay away longer to offset the C02 emitted by your flight?  
3. Think eco-responsible when packing your suitcase

These are small things that will have a big impact on your trip: 

  • Bring your own water bottle, to avoid buying plastic water bottles. Don't worry, tap water is drinkable in Martinique 😉 You can filter it by adding a stick of charcoal in your water bottle. 
  • Choose an eco-friendly sun cream, i.e. one that contains mineral filters (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide), no nanoparticles and biodegradable ingredients. The corals will thank you! 
  • If you have any, take a lycra, UV resistant t-shirt, which is still the best way to protect yourself from the sun.  
  • Bring cloth tote bags for shopping, going to the market, and bringing back souvenirs. It doesn't take up much space and you won't have to buy a shopping bag on the spot or accept plastic bags.                                                                          

During your stay in Martinique, adopt the right gestures

1. Limit waste

Collect your waste and sort it, in order to put it in the appropriate bins when you leave. Yes, even on holiday, sorting is necessary 😉    

2. Save resources

Think of the inhabitants and limit the use of water. Water is a resource that will become increasingly scarce, especially on an island that is prone to droughts and suffers from water supply problems due to an imperfect network.   

To limit your carbon impact, also remember to turn off the air conditioning when you go out and limit its use to a minimum temperature of 24°C. 

3. Eat local

Whether it's food, activities or souvenirs: always try to choose locally produced products, handcrafted items and authentic activities. 

Dachines, soursop, mango, pigeon peas, carambola, caimitas... Martinique is full of fruits and vegetables that you may never have tasted, so take advantage of it! However, you should know that some products such as sea urchins are subject to seasonality and regulated fishing. Don't be tempted if you are offered to buy them out of season. The same goes for gorgonians, soft corals that are sometimes used for decoration or jewellery, but which only belong in the sea!

You should know that no less than 16 species of coral are protected in Martinique(the complete list is here), so it is far from being anecdotal. 

3. Respect ecosystems

The trace of the capes on the South Atlantic coast, the trace of the capes in the tropical forest, the ascent of the Pelée mountain or of the Morne Larcher, are as many hikes to be tried, always on condition of being well equipped. 

However, in order to respect the ecosystems, stay on the marked paths (the island offers more than 280 km of marked walks) to preserve the natural environment. You will also limit the risk of accidents, which is a good way to make the most of your holiday. An information board at the start of each hike will tell you what is allowed and what is not. This can range from camping to making a fire, or listening to music through loudspeakers. 

Respecting ecosystems also means not taking anything and not interacting with wildlife. Mygales with their painful bites, poisonous trigonocephalus snakes and sharp-tailed iguanas could unfortunately make you regret it. Don't feed them either, they are very good at coping and know their food.

Also beware of fruits, such as those of the mancenilla tree in particular; if you don't know, don't try them, it's much safer.        

Whether on a boat or in the sea, we remind you that you only touch with your eyes, whether it be corals, sea grass beds, starfish or turtles, which are a protected species in Martinique. This way, you won't transmit any diseases to them. To protect these two marine ecosystems in Martinique, when you go on a boat trip, anchor in the sandy areas but never, ever, in the sea grass beds or coral reefs, so as not to tear them up.                                                                                 

On your return from Martinique

All good things must come to an end, and his eco-friendly holiday in Martinique will no doubt leave you with fond memories. 

When you return home, don't hesitate to share your tips and good advice on the internet, to make green tourism in Martinique a full-fledged experience, and thus facilitate the preparation of the trip for the next eco-conscious holidaymakers. 

Word of mouth, advice from friends and family: this is how responsible tourism will develop further in Martinique.

The service providers and the landscapes are there. All that remains is to promote the destination in order to encourage a more rational development of tourism, for the holidaymakers, for the inhabitants and for Martinique. 

Article written by : Axelle DORVILLE

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