Martinique is a beautiful country with a unique culture and history. But driving can be a…challenge, to put it mildly. Between the scarcity of automatic vehicles (I don’t drive stick) and the, shall we say, veracity and technique of Martinique drivers, driving in the country was high on our priority list. Yet in order to view the island to the fullest, you need a car because cabs are exorbitant. Enter Karambole Tours.
Karambole Tours offers several tours to give visitors the heart of Martinique. The owner, Christelle, is bilingual offering English, French or English and French combo tours. Karambole is new, just beginning tours in November, but it is clear that Christelle cares deeply about the island and wants others to see its beauty. And she is super talented; she narrates back and forth between English and French with ease and finesse.
Pile et Face Tour
We did the Pile et Face Tour, which made several stops and covered a large portion of the island. And along the way we had delicious pastries along the way.
Our first stop was the Sacred Heart Montmartre de Balata Church. Look familiar? If you have been to Paris, this one you may recognize as a replica of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This beautiful structure is hilltop and features absolutely stunning architecture.
But the real joy is inside. The alter and stained glass was beautiful. The high ceilings and the dome were magnificent. Around the dome at the top had an amazing level of detail, and even though I don’t speak French, I could instantly tell that at the four corners were depictions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Absolutely beautiful.
But before taking in the church, Christelle offered some history, along with tumeric bread with souskay and banana wine.
Martinique is an extremely lush island, with dense rainforests. So next, we were on to the rainforest area (where it indeed rained). We first stopped at the Alma River for photos and enjoyed hot chocolate and a cinnamon apple pastry. We then headed over to a cute little waterfall, where we waded through the river to get to the pool. Unfortunately, the rain started coming down at that point, or we would have enjoyed more time in the waterfall.
Mt. Pelee and Saint-Pierre
Check this: There is an active volcano on Martinique. Didn’t know Mt. Pelee was still active before I arrived. But on the tour, we stopped for a scenic overlook where Christelle gave us some history on the ‘catastrophe’ as the Martinicans call it, the huge eruption in 1902 that killed most everyone in and destroyed Saint-Pierre. We then went down into the town to walk the streets and see the old outdoor theater.
There is–legitimately–not a weak drink on Martinique. Seriously. Rhum is the liquor of choice, so we enjoyed a tasting at DePaz Distillery. There they have all sorts of flavored rhums (my personal favorite is the Passionfruit Rhum). The pours are small, but they pack a mean punch. We took only a few minutes to check out the hilltop grounds before getting right down to business, but there was a lot to see if you had the time.
Black Sand Beach
Our last stop of the day was at a black sand beach. To be fair, the sand wasn’t an onyx-toned sand, but lighter, more of a grey beach. But the sand coloration was caused by the volcano. The beach was beautiful and relatively uninhabited. We relaxed there for a bit before heading back to Fort de France to catch our ferry.
All in all, we could have been more pleased with our tour. We covered a lot of ground in just one day, and had great local delicacies along the way. Christelle has put together a great itinerary, but even if you have other things on your itinerary (like the Anse Caffard Memorial or the Jardin de Balata), Karambole offers other tours hitting those sites. The prices are more than reasonable, and Christelle is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about Martinique. I highly recommend this tour company to anyone visiting the island.
*While Karambole Tours offered a media ticket for this tour, the review is my honest opinion and the review is all my own.
Angelic Sinova says
Sounds like you had an amazing tour. Martinique looks like such a lovely place! That rain forest looks so stunning. Something about rain forests and forests in general are so calming to me <3
Angelic, it was very calming. Super peaceful.
Martinique is on my list of Caribbean Islands to visit. It looks like such a fun place. I’m headed to Turks and Caicos this summer. My husband and I try to visit a Caribbean Island each year. We love them all!
Alli, check out my most recent posts on Turks and Caicos! High on my list!
Martinique excursions says
Is there anyway we can be featured on your site?
Hello, please feel free to reach out to us directly. Thanks!
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
I’ve always wanted to go to Martinique since I learned about it in school. I would have expected the sand at the black beach to be black as well.
Shirley Wood says
Your photos are gorgeous. I have implanted myself (in my mind) sitting in a chair by the Alma River sipping that cup of hot chocolate and enjoying that apple pastry. How beautiful and relaxing!
What a fabulous vacation. Now I want to go!
Heather lawrence says
You had me at Rum 🙂 I have to agree with you that is the drink of choice in this house that’s for sure. Love looking at your beach photos..makes me want to curl up on the sand and ignore the ice and cold!
Martinique looks like a beautiful island to visit! I would love to travel there one day.
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
This looks like such a fabulous tour! That black sand beach looks truly breathtaking. I would love to visit this spot!
I don’t even know where Martinique is but loving the sound of Karambole tours. I always make it a missing to take local tours when I travel
Anosa, it’s in the southern Caribbean and it’s fantastic!
Liz Mays says
I’d definitely want to take one of these tours. I’d have a lot of fun learning about Martinique and its history.
These photos are amazing. I bet the tour was even better in-person. I can’t even image. What a greta experience.
Megan Elford says
Oh wow, what a beautiful place! I totally see why you would rather do a tour than ferry yourself around too. You not only avoid the challenge of driving, but get to see so many great sights! I can’t believe there’s an active volcano too … yikes!
I’m really glad that I read your post as I’ve never visited or known anyone who has visited Martinique. It looks beautiful and I would love to go there, but I would not dare drive. I rarely rent vehicles when I travel which does stop me from seeing a lot and taking taxis can get expensive.
What a beautiful destination! The photos of the rain forest and beach have me day dreaming about my next vacation.
Martinique is truly a beautiful island. I would love to see a black sand beach in person
Travel Blogger says
I would love to take a tour here! The black sand beach looks gorgeous! I love to take tours where you find incredible places that are virtually uninhabited. It makes me feel like an explorer discovering it for the first time lol!
Mimi Green says
This sounds and looks like a beautiful place. I would totally enjoy the rainforest and waterfall the most. A
Having to drive a stick would be the end of the adventure for me! I definitely need an automatic or a driver! It looks like a beautiful place though.
Jasmine Watts says
I’ve never been in Martinique country before but it sounds really beautiful country to visit! Thanks for your review!!
Ingrid Baptiste says
April 2016 :My daughter decided not to rent a car because of stick-shift drive. and were we glad that we left the driving to our guide Christelle!. Her mastery of the hair-pin bends, friendly manner and providing bites of local treats at strategic rest stops..allowed us to expe rience Martinique as a beautiful pictorial history book…Enjoyable.