Bunny Visits Petite Martinique
Have you ever heard of a small Caribbean island called Petite Martinique? No? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Few people are aware of this small hideaway and even fewer travel there. Petite Martinique is waaay off the usual tourist trail.
That’s what attracted Bunny to visit. Plus, the minor detail that she happens to live in Carriacou, an island next door to Petite Martinique…
Petite Martinique is the smallest of the three inhabited islands that make up Bunny’s new home country of Grenada. The population of Petite Martinique is around 900 people, most of whom live in the coastal villages of Madame Pierre, Sanchez and Paradise. Most of the inhabitants of this sleepy island are involved in fishing or boatbuilding which are the two traditional professions here.
Despite its French name, and some shared history, Petite Martinique doesn’t really have any French influences these days. The current residents are mostly of African, Indian or Scottish descent.
Petite Martinique is not a tourist destination per se and cannot boast luxurious hotels or gorgeous beaches. If you fancy that sort of thing, the exclusive resort of Petite St. Vincent, located a stone throw from Petite Martinique, might be more your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for authentic Caribbean experiences, head out to Petite Martinique…
How to Get There?
Petite Martinique is located only 2,5 miles from Carriacou.
The easiest way to get to Petite Martinique is to travel to Windward on the Eastern coast of Carriacou and take the boat Chez Charmagne. Chez Charmagne operates daily between the two islands and the trip takes just 10-15 minutes. The boat ride costs 20 EC (USD$7) per person one way.
The small Osprey ferry also runs between Carriacou and Petit Martinique on weekdays. It leaves from the Hillsborough jetty in Carriacou so the journey is a bit longer. Tickets cost 20 EC (USD$7) one way. Call ahead to make sure the Osprey is actually running - sometimes it’s not. This is the Caribbean, after all.
Where to Stay?
There are no hotels on Petite Martinique. The best place to stay is Millennium Connection Guest House which can be booked on AirBnB. It is a cozy 4-bedroom bed & breakfast which has a great location just a 5-minute walk from the main jetty in Sanchez, where the ferries from and to Carriacou dock.
The Bunnies stayed in the Wedding Room which has an ensuite bathroom; the other rooms have private bathrooms along the corridor. The guest house is extremely clean, comfortable and nicely furnished. There are also small, thoughtful details throughout, that travellers can appreciate.
And Odinga is the perfect hostess! She clearly knows how to make her guests comfortable and is happy to help with any and all arrangements during your visit, including a visit to Mopion island (more on that later). The Bunnies particularly appreciated Odinga cooking them tasty vegetarian breakfasts on request for a very reasonable price.
What to Do?
It is not difficult to get around Petite Martinique. There is one road, Main Street, and only a handful of cars (Bunny saw 3 during her visit). Most people walk around and Bunny was happy to do the same.
She started by visiting the Petite Martinique Welcome Center near the main jetty for some friendly advice, including about the Piton hike.
The highest point of Petite Martinique, named simply Piton, rises 750 feet above sea level. Obviously, Bunny just had to climb it during her visit.
So shortly after their arrival in Petite Martinique, the Bunnies ventured on the hike - at high noon in extreme heat and sunshine as they inadvertently tend to do. They first passed the island’s only church, Sacred Heart Church, then turned south and headed up the steep hill towards the summit.
The first part of the hike followed a paved road, past local houses, gardens and graves. After a while, the road turned into a footpath that was quite well-marked with cute handmade Piton signs along the way. There was no real risk of getting lost.
Going up during the midday heat was tough-going at times, but the higher the Bunnies got, the more spectacular the scenery became. Turquoise waters, nearby Grenadian islands and the seemingly endless sea surrounded them in all directions.
The last part of the hike was very steep and rocky, but there was a very handy rope railing that had been installed giving hikers some extra support on the tricky terrain.
After all the hard work, reaching the summit itself was somewhat anticlimactic as it ends on a small patch of rocks, but it was a relief, and the views really couldn’t be beat.
The Bunnies decided to make their way down from the Piton following a different route, heading south. The kind lady at the Welcome Center had advised them to follow various goat paths until they found a paved road, Main Street again, but this time on the south-eastern part of the island. This is exactly what the Bunnies did.
Returning to their accommodation by walking clockwise on the Main Road, they strolled past cute local houses, cemeteries and plenty of sheep and goats. They also stopped for cold refreshments and a chat with friendly local ladies and learned a bit more about the quiet life on the island.
Petite Martinique is not exactly a big island but Bunny wanted to visit an even smaller one, arguable the smallest island in the Caribbean, during her trip: Mopion.
This tiny sandbank is technically part of the neighbouring country of St. Vincent and Grenadines but, luckily, strict border formalities are not always observed in the Caribbean.
So Bunny approached a local fisherman, with the kind help of Odinga, to take her and Mr. Bunny for a few hours of liming (relaxing) on Mopion. The island is just a 5-minute boat ride from Petite Martinique and provides an excellent backdrop as a dreamy tropical getaway. Not that there is anything on Mopion - apart from a lone sun umbrella in the middle of the sandbank. But it is a gorgeous place, with some snorkelling and turquoise waters surrounding you in all directions.
During the Bunnies’ visit, a fancy super yacht belonging to an American billionaire was anchored quite close to the island. Bunny was a bit nervous of having to share her deserted island experience with some filthy rich, obnoxious people, but they had the good sense of staying on their boat during that morning. Good!
Exploring the Cave
Before visiting Petite Martinique, Bunny had seen photos of a cool-looking sea cave on the island. After having received instructions on how to find it, the Bunnies started on the Main Road towards Madame Pierre. They first passed the local cricket venue where excited school children were trying their hand at the popular sport, then some goats grazing by the roadside, then some more goats and eventually they spotted a dilapidated old house on the side of the road.
There is a short (steep) path down to the cave from there. The cave is easy to find but it is only accessible at low tide. It is worth a quick visit, albeit it was not as spectacular as in the photos online, Bunny says.
Bunny had always thought that there weren’t really any beaches to speak of on Petite Martinique. Her visit didn’t convince her otherwise. But Bunny has become a bit of a beach snob, having been spoiled with numerous gorgeous beaches on Carriacou…
So while there are some beaches on Petite Martinique, Bunny wasn’t very impressed with them. In addition, Petite Martinique was suffering from quite a bit of sargassum seaweed during Bunny’s visit, which didn’t help matters.
Where to Eat?
Bunny was not expecting much in terms of vegetarian fare on Petite Martinique but ended up being positively surprised. Odinga whipped up nice vegetarian breakfasts at Millennium Connection Guest House and snacks were readily available in the local supermarkets. But the real highlight was the Palm Beach Restaurant.
Palm Beach Restaurant
Palm Beach Restaurant is arguably Petite Martinique’s best restaurant. It offers simple, but delicious local food and drinks served in its pleasant seaside grounds. Bunny was most impressed upon learning that they were able to cook fully vegetarian dinners for the Bunnies. This is not always a given on an island that traditionally lives off the sea.
The Bunnies' visit to Petite Martinique was short but very sweet. Their two-day and one-night itinerary was perfect and allowed them to see Petite Martinique at its best but still at a reasonable, non-hectic pace.
So, if you want to visit a Caribbean island most people have never heard of, go to Petite Martinique, Bunny says! You’ll get a quiet, unhurried experience on an island where tourists are a rarity and where the lifestyle hasn’t really changed much for decades.