These French Caribbean islands are the stuff of your French tropical getaway, with the sophistication, and refinement of the French, alongside the laissez-faire island vibe and attitude. Despite being both French, the subtle differences they have will always be your determining factor: which is better?
Are Martinique and Saint Martin the Same?
Martinique and Saint Martin might sound and look like they’re the same, or of the same roots and origin, but they’re not. In fact, Martinique isn’t even derived from the name “Martin” in any way. What makes them the same, however, is their relationship with France, and their heavy French-influenced culture.
For one, Martinique’s name wasn’t taken from “Martin”, as it would seem, it was actually derived from the local creole moniker “matinik”, or “matnik”, which was taken from the Kalinago term “Madinina” or “Madiana” which means “island of flowers” or “island of women”. While Saint Martin’s name was given to it by Christopher Columbus because it was discovered on the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours.
Today, both islands, share a common colonial parentage, and state, the Republic of France. Both islands have had colonial, historical, and now, political, cultural, and economic ties with France. Saint Martin has a status of a French collectivity, while Martinique is a department or region of France both of which are part of the Overseas departments, region, and territories of France in the Caribbean, often called the French Caribbean.
Where is Saint Martin and Martinique?
Saint Martin and Martinique are both located on the eastern side of the Caribbean Sea, situated in the Lesser Antilles in the Leeward Islands. Thanks to the islands’ location at the eastern edges of the Caribbean Sea they are sandwiched between the greater Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, giving visitors arguably, some of the best views and experiences in the region.
Saint Martin lies at the northern side of the Lesser Antilles, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Caribbean to the west. The island is situated in the northeastern Caribbean, neighboring other Caribbean jewels like St. Barts, St. Kitts, and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla to the north.
The archipelago is also 120 km or 74 miles north of another French territory, Martinique which is considered at the geographical heart of the Antilles. Martinique lies at the eastern side of the Caribbean, right at the geographical center of the Lesser Antilles, along with the Windward Islands, which receives significant trade winds coming from the east.
How Far is Saint Martin from Martinique?
Saint Martin is approximately 438 kilometers or 272 miles northwest of Martinique, directly.
How do you get to Saint Martin from Martinique?
You can only get to Saint Martin from Martinique in one way: by flying. Despite being the only manner of traveling, flying from Martinique to Saint Martin is fast and cheap. You can fly with the regional airlines of Air Antilles, and Air Caraibes, and ticket prices cost around 130 to 220 USD. You will most likely land in Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, the island’s main hub, and travel time usually takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on certain factors.
What makes each Caribbean destination special isn’t just the gorgeous beaches, sweeping views, and a beachfront lined with top-rated hotel chains, but rather a combination of amazing things like culture, history, and natural beauty. And Martinique has all of it.
From its enchanting cities like Fort-de-France, and Saint-Pierre, full of history, and culture, to its outdoor like Route de la Trace and the iconic Mount Pelee, some of the best entries that can show you the island’s natural beauty. Martinique has something to offer to every kind of traveler. Not to mention all of its beaches on both the Caribbean and the Atlantic side.
The Caribbean side has the beaches and coasts of the Grande Anse des Salines, Saint-Anne, Diamant, and Anse Mitan, and the Le Francois, Le Robert, and the Anse Michel. Martinique has a rich diversity of people that descended from the tumultuous past of the colonial era, the Afro-Caribbean, from the freed slaves, the Hindu immigrants from South Asia, the Muslims from Lebanon, up to the modern-day nomadic expats from North American and Europe.
Various people groups that came to the island brought with them their culture, and identity that gradually melted and blended together over the centuries that eventually formed the society and modern culture of the island. Martinique’s French parentage, its influence on society, politics, and economy has further cemented its identity as one of its overseas territories.
Martinique’s culture and society, together with its natural beauty have enticed seasoned travelers from all over, both well-heeled and budget. Just the right blend of everything it has to offer makes it one of the most interesting and underrated places to explore in the Lesser Antilles.
The Charms of Saint Martin
Saint Martin is known for many things, although it shares tons of similarities with other Caribbean islands. Its beaches are divine, people, warm and interesting, and its culture, a thing of great curiosity. What makes it all the more exciting and fascinating is its political and cultural landscape.
Saint Martin isn’t sovereignty, heck, it’s not even one sovereignty, but two. Saint Martin and Sint Maarten share one island, also named Saint Martin, which is in itself probably its biggest draw.
This “bicultural” landscape is the island’s most unique feature. A territory split by two former colonial powers, the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the south, and France to the north isn’t exactly a common thing, in any pa. As both countries are in the EU, getting across either side of the island is a breeze, allowing for more places to explore and more curiosities to quench.
French Saint Martin embodies the famous French “laissez-faire” attitude with its chill, laid-back, and relatively simpler living, valuing relaxation and living. If you prefer divine laid-back beaches, easy-going life, a side of fashion and shopping, top-notch gastronomy, then Saint Martin is for you.
If you stay in French Saint Martin, you can always visit the other side without the hassle of border controls and other formalities. Both are controlled by EU-member states, going both parts are relatively easy, given that you have a visa, of course. This has attracted visitors from different parts of the world. You get to see and experience two different cultures, like hitting two birds with one stone.
Which is better – Saint Martin or Martinique?
Saint Martin and Martinique, two of the best of the French Caribbean, will give anyone wanting to have the best Caribbean experience a hard time to decide which is which. Given their ridiculous natural beauty, and exotic and interesting culture and history, to choose between the two might seem unfair to all the beauty and experience you could possibly miss.
To compare them is to put aside the rest of the French Caribbean much more than the entire stretch of the French Republic. Saint Martin and Martinique are so alike in so many ways, yet so different as well, which makes them both unique and special. Saint Martin’s many beaches, and bicultural landscape, thanks to the south’s Dutch Sint Maarten, you can surely find plenty of things to do, and to explore, other than just beaching, and relaxing the days ahead. Martinique’s draw is in its rich culture, from exquisite food, often called the best in the region, to its music and good music. The island’s version of Carnival isn’t famous for nothing, after all.