Disclaimer: Petite Martinique isn’t for everyone.
But it just might be for you…That is, if you’re the kind of traveler who appreciates a waaaay off-the-grid experience. One defined by a raw, unassuming landscape and authentic small-island living, which facilitates an almost complete disconnect from the rest of the world.
On PM, as the locals fondly refer to their home, the coastline is a combination of sharp, rocky cliff faces and tiny stretches of white sand beaches. A handful of guest houses are your only accommodation options; restaurants are few and far between; and you will be responsible for your own entertainment a vast majority of the time.
All of which is ideal, providing you are genuinely seeking solitude and simplicity.
Size: 586 acres
Population: Approximately 900
The first leg of the journey to Petite Martinique begins with a flight to the mainland, Grenada. PM does not have an airport so the final leg will definitely involve a boat. However, there are still two options available to you.
- Fly from Grenada to Carriacou via SVG Airlines:
- Departs: Times vary
- Cost: $295 EC
- Duration of Journey: Approximately 45 mins
- Take the Osprey Lines ferry service to Petite Martinique:
- Departs: 11:30 a.m.
- Cost: $20 EC
- Duration of Journey: Approximately 0.5 hrs
- Take the Osprey Lines ferry from Grenada to Carriacou:
- Departs: 9:30 a.m.
- Cost: $80 EC
- Duration of Journey: Approximately 2 hrs
- Take a smaller Osprey Lines ferry to Petite Martinique (Same as above)
I’ve always enjoyed taking the ferry to Carriacou and saw no need to break tradition, so we did the entire journey by sea. The first ferry to Carriacou is large, spacious, and comfortable with seating on both the lower and upper deck. The lower deck is fully enclosed and air-conditioned with upholstered seats and several tables for those who prefer a flat surface to work or eat. The upper deck is a great place to take in the ocean views and catch some sun. There is also a small snack bar that sells popcorn, hotdogs, and beverages. The second boat is far less refined with a wooden interior and uncomfortable seating, but thankfully it’s a much shorter ride. And in the end, it gets the job done.
The accommodation options on PM are limited, to say the least, but I found Millennium Guest House on Grenada’s tourism website and it lived up to all it’s promises. A no-frills establishment for sure, it met my basic requirements – clean and comfortable. I’d also describe it as ‘cute’ in a granny-chic sort of way – wood furnishings, bright paint colors, homely quilts, doilies and no television. All rooms are self contained and there is a small guest kitchen where you’re able to prepare your meals if you so desire.
Each room is air-conditioned and has it’s own bathroom, mini refrigerator, cupboards, draws, and a queen sized bed. The common areas include a living room and a spacious balcony with seating and a great view of the ocean.
Downstairs, you’ll find a small museum that houses several artifacts from days gone by; a well-stocked grocery store that makes shopping for ingredients quite convenient; and a small cafe and bar that occasionally hosts a patron or two.
What to do
There’s one road that runs from north to south on the western side of the island. PMers with a sense of humour will tell you that heading north means you’re taking a stroll into the ‘countryside’ where you’ll have an uninterrupted view of the rocky coastline and Petit St. Vincent; while a jaunt down south means you’re heading into ‘town’, where you’ll pass by green fields of grazing animals and sneak peeks at white sand and blue water beaches.
There are few places left in the world that are completely unspoiled by light pollution. PM is one of them. The sun begins to dip after 5 p.m. and residents retire relatively early. By 8:30 p.m. all lights are off and the stars take over the sky. I’ve come close to inky black skies before but this was by far the best stargazing I’ve ever done.
Visit Petit St. Vincent
One of the beautiful things about staying on an island as small as PM is that everyone knows each other, processes are pretty lax and almost anything is possible through the simplest of conversations. After chatting with the only other tourists at our guest house, we learned that it was possible for us to take a boat out to Petit St. Vincent, free of charge. We asked our host to make the arrangements and just like that we had two spots booked on the 1 pm boat that transports residents of PM to their jobs on Petit St. Vincent. An unfortunate turn of events cut our visit short so we weren’t able to take advantage of the white sand and blue water beaches on this neighboring island, but if you’re there, you certainly should check it out!
Take a self guided cemetery tour
This may sound like an odd and creepy recommendation but, for a small island, Petite Martinique has quite a few cemeteries – six to be exact. Interspersed between homes, these graveyards are so highly regarded they’ve been identified as landmarks on a map featuring the island’s heritage sites. Cemeteries are family owned and very well maintained, with candles and fresh flowers displayed on many graves. While I would never recommend actually venturing into them, it was interesting to note the names and elaborate designs of the headstones and tombs.
Hike to the highest point
The highest point on the island stands at 750 ft above sea level and it offers the most spectacular views of the Grenadines. On an island this petite, all you need to do is start walking south. Follow the road until it becomes a trail, then follow the trail until you come full circle and end right back on the main road at the north of the island.
Watch a boat being built
I wasn’t fortunate enough to be on the island when a boat was being built, but if you are, take in the scene. PM is famous for its seafaring population and their expertise in boat construction. The boats are built right on the beach and everyone is welcome to watch the progress, as well as witness the famous boat launching ceremony.
There is no data on PM. Absolutely none. Internet can only be access via WiFi, which was available at our guest house and at the Palm Beach restaurant. While there’s no choice but to remain unplugged while you’re out an about, challenge yourself to lay off the WiFi while you have a signal as well. Chat. Read a book. Write. Do anything but check your messages or your social media accounts.
Where to eat
Palm Beach Restaurant and Bar
It would be a stretch to categorize Palm Beach as ‘fine dining’, but it is the finest dining establish on the island. A beachfront restaurant on a sprawling piece of property, it has a nice, relaxed vibe and a surprisingly extensive menu. I only sampled their fish but, not surprisingly, it was impeccably prepared. As for my meal, every single item on my very full plate was delicious – fried plantains, breadfruit chips, macaroni pie, baked potatoes and barbequed chicken…YUM!
If you’re craving a burger and fries, pizza or wings, Eclipse is the place to go. On our first day, the restaurant was closed as the proprietors were in Carriacou, but on day two we were able to grab lunch to-go. It’s small, neat and clean, with seating available but it’s not big on ambiance so we opted to dine on the guest house balcony. The wings were well seasoned and crisp, and the fries were the perfect golden brown – all-around another delicious meal.
With both restaurants there was a bit of a wait but that’s the beauty of eating at restaurants where meals are cooked to order!
I will say it again: Petite Martinique is not for everyone. It is, however, perfect for the simple traveler who’s curious about experiencing a very quiet way of life. So, if your travel objective is to escape the hustle and fuss of more populated areas, book a trip to PM. You won’t be disappointed!