Uncommon Attraction: Mysterious Holes Above Anse Turin, Martinique
Follow the seaside road that runs south from the historic town of Saint-Pierre on Martinique’s northern Caribbean coast and you’ll soon encounter a narrow stretch of beach known as Anse Turin. Beautifully dark volcanic sands run right up to the road. A thin line of trees offer a modicum of shade. The water, an unreal amalgam of blues.
Looking out on the water here, it’s so peaceful that you barely notice the cars whizzing by just a few paces away. Less easy to miss: the mysterious holes behind you…
You can see ’em in the photo running along the face of the rock wall above the coastal road and the beach. Dozens of holes of varying sizes can be found here, some forming clusters that give sections of the wall a distinctly Swiss cheese character.
During my earliest visits to Martinique I often wondered what sort of strangely mutated and supremely powerful bird or exotic animal could’ve carved out these rock homes. A woodpecker with a metal beak? Huge land crabs with steel claws?
As it turns out, these mysterious holes were caused by something much less strange and mutated, though certainly powerful in its time: The British Royal Navy.
Look back in the annals of the various wars between France and Great Britain and you’ll find that there are several different skirmishes carrying the title “Battle of Martinique.” All were fought between 1759 and 1809, a 50-year stretch during which the two European powers clashed in the Caribbean as part of at least four different wars – The Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
These were contentious times, to be sure, with Martinique and her famed capital city of the age, Saint-Pierre, a top strategic prize. Repeated British attempts at taking the city resulted in the mysterious holes at Anse Turin. They were caused by the scores of British cannon balls fired upon the area, most of them likely dating to a failed invasion attempt in 1759 during the Seven Years War.
For history buffs exploring the ruins up the road in Saint-Pierre stemming from the famous eruption of Mt. Pelée in 1902, a stop at Anse Turin to check out these mysterious holes only adds to the historic allure here. And as a bonus, you get to refresh yourself in the cool, calm waters of one of Martinique’s nicest beaches…