I can always find more than a few good reasons to head to Martinique, especially in the summertime. As elsewhere across the Caribbean, crowds get lower in Martinique as the temps edge higher, making the experience at my favorite attractions, beach bars, restaurants, and hotels a bit less hectic.
Also, as elsewhere in the islands, Martinique tends to host a few more festivals in the summer months. Whereas other destinations tend to import international musicians, writers, and chefs to attract international audiences to their respective music, literary, and culinary festivals, though, Martinique’s events tend to skew more toward the home-grown, the traditional, the authentically Martinican.
One such truly uncommon event takes place on the dark, volcanic sands of Sainte-Marie in August. Here, the whole town comes to the shore to enjoy horse racing thrills along the sea.
I happened upon the event quite by accident three summers ago while heading south after enjoying a day of adventuring near Mt. Pelée. The traffic was so snarled we just had to stop to see what was going on.
From a bluff at the northern edge of the town, we could just barely make out the riders as they raced from the assembled crowd to a flag planted firmly in the sand, turning there and heading back.
We were quite a ways away, but the cheering of the crowd was plainly audible above the wind and crashing surf. If only we had more time, or had known before of the event, I likely would’ve stuck around here all day.
Later on I learned that the races are held every August 15th as part of a festival to commemorate the town itself.
Hmmm, mid-August in Martinique… Sounds good to me!
If you’ve ever attended the Sainte-Marie horse racing and have some tips on how best we might enjoy it, please leave a comment below or write to us here.