Health and Safety in Martinique

A note about health and safety in Martinique

With all international travel it is in your best interest to be respectful to the local culture. You are a guest in their country and as long as you act as such you will thoroughly enjoy your experience. Try using guide books in French rather than English, study maps before you go out rather than stopping in the middle of the street to get your bearings, try speaking every opportunity you have. When in public places, don’t be that “ugly American” and try to keep your voice at a lower level. Observe those around you, try to emulate the behavior you see.

Should political/social demonstrations occur in your area, please remember that you are foreigners, and thus have no inherent right to participate, even if you sympathize. It has been known for foreigners to be deported for taking an active part in such demonstrations; it has also been known for students who have found themselves caught up in unrest to find it a more traumatic experience than they expected; what starts off as a peaceful, good-natured assembly can turn nasty in a matter of seconds, and restraint is an alien concept to the French riot police (CRS). Above all, be normally sensible, just as one could expect you to be in your country. Every now and again one meets students abroad who seem to have forgotten the everyday commonsense care of self and property which is expected at home.

Traveling alone at night is not recommended. Women are likely to encounter more unwanted approaches from men than they are used to.

You might encounter aggressive begging. It will vary in character from the traditional beggar in the church porch to the apparently disabled individual who will distribute badges (pins) in a café and invite you to buy them. A straightforward stony-faced “non” will almost always stop you being bothered; do not engage in conversation.

In Martinique and Guadeloupe, you run a risk of being robbed in some isolated places or on some beaches. Students have sometimes found that they can defuse a situation by speaking French or even Créole if they’ve picked it up. But do not put yourself at risk, do not “have a go”; belongings can be replaced, you cannot.”


Remember, you’re on an island!

Not just any island, you’re in the Caribbean! With tropical weather and location comes health and safety risks we might not regularly watch out for: 1) sun, 2) mosquitos and 3) Manchineel trees -yes, a dangerous tree and 4) sea creatures and sea-related activities – also, 5) Watch the weather!

1) How do I protect myself from the sun?

2) How do I protect myself from mosquito bites?

Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy. They can make you really sick. Chikungunya, Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus are all contractable via mosquito bite. Protect yourself when traveling overseas. Wearing insect repellent is the best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes. Here are more tips from the CDC:

  1. Wear insect repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer lasting protection.
    • DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel  contains OLE.
    • IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
  1. Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  2. Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.

We don’t make this stuff up, it comes to you straight from the CDC’s website – just take a look! There’s even more helpful information on their website!

3) A tree? YES! A tree. The Manchineel Tree is one of the world’s deadliest.

Why might this tree be Earth’s most deadliest? We’ll let experts tell you, and Meri will reiterate all of this and more onsite!


4) What do you mean, sea creatures?

Well, sea urchins for starters – and jelly fish! You’re encouraged to enjoy the ocean – just be cautious when snorkeling or jumping in – especially around rocky areas. Students have been known to step foot on a sea urchin (they can also wash up on the beach and if you’re not looking…ouch!) Stinging jellyfish is also a possibility of encountering, most specifically the Portuguese Man of War.

With that said, as inviting as the ocean appears to be there are some areas or times of day you should avoid venturing in too far. There are other bodies of water you should avoid all together – like fresh water sources. For more information on water safety and other health and safety related suggestions visit the CDC’s Health Information page for Travelers to Martinique. It is your responsibility to be aware of the dangers you could encounter while traveling.

5) Watch the weather!

You’ll be in Martinique during the beginning of hurricane season. With that said, check the weather reports regularly. While you might not experience a full-blown hurricane, you might get to experience a tropical storm and you should be aware of what to do/where to take cover.


Finally, Martinique does experience earthquakes (check out where the earth’s fault lines lie) so please also make note of this earthquake safety action guide: