Le Diamant Beach, Martinique

Le Diamant Beach, Martiniquea guest post by author Laura Albritton

“Martinique.” Even this island’s name sounds sexy on the lips – the long drawn out ahhhh, followed by that final, clipped French eeeque. It’s not a place many English-speakers journey to, so maybe it was fate that prodded me to rent a cottage on the southern side of the island in Le Diamant, beside one of the most intoxicating stretches of waterfront I’ve ever experienced. 

A view of Le Diamant Beach with the “Sleeping woman” hills in the background

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

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Le Diamant Beach looking to the east

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

A little background: As you might guess, “diamant” means diamond in English, and the 2 ½ mile expanse of beach overlooks le Rocher du Diamant, a.k.a. Diamond Rock, with a swashbuckling history. You see, back in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, the English decided that this tiny volcanic island held the key to wresting Martinique away from the French. In a move right out of Monty Python, the British dubbed the rock a Royal Naval vessel, the H.M.S. Diamond Rock, and positioned cannon and some 107 soldiers to defend this inhospitable, stony key.

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A view of Diamond Rock from the beach

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

As I gazed at the steep face of le Rocher du Diamant, I wondered how in the world anyone could survive a single night out there….much less 17 months, which is how long the British lasted before surrender.

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Le Rocher du Diamant, or Diamond Rock, which the British claimed as a naval war ship

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

These days you can take a dive boat out to explore the incredible sea life that clusters at its base. Or just remain onshore, amid swaths of sand where coconut palms bend low over the Caribbean. Sometimes you sit and see no one, like you’re on a desert island. The surf grows rambunctious in places, tumbling to shore in a dramatic rush of azure and aqua. Perfect for body surfing.

If you come to watch the spectacular sunrise, you may later need a little sustenance. Just across the road, the village’s Boulangerie du Rocher bakes authentic French croissants, with a hundred flaky layers of buttery goodness. A breakfast of chocolate croissants as you’re lounging in the sand? Yes, please!

Around cocktail hour – to indulge in a little rum therapy — head over to New Cap Bar and Restaurant. Sip a ‘Ti Punch as the sun sets over this hypnotic scenery: the Caribbean ocean punctuated by Diamond Rock, glowing in the half light like a brilliant, faceted gem. As they say in French, “La vie est bon.”

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Looking out on Diamond Beach from New Cap restaurant and bar

 

Laura writes about travel, books, and art for publications like The Miami Herald, Sculpture magazine, Harvard Review, The Florida Keys Weekly, and UncommonCaribbean.com. Check out her new guidebook Miami for Families on her website.