Martinique’s accommodations run the gamut. At the high end are four star hotels of international standing, such as Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa, part of the Relais & Châteaux global fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Club Med Buccaneer’s Creek all-inclusive family vacation village is one of the best-known Martinique resorts, but there are also small boutique hotels, tourist apartments, rural cottages, country inns, and furnished lodgings. A good place to start is on Martinique’s official tourism site.
(Note: Many websites for hotels, restaurants and sights are in French; some have an option to change the content to English, but others do not.)
Beaches, watersports, snorkeling, scuba diving, golf, dining, botanical gardens, shopping, hiking and touring the ruins of Mt. Pelee.
White sand beaches, best for swimming and watersports are on the south side of the island, while black sand volcanic beaches with rough surf are located in the mountainous north.
Food and Drink
Martinique has been recognized as a gourmet dining destination for many years. Its cuisine mixes elements of African, French, Carib Amerindian and South Asian traditions. The island was named best gourmet island of the year (2008, Caribbean World) and favorite Caribbean dining destination (2009, Caribbean Travel & Life). Check out Trip Advisor for reviews of Martinique dining choices.
Rum distilleries can be found throughout Martinique, which bills itself as the Rum Capital of the World, and all welcome visitors for tastings. Follow La Route des Rhums to seek out rums awarded the prestigious French label “appellation d’origine contrôlée,” previously reserved only for French cheeses and wines.
Direct flights to Fort de France (FDF) are available from many U.S. cities on American Airlines, jetBlue, LIAT, US Airways, Air Canada and Air France.
Martinique is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea in the Windward Islands of the West Indies. The island is situated between Dominica and St Lucia and is considered to be an overseas region of France. It is popularly known as “a little bit of France in the Caribbean.”
As an overseas department of France, its vibe is a delightful blend of French and Caribbean influences. Although I found everyone with whom I interacted to be helpful and hospitable, it would be helpful to have a basic knowledge of French when visiting Martinique.
I was only able to spend the better part of a day in Martinique, while in port from a Star Clippers Windward Islands cruise. I am anxious to return for a longer stay. Here were the highlights of my time on the island:
Stop by the fish market near the River Madam, where fisherman sell their daily catch, then stroll through the nearby market where vendors display spices, fruits, vegetables and handicrafts.
Chocolate lovers will not want to miss a visit to Freres Lauzea Chocolatier, where creative candy varieties in more than 30 flavors are combined with top-quality chocolate, then stamped with designs made from colored cocoa butter.
Located in the outskirts of Fort-de-France, Balata Botanical Gardens showcases 3000 varieties of tropical plants and flowers, including 300 types of palm trees. Fifty-foot-high suspended wooden bridges stretch over the treetops for breathtaking views of the gardens.
On the way to the botanical gardens, the lovely Balata Church, a one-fifth replica of Paris’ Sacred Heart Basilica, is worthy of a brief stop.
Mt. Pelee/St. Pierre ruins – While I missed touring the St. Pierre area devastated by Mt. Pelee’s 1902 eruption, I put this on the “don’t miss” list because I will make it a must-do when I return to Martinique for a longer stay.
FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique — Delights for both the eyes and palate awaited us as we met our driver and guide for our day in Martinique. My friend and I were the latest “celebrities” in his charge, or at least we convinced ourselves it was so, as we stepped into his Mercedes taxi. The previous week, his VIP visitor was Ségolène Royal, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s female opponent in the 2007 election. In the late ’90s, he squired Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo during filming of The Thomas Crown Affair…
Read the rest of the article on Martinique, published in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, by downloading a PDF of the article. (Scroll to bottom of page to locate it, secondary to the main article on my Star Clippers Windward Islands cruise.): RoyalClipper-MartiniqueArticles