12 Reasons We Love Martinique
Sand, sun, surf and unspoiled mountain terrain—there’s a lot to love about Martinique. This is the ultimate “do as you like” Caribbean island, offering a heady mix of action, adventure, wining and dining, and well-deserved relaxation.
Domaine Thieubert, Le Coin, Le Carbet 97221, Martinique
Martinique’s Route Des Rhums is something of the ultimate single island rum tour. The big reason for this being there are 10 different distilleries spread across Martinique’s 425 square miles! TEN! Two of the best are Distillerie Neisson and Plantations Saint James Martinique. All of them produce what’s called rhum agricole, but all you need to know is Martinique rums are the only rums in the world that have been granted the prestigious Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation. Awarded by the French government agency Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) in recognition of the finest agricultural products (wines, cheeses, butters, etc), the AOC designation is an incomparable stamp of excellence in the culinary and spirits world.
What’s old is new again in Saint-Pierre, a city built under majestic Mount Pelée on Martinique’s Caribbean coast. In 1902, Mount Pelée volcano erupted, leveling the city and killing all 30,000 inhabitants– save one lucky prison inmate, whose thick cell walls protected him from the blast. Today, the rebuilt Saint-Pierre honors its fiery past at the Musée Volcanologique, a mini-Pompeii filled with carefully preserved relics. History meets modernity at the southern entrance where seven inspired, contemporary Caribbean artists have created 32 colorful totem sculptures welcoming guests. There are also popular dive sites nearby, where scuba divers can swim alongside century-old wrecks of ships that sunk in the explosion.
Route de Balata, Fort-de-France 97234, Martinique
This botanical wonder is home to thousands of native plant species, including heliconias, hibiscus and bromeliads. Guests enjoy strolling around the three-hectare (seven-acre) grounds, where hundreds of palm trees tower over creeks and tiny hummingbirds flit among the lush foliage. An aerial walkway suspended 15 meters (49 feet) high in the canopy gives visitors views of the Balata Garden, the mountains and Fort-de-France Bay. There’s also a fine old plantation house on the grounds.
Rue Blenac, Fort-de-France, Martinique
A lively produce market takes place in the Grand Marché Couvert, a huge 1880s glass-and-steel building tucked into Fort-de-France’s tight town center. Rows of vendors sell mangoes, pineapples and other tropical fruits, as well as herbs, spices and medicinal elixirs. The pointy, wide-brimmed straw hat called the bakoua makes a great souvenir.
Anse Ceron, Martinique
The coastline around Mt. Pelée is marked by crescents of rich black sand, a stark difference from the white-sand beaches of other parts of the island. These unique and secluded beaches come in varying shades, from light gray at Anse Turin to darker black at Anse Céron. But all offer stunning scenery, with calm, blue waters and verdant volcanic slopes rising up from the coast.