The "Flower Island", a sumptuous French overseas department in the heart of the Caribbean, often evokes a paradise of nature, greenery and tranquility. It amply deserves this reputation, with its luxuriance, its beaches, its seabed, its sweet fruits, its rum and its hedonistic rhythm. Martinique hasn't finished giving its visitors its real batch of postcard images. And the high season is about to open for the end of the year festivities
The green "flower island" has two sea fronts. To juggle between the two and make the most of the island's splendours, the easiest way to get around is by car. To the east, towards the stormy Atlantic Ocean, while to the west, the quietest Caribbean Sea is the mythical backdrop of our imagination. Turquoise sea, magnificent seabed, sandy beaches, coconut palms, creeks and mountains plunging into the waves: these images are very real! You will find them on the south coast of the Caribbean Sea, between Sainte-Anne and Grande Anse. Especially in Sainte-Luce: it is surrounded by beautiful beaches and the sun is (almost) guaranteed. The five beaches to the west of the town of Sainte-Luce, in the direction of Trois-Rivières, are each more beautiful than the next. It will be time to leave your vehicle for a while, as they are linked by a hiking trail and offer an enchanting setting. Gros-Raisin has several restaurants serving delicious Creole cuisine, on terraces on the beach. From there, you can reach the deserted cove by walking 4 km. Pont-Café has a nautical base. Corps de Garde is the largest beach in Sainte-Luce, while Le Marin has a remarkable traditional architecture. Installed under a straw hut by the sea or in a hammock under coconut palms, what could be more pleasant than enjoying a barbecue in front of the setting sun?
Finally, we drive back to Sainte-Anne, less intimate than Sainte-Luce, but with the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is the tourist capital of Martinique and a gigantic organized idleness! The beach of Les Salines is perhaps the best known of the island. The zouk evenings, with disco on the beach, merguez in profusion and its other pleasures are another agitated and festive version of Martinique's hedonism!
Sport or idleness, it's time to choose
If for you this sea is too calm, we will just have to change coast and head towards the Atlantic beaches. They will be the opportunity to try different water sports: they are full of clubs that offer rental formulas by the hour, half-day or day. For those who would like to quietly enjoy the Atlantic Ocean, sailing, kayaking or Hobbie Cat are waiting for you all along the coast. The most daring will indulge without restraint in water skiing, surfing on Tatane for beginners or Grand Rivière for the more experienced as well as kitesurfing. This mix of surfing and kite flying is very fashionable on the Flower Island which benefits from optimal weather conditions, thanks to the trade winds that blow from December to August, especially at Cap-Chevalier and François
Diving in the underwater museum
With its wonderful underwater world, Martinique is an ideal destination for diving in all its forms. The highlight of the show: dozens of European ships, through stories of wars, piracy and trafficking, have found their graves in its depths. Moray eels, lobsters and barracudas populate its interiors. Diving with this small world will certainly be an unforgettable experience
The Anses-d'Arlet is a privileged place to discover turtles and the emblematic barracuda which can measure up to two metres. In a different genre, the Diamond Rock, on the south coast of the Caribbean, offers a magnificent spectacle. It is not by chance that it is the most famous dive site on the island: the fault that pierces the rock allows you to enter a world where a fascinating light reigns. In the same bay, the Fer-à-Cheval is one of the best places to discover the coral plateau. It has an underwater cave where lobsters and a ribbon of tropical fishes nest.
To finish declining the blue leisure offered by the beautiful West Indies, we must recommend a real sea trip, by boat. The Pointe-du-Bout, in the bay of Fort-de-France, is one of the main departure points for a sea excursion
The formula is the same just about everywhere: you sail for the day along the coves of the coast, often enjoying a delicious Creole meal on the Grande Anse side, before returning to Pointe-du-Bout after a snorkeling break. A day that gives a beautiful view of the island from the sea. If you have the sea legs, you can also rent your own sailboat and take a longer cruise through the Caribbean, towards the island of St. Lucia or further to the Grenadines. Finally, another way to discover the Caribbean Sea is to take a glass-bottomed boat. This way, you can see all the underwater depths from above, without the need to dive!
Martinique in the green
However, Martinique is not only open to seafarers. With four major mountains, the highest of which is Mount Pelée, with a generous rugged relief, lush vegetation and splendid panoramas, the island lends itself well to hiking. With marked trails (130 km in all), quality guides and appropriate infrastructure, hiking is all the more suitable as many places are only accessible on foot. Hiking is therefore also a way to discover the island in depth.
The North-West is the most favourable region for hiking. Mountainous, rugged, wet and lush, it is rich in peaks, gorges, rivers and waterfalls. Its tropical trees filter the light, begonias cover the ground, markers line the paths with their ribboned leaves. The most famous hikes are the ascent of Mount Pelée, from Le Prêcheur, or that of Morne Larcher, from Le Diamant; the tropical landscapes are breathtaking. The "mornes", anything but dull, are the steep volcanic mountains of the interior of the country. You will often come across majestic waterfalls, in the middle of the tropical forest, surrounded by exuberant flora and fauna. Another fascinating route, but one that requires a certain physical endurance, is the one that links Le Prêcheur to Grand-Rivière
In the land of rum
Once the natural wonders of the island have been explored, the next step is to look at its other hedonism, a human production that makes the four corners of the earth dream! Sweet and tasty, Martinique's rum is a key element of its economy, one of the reasons for its current demography, as slaves were brought from Africa to work on the sugar cane plantations that produce it. Slavery has been abolished, but the sugar economy continues to function, and it would be difficult to return from a stay in Martinique without having tasted its nectar! In addition, there are some exciting tours to be enjoyed. Near Fort-de-France, you can park at the La Favorite distillery, which dates back to the 19th century. In the north-west of the island, the distilleries of Depaz and Neisson, as well as their plantations, should be visited. In the south-west, it is in Rivière-Pilote that you can taste the delicious rum of the La Mauny distillery. The highlight of a rum-themed tour will undoubtedly be Sainte-Marie, in the northeast, which has the most famous rum distillery in the French West Indies, Saint-James, where you can discover the history of straw rum. A great way to end a stay under the sign of relaxation, sunshine and nature
When? Throughout the year, the island enjoys a mild and pleasant climate: 26°C on average, 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. From December to April is the high tourist season; the cheaper off-peak season is from May to November
Getting there. Count 8 hours of flight and an average price of 700 € per round trip
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