Martinique, the Island of Flowers, is acclaimed for its warm people, its geography of 425 square miles of verdant lush mountainous landscapes, rolling hills, pristine waters with unspoiled beaches and coves crowned by the towering Mont Pelée volcano. Between exploring the island’s rich heritage, its contemporary art, and shopping scenes, enjoying rum tasting, hiking the rain forest and beach hopping, Martinique is truly “magnifique”.
Martinique is located in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. In 1502, when Christopher Columbus landed on Martinique, it was inhabited by the native peoples who called the island Madinina, ‘Island of Flowers.’ Three decades passed before the first party of French settlers landed on the northwest side of the island. There, they built a small fort and established a settlement that would become the capital city, St Pierre.
On May 8, 1902, in the most devastating natural disaster in Caribbean history, the Mont Pelée volcano erupted violently, destroying the city of St Pierre and claiming the lives of its 30, 000 inhabitants. Shortly thereafter, the capital was moved permanently to Fort de France. St Pierre, which had been regarded as the most cultured city in the French West Indies, was eventually rebuilt, but it has never been more than a shadow of its former self.
Martinique is a must for beach lovers. The water is clear and blue, which is ideal for snorkeling. There is a huge variety of fish, caves, coral, and turtles.You can’t really go wrong with any of the beaches on the Caribbean Sea Side of the island, as the waters are all very calm. On the Atlantic side of the island, the water is rough and caution is advised.
Plage les Salines
If you’re looking for coconut trees leaning over the water, white sands and turquoise waters, then Plage des Salines is for you. It is found on the southern tip of the island, hugely popular for its long stretches of coral sands. At sunset, when the shore is bathed in golden light and the Rocher du Diamant draws the eye to the horizon, its beauty is enthralling.
Visit the Saint Pierre
Located on the north end of the island, Saint Pierre sits at the foot of Mount Pelée and was once the capital of Martinique. It was known as the Paris of the Caribbean, where those with money and influence would visit and spend their winters. In 1902, it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelée and all but one person perished. Walk around the town, see the ruins, watch the fishermen and visit the shops. It’s still a lovely town.
For Rum Lovers
Martinique stands alone in the world of authentic rum production – The Rum Capital of the World, Martinique is home to 12 brands, each produced utilizing a unique rum method yielding blends comparable to fine cognacs. The rums of Martinique follow their own unique processes, methods and time-proven traditions evolved over centuries of rum production. Awarded worldwide, it is a part of your culinary experiences not to be missed during your stay in Martinique. White, Amber or Old, you will succumb to its robes and colors both visually and with your taste buds. The distilleries where the precious nectar is produced are open all year round for visits, during which you can, among other things, taste and buy your favorite(s). Martinique rums are the only rums to carry the exalted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation formerly reserved for the finest wines. Free tasting is available at all of the island’s distilleries.