Known as the Island of Flowers, Martinique woos visitors with classic Caribbean beauty. At its heart, the active volcano Mount Pelée stretches skyward behind the former capital of St Pierre. The best way to explore here is by boat – hop along the coastline where you can visit the birthplace of Joséphine Bonaparte and swim with sea turtles – if you’re lucky.
Sail around the sights of Martinique aboard a vessel hired with SamBoat.
The small port town of St Pierre is well worth a visit. Zoo de Martinique in Habitation Latouche, just outside St Pierre, is built amongst the ruins of a 1950s estate destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902. A wooden boardwalk meanders through this small zoo and botanical gardens, taking you through walk-in aviaries, filled with pink flamingos and colourful lorikeets that like to get up close and personal.
Next, head south to Fort-de-France Bay where you’ll find the village of Les Trois-Îlets. Empress Joséphine, the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, grew up on a large estate here. Visit her 18th-century birthplace, now called Musée La Pagerie. Whilst the museum text is all in French, many of the guides speak English.
Finally, don’t leave without visiting the most southerly town, Sainte-Anne. Pick up lunch from Snack Boubou, where the bokits (a type of bun stuffed with various fillings) are said to be the best on the island. Take the easy, two-hour coastline trail to Anse des Salines, one of the most spectacular beaches on the islands. There are smaller, more secluded sandy coves along the way for those looking for a quieter place to enjoy lunch.
Marin is the yachting center of Martinique, with an abundance of convenient yacht services, shopping, and restaurants connected by a waterfront walkway. Marina Marin is huge, with 830 berths and 100 moorings in the bay that can accommodate small monohulls to the largest megayachts. Contact them on VHF: 09 or call +596-596-74-83-83.
More adventurous travellers should check out Anse Noire and Anse Dufour anchorages. Snorkeling with turtles and exploring crevices along the peninsula are a delight. However, if you really want to get away from it all, anchor in the remote Baie Des Anglais. There are no services here, and you may be the only ones there to enjoy the shallow bay and mangrove-backed, white-sand beaches.
La Traditionnelle in Anse Mitan, with its bright traditional tartan tablecloths and casual seating, is tucked behind a white picket gate; it serves up hot accras (salt cod fritters) and other local favourites for lunch daily. For something a little sweeter, go down the road to Le Petite Crêperie on the waterfront for decadent, chocolate-drizzled crêpes and ice cream, or a savoury ham and cheese.
L’Escale in Anse d’Arlet sits at the bottom of a steep staircase a few minutes’ walk from the beach. Artistically-plated dishes of excellent French Caribbean cuisine are served nightly, as well as for lunch on weekends. Book ahead.
Whether you’re looking for a catamaran in Marin or a powerboat in Les Trois-Îlets, SamBoat has hundreds of charter boats to choose between. Novice sailors can opt for a skippered boat, while there are plenty of bareboat options for more experienced folk. You can also explore from an Aqualodge floating villa when you charter a yacht with Dream Yacht Charter.
Marin has the largest selection and most conveniently-located grocery stores. With its own dinghy dock, Leader Price is the most accessible, but the Carrefour in the nearby Centre Commercial Annette has a wider selection of items. No matter where you decide to shop, remember to bring your own shopping bags.
Traditionally, the Round Martinique Regatta is held in February over a three-day long weekend. A lively regatta village is set up and hosts a range of activities, including nightly entertainment, children’s activities, and prize-giving events. The Schoelcher International Sailing Week, usually held in March, is a dinghy regatta hosted by the community of Schoelcher. Children and adults alike gather to race a variety of dinghies, from Lasers and Optimists to foiling windsurfers.
Temperatures in Martinique range from 21C (70F) to 32C (90F), peaking in June. The best time to visit is between December and April, when seas are calm and there is little rain. Hurricane season is June to November, peaking in September, when tropical storms are common. Water temperatures remain a steady 26C (80F) to 29C (84F) throughout the year.
Martinique has one major international airport, the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, located just south of Fort de France. Inter-Caribbean, as well as direct flights to the US, Canada and Europe, are available from a number of major airlines. The ferry company L’Express-des-Îles connects Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, Dominica, Martinique, and St Lucia.
Spend as long as you like discovering Martinique when you charter a yacht with Dream Yacht Charter.