The largest of the Windward Islands, Martinique is a pleasure to explore by yacht, thanks to its steady trade winds. Mount Pelée towers over the northern part of the island, its densely forested ridges flowing down into seaside villages and black sand beaches. The south is dominated by smoothly rolling hills and vibrant agricultural fields. Drop anchor and visit some of the most picturesque spots in the Caribbean.
Hop between these picture-postcard towns in style by hiring a yacht.
Although it’s the capital of Martinique and the business centre of the island, Fort-de-France still has much to offer in the way of beauty. Colorful stout buildings capped with clay-red fish scale roofs line the busy streets, the skyline broken only by the latticed spire of St. Louis Cathedral. Bright floral murals seem to materialise from behind the crowds; take a stroll along the canal to appreciate the street art away from the hoards.
Sainte Anne sits at the south end of a long stretch of white sand beach. The white facades of its single-storey buildings strike a contrast against the emerald hills behind. The beach is popular, providing a quintessential Caribbean backdrop to this small seaside town. Take the wall-lined path behind the church, zig-zagging your way up the hillside to soak in the views overlooking the town and turquoise anchorage below.
Les Anses d’Arlet
The dock reaches seaward from the foot of a picturesque church, its red steeple matching the old clay roofs cascading up the eastern hillside. Meander along the waterfront walkway admiring the cafes and shops, or snorkel off the rocks at the end of the dock. Look out for green turtles as you dodge tropical fish and soft corals.
One of the oldest towns on Martinique, Case-Pilote is an unpretentious fishing village and home to the island’s oldest church – it’s totally unspoiled by overdevelopment. You’ll smell hot accras (salt cod fritters) wafting from a food truck near the small black sand beach that fringes the shore. This is a good place for a local créole meal; many ingredients are freshly picked from backyard gardens where chickens roam free.
Named for the three little green islands emerging from the shallow bay, Trois-Îlets sits nestled between a large golf course and a thick mangrove lagoon where herons and kingfishers sit patiently awaiting their unsuspecting catch. There is much to do here; wander through the daily market, enjoy an artisan pastry in the square, visit the original home of Empress Joséphine (Napoléon Bonaparte’s first wife), or kayak into the mangroves.
Mount Pelée rises from behind Saint-Pierre like a sleeping green giant. Still active, this is the site of the volcanic eruption that killed all but two of the 30,000 residents of Saint-Pierre in 1902. As you walk through town, you can still spot remnants of the ruined buildings, many of which have been used as foundations for the new; a fitting metaphor for this precariously placed town.
With wide sandy beaches tucked between stout peninsulas, it’s hard to tell that this town of two rivers used to be an important port for ships of a bygone era. Now a university town, the city centre is flanked by tidy residential areas and lively student housing. Sip a cocktail and enjoy the bay from a beach chair, or take a stroll through the lush waterfront park.
Anse Noire and Anse Dufour
These twin bays, one black sand and the other white sand, sit recessed between a rocky headland. With only a few buildings each, these simple small towns are a tranquil escape from the busier ports. Watch birds dart between bright patches of bougainvillea as snorkellers explore the seabed looking for green sea turtles. The snorkelling around the point between the bays is excellent, and be sure to check out the grotto on the southern side.
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