Insider’s Guide to Martinique

Starting Point: Get the Lay of the Land

Martinique -
Martinique

Pointe du Bout

This community comprises Martinique’s chief resort area, occupying the southern shore of Baie de Fort-de-France.

Fort-de-France

Martinique’s capital features a gorgeous cathedral, three forts, unparalleled shopping, formal gardens and nearly a hundred restaurants, from Creole to Thai. Don’t miss: Schoelcher Library for its architecture, shopping on Rue Victor Hugo.

The North

Here are the emerald sky-reaching slopes of Mount Pelée volcano and mountain streams meandering through pristine stretches of rainforest.

The South

Some of the island’s most beautiful scenery – from ocean views of sapphire seas to undulating meadows where sugar cane sashays in the breeze.

STAY  Here, the spots we’re excited about

Hotel La Pagerie

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Given its proximity to bistros, shops, three great beaches and a stone’s throw to  Fort-de-France (via scenic ferry ride), Hotel La Pagerie is a natural. Casually elegant, the property offers an open-air lobby with an airy bar situated to one side, a poolside restaurant and gorgeous gardens surrounding a freeform pool flanked by courtyard inner-facing rooms. Serene greens and calming blues dominate the colour scheme. hotel-lapagerie.com/en/

Hotel Bakoua

Hotel-Bakoua-Aerial-001

With its own beach (and a fabulous beach bar on stilts right in the water) this hotel offers rooms with private balconies and sea views with Creole-influenced architecture and furnishings, strategically located at Pointe du Bout. hotel-bakoua.fr/en

Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort and Spa

Cap-Est-Lagoon-Resort-Spa2

Decidedly upscale and located on the windward side, this resort is both secluded and elegant. Creole-meets-Asia in suites, some with private pools, are decorated with natural fabrics and exotic woods. Tired of fun in the sun? Book a spa treatment. capest.com

Club Med Buccaneer’s Creek

Club Med - DSC_4830 - David Giral

Brought to you by the people who invented all-inclusive, this property located near one of Martinique’s best beaches takes all the worry – and thinking – out of your getaway. Located in a prime scuba destination, the resort has whimsically painted rooms and suites surrounded by lush gardens, snug in the shelter of emerald mountains. clubmed.ca

EAT  The Island’s hottest tables

le Petibonum1 food

Le Pitaya

Located right beside the pool at La Pagerie, Le Pitaya, like the hotel itself, combines casual and elegant. From simple offerings like grilled sirloin (both beef and potatoes perfectly prepared) to mains like Asian-infused rack of lamb, this is the perfect location – since you’re staying here anyway – for “dining in.” Rated one of Point du Bout’s top restaurants.

Bistro d’en Face

Great spot for an evening cocktail or a casual lunch or dinner. A well-stocked deli at the rear offers delicacies you’d expect to find in Paris, the surroundings (including a stainless steel bar imported from France) scream savoire-faire. One more selling point? Best rum list on Martinique.

Le Petibonum

le Petibonum Lobster

Hosted by a quirky chef, this beachside eatery is casual but still downright haute cuisine. Creole-inspired, its appetizers are as appealing as its mains, though you can still get a burger. Biggest selling point? One of the nicer beaches on the island, a mere 20 metres from the surf.

Ti Payot, les Anses d’Arlet

Must-do if you’re hitting the beaches in the south. Think beach hut – brightly painted trim, thatched roof, rudimentary tables. Menu casual and limited but the ambience is worth it – hilly surroundings and yachts swinging gently at anchor.

Rhum-DSC_0459 - David GiralDrink this: Rhum Agricole

They use local sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses, resulting in a unique flavour they take seriously. Martinique even has a system – AOC Martinique Rhum Agricole – a sort of rum VQA. But don’t worry, there’s always enough to go around. Ten distilleries on Martinique, and a multitude of rum-tasting tours.

SEE AND DO Three places worth the detour

Kayak Nature Evasion

Martinique -
Martinique –

Get back to nature with a bit of exercise; take a break from sun, sand and shopping. Kayak across limpid sky-blue waters with great views of Fort de France in the distance, stands of mangrove dead ahead. Sign up for a quick introduction, book a full day kayak adventure or even bond with the birds during a nocturnal excursion.

Domaine Emeraude

A regional National Park area, this estate boasts breath-taking views of Mt. Pelée, formal gardens surrounding an excellent interpretive centre and nearly 4 km of trails through rainforest that offer insights into local flora and fauna.

Depaz Distillery

Distillerie Depaz-DSC_0200 - David Giral

There are rum tours in the Caribbean and there are rum tours! This one is a must-do for three reasons. First, the views are spectacular – vistas of both sea and mountains. Second, it’s self-guided so you can go at your own speed. Finally, rhum agricole is unique to the French Caribbean islands (think hard to get) and you get to taste some at the end of your tour.

SHOP

La Galleria

Though Rue Victor Hugo is the chief shopping destination in Fort-de-France (a must-do for fashion and art), Galleria Mall is one of the biggest malls in the Caribbean, with 140 shops and boutiques. Catch up on Paris fashion, accessorize, titillate the senses with that perfect perfume, then do lunch.

Pointe du Bout

Located in one of the more popular resort areas, shops along rue ChaCha include men’s and women’s fashion. Nearby Village Creole – replete with pastel-painted gingerbread trim and wrought-iron balconies – has restaurants, more than 20 different shops (mostly clothing and accessories) and live entertainment nightly.

Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens

“The culture, the people, the beaches and the rhum agricole is what makes Martinique a very surreal place,” says this Caribbean specialist, multiple award-winning writer. Mark is currently finishing up a story on snowmobiling in the Yukon and is a finalist in the Ontario Tourism Travel Writing Awards for an article about spending a frigid February in Algonquin Park.

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