Located in the lesser Antilles, surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean sea, Martinique is part of the Windward islands and, along with Guadeloupe, one of two overseas regions of France. The mix of French and Caribbean culture creates a wonderful Caribbean holiday in which you can enjoy the best of both worlds: the warm weather, pristine beaches, and colourful attitude of the Caribbean, as well as the refined nature of France.
The 425 square miles island is home to the still-active volcano Mt. Pelée and is characterized by rugged mountains, rivers, waterfalls, beautiful bays and coves, rolling hills, and forests. Its closest neighbours are Dominica (16 miles to the North), Guadeloupe (75 miles to the North), and St Lucia (23 miles to the South).
The people here are known to have a higher standard of living than many other Caribbean nations- evident through its higher GDP. French products are widely available on the island and it’s not uncommon for students to study in Paris for a year or two. There is no other island in the Caribbean which is more like France, yet the islanders take care to appreciate and stay true to their Creole roots and, although the official language is French, Creole is widely spoken.
But Martinique's heritage is also rich with Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, Indians, Levantines and Asians roots, a cultural mixing that this multi-ethnic population is proud of and shares through its traditions of all things creative including gastronomy, music, dance, crafts, literature, and poetry, which are all cultivated in the island's lifestyle.
The mild, steady temperature and cooling trade winds help make Martinique's weather one of the main reasons to visit the island of the "never-ending summer". Average temperatures range from 23-30 °C year-round, and it’s unusual to see any rain. These tropical climate conditions bless Martinique with a healthy flora composed of beautiful trees, fruits, plants and flowers, groves, savannas and mangrove forests. This abounding vegetation is also home to the island's fauna, counting “mabouyas” and “anolis” lizards, iguanas, birds, fish, shellfish, and the endemic trigonocephalus snake, controlled by the introduction of mongoose on the island.
Because of the mild weather Martinique is the perfect Caribbean holiday destination for those who love the outdoors- and there is plenty to see and do here- eco-tourism is also on the rise. There are plenty of ways to experience the natural beauty of Martinique; try the six-hour hike from Le Prêcheur to Grand-Rivière in the north, take a trip to the top of Mt. Pelée, stroll through one of the many beautiful gardens here or visit national landmarks such as the Dubuc Castle. If you enjoy playing sports, you can easily enjoy a round of golf or tennis in the sunshine.
Canyoning- in which participants hike through the canyons of the islands, plunging into icy pools and climbing over large rocks and obstacles in the rainforests, is becoming a popular activity on Martinique- but isn’t for the faint hearted!
Of course you can’t think much about your Caribbean holiday without considering the beaches, and Martinique beaches come with great variety; black sand beaches to the north, and the powdery white sand beaches on the south side. Along with the expectant white sandy beaches to the south, comes the calmer waters and family friendly beach set up. For those looking to enjoy the surf- try the east coast with better waves and a more rugged coastline.
If you’re feeling like a day out of the sun, indoors- there is still plenty to do with 30 museums and historic buildings on Martinique, all relatively small and easy to navigate to. The House of Sugar Cane, Banana Museum, and Museum of Vegetable Head Stocks are great places to learn about Martinique's agricultural background, and you’ll also find other speciality museums. If you just want peace and quiet indoors then treat yourself with some shopping or a treatment or two in a spa. Other indoor activities include shopping and spa treatments.