Martinique is a beautiful island that is a perfect marriage of French and Caribbean culture. Recently, this port won First Place in the Emerging Destinations category of TripAdvisor’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards and it isn’t hard to see why. The cruise terminal at Fort-de-France is state of the art and a welcome entrance to the island. Passengers exiting the ship are greeted by hostesses in Creole costumes and local musicians as they enter the cruise village. The village accepts U.S. dollars and has a variety of vendors with local dancing and rum tasting. With this enchanting welcome into port, it’s no wonder Martinique has become a favorite in Caribbean itineraries.
The city center of Fort-de-France, Martinique’s bustling capital, is only a 15-minute walk from the port and is the starting point for the world of discovery Martinique offers. In recent years, the island has expanded its offerings to tourists to further highlight the nature, culture, and adventure that the destination offers, making it one of the top eco-destinations in the Caribbean. For a relaxing and French-like atmosphere, the city of Fort-de-France is the place to be, offering shopping, dining, and outdoor sites such as the Central Park – a flowering garden filled with spectacular fountains – and the historic Fort Saint Louis.
Further out from the city and port, the nature of the island offers a large array of unique activities and sites. For example, the famous volcano Mount Pelee offers a chance to hike and see some of the most beautiful views of the island at the top of its 1,397-meter peak. Those interested in the science of the volcano will have the opportunity to see one of the largest seismographs in the world inside the Morne des Cadets observatory. In keeping with the outdoor nature theme, an excursion to La Caravelle Nature Reserve cannot be missed. At the summit of the Peninsula visitors can see panoramic views of the island. At the Lighthouse or further down you can enjoy scuba-diving and snorkeling along the beach of Treasure Bay. The most adventurous visitors can go canyoning in the peaks of Carbet or Mount Pelee. State-certified guides will lead adventurers through the caves, waterfalls, and tropical forests of the area on a uniquely amazing tour.
While Martinique is filled with natural beauty, it is also rife with dense French and Caribbean history. Three major sites offer visitors a chance to soak up the history and culture of the island. First, the Clément Plantation house is the historic heart of the Habitation Clément and was originally a residence in 1887. Visitors will see traditional architecture and furniture as well as art galleries on this 160-hectare estate. It includes planted gardens, pools, and plantation buildings. Visitors can also taste traditional foods and cocktails.
A deeply immersive and moving experience lies in a visit to La Savane des Esclaves (The Savannah of the Slaves), the only slave education and memorial site on the island. It is a replica of a slave village complete with huts and living quarters that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. A walk among the quarters and through the medicinal gardens is a reverent experience.
Finally, the former capital of Martinique – Saint-Pierre – offers a variety of historical activities. Saint Pierre was destroyed in 1902 by the eruption of Mount Pelée. Nicknamed the little Pompeii of the Caribbean, it is officially recognized as a City of Art. The whole town can be toured by Le Petit Train Cyparis Express, and for a better look into the volcanic impact on the area we recommend a visit to the Franck Perret Volcanology Museum. Don’t forget the Depaz Distillery for a chance to taste some wonderful Caribbean rum.
With so much for cruise visitors to enjoy, Martinique is a required stop on many Caribbean itineraries.