Martinique Journals

An Unexpected Natural Turn Along the Beaten Path

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A June 2005 trip to Martinique by MoDean

Sofitel Bakoua Photo, Martinique, Caribbean More Photos
Quote: Martinique is a destination with more than sun, surf, and sand—but devotees of these island vacation hallmarks needn’t worry.

An Unexpected Natural Turn Along the Beaten Path

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Overview

Martinique Golf Course Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
While a distinctive Créole culture sets this island apart, the allure of the Caribbean certainly isn’t lost on Martinique. There is much more than sun and sand here—something that can’t be said for every Caribbean destination—but that’s not to say that sun and sand don’t exist. In fact, there’s a whole side of Martinique to be enjoyed purely under the sun, on its beaches, in its mountains, and under its waters. The 424-square-mile island is one of the largest in the Caribbean, and from its southern to northern coasts, its landscape and climate flow from a hilly, drier environment to rain-forested mountains, where the air is thick with heat and moisture. Likewise, the oceanscape ranges fr...Read More

Sofitel Bakoua

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Hotel

Sofitel Bakoua Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
The process of seduction in which the Sofitel Bakoua engages is a long one; it begins as you drive off the main roads and into the lovely, you’d-swear-you’re-in-the-French-countryside village of Trois Ilets (Three Islands). Tucked into a cove in southwestern Martinique on the Baie de Fort-de-France, Trois Ilets is close to many of Martinique’s most picturesque beaches, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Because of this, it’s often referred to as Martinique’s tourism capital, but keep in mind that "tourism" here is hardly of the buffet- and casino-driven variety; this is tourism the way the French do ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Sofitel Bakoua
La Pointe du Bout
Martinique, Caribbean
+596 (5) 96660202

Jardin de Balata Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
Whoever nicknamed Martinique the "Island of Flowers" wasn’t kidding; the abundance and variety of flora is one of the first things you’ll notice here. Trees with brilliant red blooms swathe the hillsides, a rainbow of colors streaks by your car windows along the roads, and the island’s hotels indulge the opportunity to landscape with everything from fragrant frangipani to sunny yellow trumpet flowers, delicate orchids to—oddly enough—flowering cacti. For the full impact, however—to literally stop and smell the flowers—no visitor to Martinique should neglect to visit the Jardin de Balata and its sister property, ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Les Ombrages/Route de la Trace

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Attraction

Route de la Trace Stream Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
Worlds away from the beachy south coast of the island, the roads rise into twisting mountain paths, the green of the vegetation deepens a shade, and the humidity thickens. This is a whole other face of Martinique: the rainforest preserve and its surrounding environs. This area is so distinctive, in fact, that the President of Tourism has catalyzed an initiative to turn northern Martinique into a host region all its own. The region’s most recognizable landmarks are Mount Pelée and the pitons (peaks) of Le Carbet, a seaside town. Snaking its way through the Parc Naturel de la Martinique (rainforest preserve) is the Route de la Trace, the only road to traverse the ar...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Cap Est Catamaran Tour 1: Ilet Chancel

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Attraction

Ilet Chancel Pier Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
If you’ve been wondering where all the sun-and-surf entries in this so-called "outdoor" Caribbean journal have been, here you go. While staying at Cap Est in Le François, we decided to get back to basics on a catamaran tour around the waters off the Atlantic coast. At mid-morning, we set out for the pier, which itself is worth mentioning—a long, greenery-shaded archway creates quite an entrance, and you emerge into the sun on a long wooden pier stretching out into impossibly blue ocean. It’s the quintessential Caribbean picture. At the end, our catamaran—not really a catamaran at all, but a posh, white leather-upholstered motorboat—awaited. We set off, cruising smoothly over the sea’s swells as the wi...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Cap Est Pier Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
After a somewhat disappointing visit to Ilet Chancel, we where whisked away in our plush motorboat to Josephine’s Bathtub, a popular water excursion destination. It’s one of many fonds blanc in the area—spots where the ocean floor rises up to within a few feet of the surface, creating a shallow pool in the middle of the sea. Josephine is rumored to have bathed there while growing up in Martinique; whether "bathe" is meant literally is up for debate, but in any case, suits stay on, please. As it happened, Josephine’s Bathtub was packed with visitors that day, so we detoured to an alternati...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 11, 2005