Savour the essence of this Caribbean island
Mangroves, mountains and more than a little rum – Martinique has it all. Combine the best bits of island life with a thriving cultural scene, taking in all the natural beauty and diversity this paradise has to offer.
For barefoot luxury at its best, check in to the French Coco – an all-suite luxury hotel just a moments’ walk from the lapping waves of the Atlantic. Indulge in Creole-inspired cuisine, with organic food from the hotel’s own garden, before slipping back to the Caribbean charm of your suite.
From the hotel, you can step straight out into the stunning Caravelle Peninsula. Hike through inland forests towards marshland, rugged coastline and golden sands for an immediate appreciation of the ever-changing landscape. On the north coast of the peninsula, you’ll find Tartane, a tranquil fishing village where you can while away the hours watching the colourful boats come and go. A short walk from here brings you to Cocoa beach, a popular surf spot that brings swell-chasers from far and wide. And if French castles are on your to-see list, you can continue 30 minutes east toward the ruins of Château Dubuc for some 17th century sightseeing.
Some of Martinique’s most beautiful scenery is tucked away among the mountains to the north of the island. Gorges de la Falaise is where you’ll find the waterfall that flows from the slopes of the volcanic Mount Pelée, via rocky canyons and dense tropical forest. Strong shoes and swimwear are highly recommended to make the most out of any route that takes you via the gorges – you can also rent shoes from some guides if you’re keen to keep yours dry. It’s not the easiest of terrains to navigate, but the breath-taking waterfall finale makes the hike worth every step.
Heading for the island capital of Fort de France, you’ll find an increasing number of historical buildings and cultural attractions, as well as more areas of natural beauty. Further cascades await at Didier Waterfall, Schœlcher, the bottling plant for Didier water. A well-trodden trail takes you across an old stone bridge, through a tunnel (keep an eye out for bats), and out towards the first waterfall and pool. Keep climbing to reach a second, even more impressive waterfall – where the cool water is safe to swim in and pure enough to drink.
About 10km from the capital lies the Jardin de Balata, three hectares of mature botanical gardens. Showcasing plants, flowers and other natural wonders from all over the world, you can choose from a variety of tree-walks, including a passage over a suspension bridge high up in the canopy. You might even spot hummingbirds as they flit between the nectar-rich species.
For an authentic taste of Martinique’s own unique nectar, you’re best off heading back to Caravelle. Here the Hardy Distillery gives a nod to one of the island’s biggest exports: rum. And while Hardy’s rhum-making operations have now moved to nearby Sainte-Marie, its lasting significance in Tartane is nothing short of legendary. Treat yourself to a bottle from the small shop at the old distillery, and enjoy the flavours of an historical plantation from its founding place.