Recommend September 2017 - 7
With its great outdoors, enthralling history, cultural must-do's and
chic French style, Martinique caters to an array of travelers. Museumhopping? Check. A garden stroll? Check. Family-fun activities?
Check. Cultural immersion? Check. The Island of Flowers is also a top
destination for cruise passengers, offering a wealth of shore excursions
that run the gamut from snorkeling to rum tasting. Martinique is the place to recommend to art lovers, active
adventurers, shopaholics, cruise passengers, and those looking to book a family or multigenerational getaway.
Martinique is one of the fastest growing cruise destinations in the
Caribbean, with capital improvements made in the past few years
to primary cruise ports located in Fort-de-France (Pointe Simon
and Les Tourelles). Martinique has two cruise terminals in Fort-deFrance and five possibilities of anchorage-one in the North and
four in the South.
Cruise passengers can choose from a variety
of shore excursion options, including:
n Boat ride to Chancel Islet to see giant iguanas and
take a swim in the lagoon.
n Kayaking in the mangroves, home to tropical birds,
fish, and flowers.
n Visit to Balata Garden, the canopy, the plantation house
and gardens of Habitation Clément.
n Visit to Saint-Pierre and a tour/tasting at the
centuries-old Depaz Distillery.
n 4x4 excursion through the heart of the island: rainforest, farms,
and a swimming hole.
n Guided tour of La Savane des Esclaves,
a re-enactment of a former slaves village.
n Visit to House of Bèlè culture and music museum,
and a tasting at St. James distillery.
n Turtle-spotting and fish-viewing in a craft
with submerged portholes.
n Nature walks in Emerald Estate, a thriving rainforest
preserve at the foot of Mount Pelée.
n Snorkeling trips that includes Martinique's famous
bat cave and schools of Technicolor fish.
(Please note that these tours are only bookable
through the cruise lines.)
Museum & Garden Lovers
Martinique has an unusually large number of worthwhile
museums in Fort-de-France, in/near Saint-Pierre, and other places
as well. For a bonus, some of these treasure troves occupy
buildings that are, in themselves, historic and/or architectural
attractions. Clients can go museum-hopping, exploring everything
from the Espace Muséal Aimé Césaire (Fort-de-France), honoring
the work of famed poet, playwright and politician, Aimé Césaire, to
Musée d'Archéologie Précolombienne et de Préhistoire (Fort-deFrance), one of the top pre-Columbian museums in the Caribbean,
displaying more than 2,000 Arawak and Carib artifacts.
The island is also home to Le Musée de la Pagerie (Les Trois-Îlets),
a former plantation house where Empress Josephine spent her first
15 years, and La Maison Régionale des Volcans (Morne Rouge),
with exhibitions about Mount Pelée, and offering guided hikes up
the once-angry mountain. For those interested in how rum is made,
point them to La Maison de la Canne (Les Trois-Îlets), located in
a historic distillery, and showcasing how this crop dominated the
island's economy, politics and culture.
With its gorgeous gardens, the Island of Flowers is made for
travelers who enjoy getting lost amidst a lush landscape brimming with bird song and tropical plants. Point them to Le Jardin
de Balata (Fort-de-France), home to 3,000 kinds of tropical plants,
including 300 varieties of palm trees; or to Le Domaine d'Émeraude
(Morne Rouge), with 2.5 miles of walking tracks that run throughout
the park, ensuring a hands-on discovery.
Especially for Families
Children enjoy the following attractions, but adults without kids love
them, too, just as children adore the Jardin de Papillons and other
attractions not specifically labeled "for families." Tell families to take
a detour to the Zoo de Martinique, featuring monkeys, jaguars,
pumas, lories, giant anteaters, and more at Latouche Plantation in
a historical yet natural setting. Or, if they are sealovers, point them
to Les Jardins de la Mer (Sainte Anne), an aquarium displaying the
six aquatic ecosystems of Martinique, from mangrove shorelines
to coral reefs. Or, if they want to dive into the water themselves,
there's the Maya Beach Club (Sainte Anne), an expansive,
inflatable waterpark featuring wading pools, water rides, kayaking,
Island of the Arts
Every island nurtures its arts, but with writers such as Aimé
Césaire, Patrick Chamoiseau, Edouard Glissant, and Frantz Fanon,
Martinique is in a league of its own. This island is an epicenter
of dynamic cultural activity: cinemas, theatrical performance,
exhibitions, music festivals, national cultural events, etc. Here,
clients can discover West Indian traditions and culture during
celebratory festivities; watch films by local filmmaking star Euzhan
Palcy, exploring themes ofrace, gender and politics from a
decidedly feminist perspective; and check out Toni Morisson's
Bench by the Road, inaugurated in 2013 in honor of Aimé Césaire,
and aimed at celebrating the emancipation of mankind. g
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