An emerald gem of the Lesser Antilles island chain, Martinique features lush rain forests and pristine shorelines. The northern area is blanketed in mountainous terrain, including the highest point at Mount Pelee, but the flatter, more hilly landscapes of the south are more easily navigated, attracting most of the tourist activity.
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The Fort-de-France area of Martinique offers a vast array of activities. Vacationers can enjoy historical landmarks like Fort Saint Louis, which has been housed on the island since 1638 and now serves as a base for the French navy. Even if you aren't religious, the Saint Louis Cathedral is worth a visit for its baroque-style architecture with stained glass windows, iron framework and ornate adornments. Centrally located in Fort-de-France, La Savane is a charming square comprised of tropical gardens, picturesque cafes and a nearby market area where vendors sell handmade goods.
Sitting just across the bay from Fort-de-France a bit down and to the right on the map, Point au Bout Beach is an excellent place to soak up some sunshine and browse some of the island's biggest resort facilities. Another great spot to spend some time outdoors is the Jardin de Balata located just north of Fort-de-France in Balata. This enormous botanical garden boasts thousands of different plant species, including bromeliads, bamboo and hundreds of different palm trees.
Farther up the map you'll come across the town of St. Pierre. This spot is a must-see for history buffs, who will be captivated by the tale of how the entire town was destroyed during Mount Pelee's unexpected 1902 eruption. Tours can be arranged to view both the old town ruins and the impressive active volcano. Towards the northeastern portion of the island near Tartane, the Caravelle Nature Reserve is a stunning peninsula revered as one of the most beautiful places in the entire Caribbean. Guests can enjoy adventurous hiking trails or take a tour of the Dubuc Castle ruins located on the property.
If you're keen on touring the best beaches on the island, consider some of these options: Point de Marin towards the south, the popular Les Salines beach near Sainte-Anne, the secluded shores of Plage des Salines in the southeast, the black sandy beach of Anse Ceron near St. Pierre or perhaps some of the snorkeling hot spots near Diamant in the southwest.
The capital city of Martinique, Fort de France is the largest hub for tourism activity. This area is bursting with lodging and dining options as well as shopping opportunities. Aside from multiple hotels, the area also hosts some of the islands most popular attractions, like the previously mentioned Fort Saint Louis. Those who are interested in markets will be impressed by the specialized marketplaces that are located in the downtown area, including spices, produce, fish and more.
Located within close proximity to the popular Point au Bout Beach, the area surrounding Trois Ilets is an ideal location for vacationers seeking a sandy getaway. The vicinity is home to beach-front hotels, rental properties and more. If you decide to stay in this area, you'll find a buffet of enticing activities, from mountain biking and hiking to kayaking and helicopter excursions. Tourists interested in the area's rich culture will have convenient access to attractions like the Pagerie Museum and the Pottery Village.
The southernmost coasts of Martinique provide guests with a picturesque place to stay in paradise. Between the cities of Sainte Luce and Sainte-Anne, travelers will find an array of accommodations to suit their individual needs. Many hotels offer water sport equipment rentals for activities like snorkeling, sailing and boating. The area also offers several attractions, including the House of Sugar and a nearby golf course.
Those flying into Martinique will be arriving at the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF) in the city of Le Lamentin, to a bit lower and to the right of Fort de France on the map. This airport offers service to and from Miami, France and Venezuela, as well as various locations in the Caribbean. If a direct flight isn't available, you might make a connections through Guadeloupe or another island in the region.
Cruise ship passengers will likely find their ship docked at the port in of Pointe Simon, which is centrally located in Fort de France. The facility offers a passenger terminal and tender pier, which are both just a short walk away from the downtown area.
Ferries are a popular mode of transportation for vacationers visiting Martinique. The Brudey Ferries service offers shuttles between Fort de France and several other Martinique cities and towns, as well as trips to Guadeloupe, Dominica and St. Lucia. Likewise, the L'Express Des Iles transports patrons between Martinique and Guadeloupe aboard sleek ships equipped with amenities like air conditioning, television and snacks.
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