Located just north of the lovely island of St. Lucia, Martinique is an equally beautiful island to venture to for a Caribbean holiday. Surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, this little island has its own unique traditions and culture to share and with its combination landscape that includes a rugged mountain range, lush dense forest, and grand waterfalls, it is all too extraordinary to be true but a quick pinch will prove that you are not dreaming. These fantasy islands do exist and many of them lay out in the open in the Caribbean for you to discover.
Yet another island that Christopher Columbus stumbled upon during his voyages in 1502, Martinique did not appeal to the Spanish so he sailed on. Today, this island of the Lesser Antilles is a French overseas department and a closer look at Martinique culture will reveal the eclectic mix of French, Creole, African and Indian cultures. The official language is French but the language of Creole is the common tongue used by the locals as this language has more of the nuances that the locals need to truly express themselves in a way that French terminology alone can’t quite express. However when it comes to such things as art and literature, French culture is the stronger influence.
For an island that totals 1,060 square kilometres, it has numerous towns that demarcate different characteristics of Martinique. Divided into the four regions of Botanical North, Caribbean North, the North Atlantic and the Southern Towns, you can find little communities that keep a lookout over the island’s active volcano Mount Pelée, like in the town of Fond Saint-Denis where a summit observatory is located. In the town of Carbet in the Caribbean North district, discover the Gauguin Museum and the Bally Distillery. Over in the Northern Atlantic region, Le Lorrain is known as the place to be to witness the spectacular views and Ajoupa Bouillon is known for its lovely gorges and cascading waterfalls. The largest gem is a rock called “the diamond” sitting across from the town of the same name (in French) Le Diamant in the Southern Towns region. Here you can do a little bird watching as the rock is the central point for many of the indigenous birds.
It is no secret that the liquid gold that flows from the Caribbean is rum and the ones distilled here in Martinique are considered second to none! This distilled alcoholic beverage derived directly from or from the by-products of sugarcane, is the heart of the islands. In Northern Martinique there are five distilleries and you can tour each one of them. Depaz Distillery has been producing quality rum for over 400 years and it sits at the foot of Martinique’s sleeping giant, Mount Pelée. Hardy Distillery is a small family owned distillery while JM Crassous De Médeuil Distillery is large enough that you can take 4×4 tours of the sugar plantation.
The rums produced out of Central Martinique have earned French label honours normally reserved for the finest French cheeses and wines. As we know the French are passionate about food and wine so there is something to be said about the rums of Martinique if the prestigious French “stamp of approval” placed on the rums.
Continue you visit to the South Martinique distilleries and sample each one as you go along. Habitation Clément, a distillery and a winery, has an 18th century flare about its establishment and houses about 1.5 million liters of rum during the aging process. Along with wine and rum tasting, you can explore the exhibitions they have on hand and some archives that tell the history of rum manufacturing and even about the transportation of rum in the early 20th century.
So little time and so much to do in Martinique and we’ve only just begun with the rum tour! Take a trip to Martinique and discover the rest!