When Columbus discovered it in 1493, he proclaimed it 'the most beautiful country in the world', and unaware that it already had its picturesque name, baptized it in honor of St Martin. For the Arawak and Carib Indians called it Madinina (‘the island of flowers'), and when you enter any of its botanical gardens (Le Jardin de Balata is a must), you immediately realize the indigenous name is a lot more suitable. Some call it 'the rum capital of the world', and those who have taken La Route des Rhums, a tour of the world's finest distilleries, will certainly follow suit. And those who have yielded to the romantic ambiance of fabulous beaches, star studded skies, tiny fishing villages and low-storey colorful houses of Fort-de-France, usually recall it as the island of lovers. Call it as you wish- by any of its names Martinique c'est magnifique!
The alluring beauty of its Caribbean location and the flair that it inherited from its European mother make the island a dreamlike destination for all sorts of holidaymakers. Every year hundreds of thousands are drawn to its spectacular volcanic landscape, its fine black, white or peppered sand beaches surrounded by sugar, pineapple, palm and banana plantations. Just picture a splendid surf with Mont Pelée smoldering in the distance and favorable trade winds throwing coconuts from the luscious palm trees.
Martinique oozes the Caribbean, laid-back character spiced with the lively zouk beats and blends it with French sophistication, be it in cuisine or the latest fashions that have both become an integral part of life here and seem bizarrely endogenous rather than imported. Shopping, dining, hiking, beach pampering, water sports, relaxing massages, romantic evenings and big nights out- just take your pick and be sure it's virtually a never-to-be-forgotten experience.