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Martinique offers a countless number of selling points to pitch to your Caribbean savvy clients looking for a little something different that just fun in the sun. But if you haven’t been able to see for yourself and want to start selling it immediately, here is a cheat sheet we put together to get you started.
Martinique History 101
First sighted by Columbus on his initial expedition in 1493, Martinique played host to its first European “tourists” in 1502 when Columbus landed there during his fourth voyage. Dubbed Martinique by Columbus, the island was inhabited by Carib Indians who had driven away the Arawaks who, like themselves, had come to the island from South America.
Martinique was claimed by France in 1635 and officially annexed in 1674. France and Britain fought over the island until 1815, when it was restored to France. Slavery was abolished in 1848. In 1946, Martinique became a Department of France and in 1974 a Region of France, its current status.
Modern day Martinique is truly “a little bit of France in the Caribbean.” It exudes an alluring and distinctly French sensibility in the excellence of its cuisine, the chic sophistication of its fine resorts and hotels, and the sensuality of its language.
Yet Martinique has a cachet all its own; an endearing West Indian warmth and friendliness in its personality, a special spice in its music and dance, its local dishes, cultural heritage, and way of life. It is an island with style and so much more.
Martinique is nestled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles between Dominica to the north and St. Lucia. It lies 1,965 miles from New York, 1,470 miles from Miami, 425 miles from San Juan and 4,261 miles from Paris.
Temperatures average 79 degrees with two regular alternating wind currents (les alizés) keeping the island cool. There is only about a five-degree difference between summer and winter temperatures.
Size and Layout
The island has a population of roughly 400,000 people and it about 425 square miles (50 miles long and 22 miles across at its widest point), or just a few blocks smaller than New York City.
It’s mountainous and lush in the north with plains in the center and rocky hills (mornes) framing pristine beach coves (anses) in the south.
Money Exchanges & Banks
U.S. dollars can be converted to euros at locations throughout the island. Hours of operation vary, though Fort-de-France banks are generally open 7:30 a.m. to noon and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Bank-operated 24-hour ATM’s can also be found throughout the island.
Voltage is 220 AC. Visitors traveling with hair dryers, shavers and other appliances made in the U.S. will require international power adapters.
Martinique is more than 6,000 hotel rooms with budget, moderate and luxury properties scattered throughout the island. For the rustic and truly budget-conscious, beachfront and rainforest camping can be arranged. Those seeking a more luxurious experience can opt for villa and private island rentals.
Getting There By Air
American Airlines/American Eagle connects via San Juan daily. Air France operates daily from Miami. Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines service from New York connects with LIAT in Antigua or Barbados. Air Caraibes flies to/from Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St Vincent and Trinidad.
Getting There By Cruise
Cruise lines featuring Martinique in 2009-2010 include Azamara Cruises, Holland America Line, MSC Italian Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.
If its yachting your clients desire, bareboat or crewed charters can be arranged at most hotels. Yachtsmen can choose among several marinas, most notably Port de Plaisance in Le Marin, the island’s largest and best equipped marina
Air/sea connections can be made via Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica and Les Saintes aboard sleek catamarans operated by Express des Iles. Ferry service operates daily with a typical trip from Guadeloupe taking approximately three to three and half hours.
Getting Around by Rental Car
There are 5,431 cars available for rentals. Driving is on the right with cars provided by Avis, Budget, Hertz and more. A valid driver’s license is required; the minimum age is 21.
Getting Around by Taxi
Taxi stands are located at the airport, in Fort-de-France, and at major hotels. All cabs are metered. Martinique has more than 200 taxis, 80 percent of which are Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
World-renowned for its cuisine, Martinique’s more than 365 restaurants feature the best of French and Creole. Seafood abounds, prepared Creole-style with spices, or in a classic French manner with herbs.
The Rum Capital of the World, Martinique is home to 15 brands, each produced utilizing a unique rhum agricole method yielding blends comparable to fine cognacs. Martinique rhums are the only rums to carry the exalted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation formerly reserved for the finest wines. Free tasting is available at all of the island’s distilleries.
Martinique is the birthplace of the famed poet, Aimé Césaire, Zouk and Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, Martinique boasts a rich cultural heritage kept alive in the island’s 25 museums.
Martinique offers the best of Parisian fashion, jewelry, perfumes, etc., and local treasures. La Galleria Mall is a top shopping spot, while Rue Victor Hugo is to Martinique as Fifth Avenue is to New York.
The best-kept secret in Caribbean diving, Martinique offers abundant marine life, historic shipwrecks and healthy reefs. The highlight is Diamond Rock, an offshore island with a deep undersea cavern.
Martinique’s two casinos, Casino de la Batelière Plaza located just north of Fort-de-France and Casino des Trois Ilets, offer slots, blackjack, roulette and more. Patrons must be 18; dress is casual.
Golf & Tennis
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the 18-hole Golf de l’Impératrice Joséphine in Trois Ilets, is the island’s sole golf course. Tennis is available at the course and at resorts throughout the island.
Required documents include original birth certificates; certificate of good conduct; residency card (bride or groom must reside on-island minimum of one month); medical certificate issued within three months of marriage; French translation of all documents
From sightseeing trains to the Butterfly Gardens and Mangofil, Martinique has much to offer families. The main attraction is Aqualand, a U.S.-style water park featuring water slides, wave pool, and young kids play area complete with its own pirate ship.
More About Martinique
The main currency is the Euro while French, Creole and English are the dominant languages. The main capital is Fore-de-France.