Whether you have sailed the Windward Islands of the French Antilles extensively or just visited them once, this part of the world surely left a a mark of unfeigned appreciation at its natural beauty in your heart! Every island has a uniqueness that draws visitors to come back exploring.
Each of the Windward islands carry the common alloy of lost indigenous culture, explosive tropical colours, diversity of ethnicities and folklores and the volcanic island of Martinique measuring just above 430 sq.miles, is just one of them. Located in the Lesser Antilles, it’s unofficial nickname Ile aux Fleurs ("Island of Flowers") properly hints to one of its priceless man-made creations celebrating the creative mastery of Nature—Jardin de Balata (Balata Botanical Garden). Tucked among the rainforest, just 10 km away from Fort de France, the Garden offers a one-of-a-kind experience for the senses with over 3000 species of tropical plants from all over the world, including 300 varieties of palm trees. The garden design is built around the original Creole-style house situated on the property. In addition to the breath-taking richness of colours and shapes along the tranquil winding alleys, the magnificent views to the Carbet Mountains, and the melodious bird humming, visitors can explore bits of the local culture by visiting the house.
If visiting a botanical garden is not enough for the nature-loving soul, Martinique offers a rare for a Caribbean island hiking and ecotourism opportunities. The Route de la Trace, also known as road N3, swirls through the tropical scenery and up to the mountains as it diverges into several hiking trails leading to the volcanic peaks. The story tells the road was first cut by the Jesuits in the 17th century. Following the Route further inland, visitors reach 600 m elevation at peak Piton Boucher and then gradually drop to the lavishly green Alma River gorge to enjoy a refreshing sweet-water swim. It is a picturesque location that rewards with its cool and welcoming shades!
Last but not least and a unique hallmark to try while sailing in Martinique is its rhum agricole! The quality of the Martinique rum is unmatched by any other product worldwide. In the 17th century when the sugar cane plantation owners realized a liquor could be made by the runoff of the sugar production, the rum quickly became a lucrative commodity. With time, different ways to produce rum were developed and today rum can be categorized as French, Spanish, and British. However, only French rum is extracted by sugar juice which gives the liquor its superb flavour complexity similar to the wine terroir. Martinique’s rum is so exceptional it has been given an AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) which technically makes it "the only rum" alike the French region of Champagne produces the only real champagne in the world. Sipping Martinique’s rhum agricole is a must when sailing in Martinique. It will turn a voyage into an adventure through time to a moment in history when the world was still a place of great mystery!
If you're interested in sailing in Martinique then you can book a cabin on a stunning catamaran yacht. Find out more here.
Published 7 July 2020. Author…Antoniya Nemtserova
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