Martinique lies in the Caribbean Sea at approximately 14° 40' N 61° 00' W. It is also known as "The island of flowers" or Madinina. Martinique is the largest island in the Windward Islands chain. To the south lie the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. While to the north of Martinique lies Dominica and Guadeloupe.
Martinique offers all types of yacht charter such as bareboat yacht charter, skippered yacht charter, luxury crewed yacht charter, monohull and catamaran charter and both sail and motor yacht charter.
Martinique is an overseas department of France. Along with the other overseas departments, Martinique is also one of the twenty-six regions of France and an integral part of the Republic. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the Euro. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops. Currency can be exchanged in the banks. There are ATMs in all the cities of Martinique and in the marinas. The official language of Martinique is French although almost all of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole or Creole Martiniquais.
Christopher Columbus saw Martinique in 1493, but he didn't set foot on it until 1502 during his fourth voyage. Frenchman Pierre Belan d'Esnambuc was the first European to inhabit Martinique when he founded a settlement in 1635. The Caribs, the indigenous people of the Caribbean, were probably the first set of people to live on the island. Martinique became a part of the French crown in 1658. Sugar, indigo and coffee were the first crops to be grown on the island, worked by black slaves were brought to Martinique from West Africa.
The island was under Britain's command during the Seven Years' War from 1762 to 1763; during the French Revolutionary Wars from 1794 to 1802; and again during the Napoleonic wars from 1809 to 1814.
The French Revolution saw severe conflicts in Martinique with the monarchists and revolutionaries bitterly opposed. The royalist faction gained the upper hand in 1791 and declared the independence of Martinique. When threatened again by Napolean's followers they invited the British to occupy Martinique in 1794.
Slavery was banned in 1848 and people from India and China were brought to work the farms and plantations on Martinique. During World War II the island was at first controlled by the Vichy regime from 1940-1943 but when the war finished Martinique was under the control of the Free French Forces.
Martinique lies in the trade wind belt providing reliable and predicable winds, a big plus for those wanting to do some sailing on their yacht charter. During the summer months the winds prevail at 10 20 knots from the northeast. The winter will see 15 - 20 knots generally from the east. Consistent tropical temperatures year round make for an enjoyable yacht charter.
The geography of Martinique is quite distinct. The north has lush foliage, rivers and spectacular mountains. Most of the beaches in the north have black sand. While the south of Martinique is blessed with the white sand beaches backed by palms and sea grapes. To the east of Martinique is the Atlantic Ocean. The calmer waters of the Caribbean Sea are to be found to the west of Martinique and sailing in these waters will generally make for a more pleasant yacht charter.
Martinique is a popular location for dive charters and dive centres. The waters surrounding the island are filled with a wonderful diversity of marine life including coral. And there are several of old shipwrecks for divers to explore around Martinique.
The major airport on Martinique is Lamentin International. There are at least 4 direct daily flights from Paris, France. Flights to Martinique from North America are limited, only one a week via Miami or Haiti. Flying to nearby island of St Lucia may prove a useful alternative.
Provisioning in Martinique is very good with supermarkets offering a wide array of produce, both local and European. Fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meat, pates and seafood are plentiful. Plan to do major provisioning for your yacht charter on Martinique as the choice and quality of goods on offer will be superior to those found on the other islands. You will also find good clothes shopping on Martinique with many outlets offering the latest French and European fashions.
Just a short ride from the airport is Le Marin, the heart of the yacht charter business in Martinique. Le Marin has all the facilities you could wish for: well-stocked chandleries, a supermarket for provisioning the yacht prior to sailing of on your charter and a plenty of restaurants. The immense bay is well protected and considered to be the best hurricane hole for yachts in Martinique.
Martinique has a distinct Franco Caribbean feel which provides for an excellent cuisine. Local products are used extensively and the dishes are exotic and rich in colour. Restaurants range from the expected French and Creole but you can also find those specialising in African dishes as well. Seafood on Martinique is very good and includes fresh local crab and lobster. Also Conch, a large shellfish that can be barbequed or cooked in a delicious spicy sauce. Martinique rum is well known in the Caribbean and popular as the sun goes down. Try a "Ti- Punch", the local cocktail of Martinique. It consists of a measure of white rum, cane sugar syrup and the zest of a lemon.
Here is some information on locations that you are likely to visit on your yacht charter while sailing around Martinique;
Grande Anse d' Arlet is a popular and photogenic yacht anchorage that can become crowded on weekends. This fishing village is most charming. Brightly painted boats known as gommiers sit right on the sparkling white sand beaches. The waters are well known for exceptional diving with a variety of tropical fish and colourful corals. There are a handful of modest restaurants and cafes
Anse Mitan is located along the southwestern shore of Martinique and has one of the island's most popular beaches. The area is packed with hotels, trendy boutiques and restaurants. Berthing here tends to be crowded and it may be sensible for yachts to call ahead prior to arrival.
Les Trois Inlets, with its old buildings, maintains its original charm and is largely unspoilt by tourist development. Napoleon's wife, Joséphine, was born in here Martinique and ruins of the Habitation de la Pagerie, where she spent her childhood, can still be visited in the town.The anchorage is so well protected that this is where yachts take refuge during hurricane warnings. There is a ferry to Forte de France, capital of Martinique, which runs from Les Trois Inlets.
Fort de France, the commercial centre and principal city of Martinique is well worth a visit. The town is a shopper’s paradise overflowing with fine boutiques selling the latest French fashions. Fort de France has many open-air markets in which to treasure hunt and pick up fresh fish and local produce. There are also museums to visit and architecture to admire. There are plenty of restaurants to choose Wash from the ferries can make the yacht anchorage choppy during the day but it settles down at night. The far end of the bay does not suffer from ferry wash and might be a better option for yachts planning to spend much time here.
St. Anne is a delightful town with a peaceful protected yacht anchorage right off the beach.
Le Francois, on the east coast of Martinique, is lined with miles of deeply indented shoreline offering numerous bays and islands. If you are brave enough to venture along the turbulent waters of the Atlantic you will find private enclaves that provide peaceful yacht anchorages. Le Francois is a pleasant fishing village with a large harbour. Musee Rhum Clement is an obsolete distillery in the cellar of an 18th century mansion with period furnishings that the Clement Rum Distillery closed in the 1990’s. There are many exhibits, a botanical park to explore and rum tasting.
St. Pierre was the original capital of Martinique and known as the “Paris of the Caribbean”. In 1902 the volcano erupted burying the city and the surrounding plantations with ash and lava. Today many of the ruins remain, with numerous new buildings attached to at least one wall of the past. A museum stands at the top of a hill and depicts the tragedy of that era. It is lit up at night and makes for a captivating backdrop for those on yachts anchored below.
There are also several one-way yacht charter options available; To St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe or even Los Roques in Venezuela. Ask your yacht charter company for more details.