2022 1st Qtr Travel and Cruise Magazine

Page 26

On Land

Why Martinique Is the Ultimate Destination for Nature Lovers

View from Mount Pelee

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estled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles, this island boasts some of the Caribbean’s most awe-inspiring natural scenery – not to mention a distinctive mix of French and Creole cultures that makes for a travel experience like none other. Here are four reasons a vacation in Martinique is a nature lover’s dream. 1. SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES Tropical forests, pristine coastline, wild mangroves, rugged mountains – Martinique’s sheer variety of natural landscapes has to be seen to be believed. Two-thirds of the island is protected parkland, so the wilderness is gloriously unspoiled. Don’t miss Mount Pelée, a towering volcano near the northern tip of the island that is currently a candidate for UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. The surrounding area is very lush, with dense forests, black-sand beaches, rivers, and waterfalls. Drive two hours to the island’s southernmost point, and you’ll enter what seems like another world entirely, where desert-like terrain lies side-by-side with rocky headlands and long stretches of white-sand beach. 2. INCREDIBLE BIODIVERSITY In 2021, UNESCO added the entire island of Martinique to its World Network 24 FIRST QUARTER 2022 | TRAVEL & CRUISE

of Biosphere Reserves, which promotes biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. In addition to its remarkable geology, the island has an abundance of colorful wildlife and plants. In fact, the forests of Mount Pelée and the nearby Pitons du Carbet peaks are home to the highest number of endemic species in the West Indies. Visit the two sprawling nature parks – the Jardin de Balata and the Domaine d’Émeraude – to see for yourself why Martinique is nicknamed the Isle of Flowers. 3. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND WELLNESS GETAWAYS Martinique has long recognized the importance of preserving its extraordinary natural beauty and diverse ecosystems. You’ll find a wealth of activities that allow you to experience the great outdoors while minimizing your environmental footprint, including canyoning in the rainforest, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, kayaking along islets and bays, and cycling or horseback riding along the coast. For a truly relaxing experience, stay in one of the island’s eco-friendly accommodations. Unwind with a spa treatment amid stunning natural surroundings at Eden Paradise Spa Ecolodge in SainteLuce. Or head to Le Domaine des Bulles in Le Vauclin, where you’ll sleep in a

transparent “bubble” room surrounded by greenery and enjoy relaxing treatments at the wellness center. 4. EXHILARATING ESCAPES With more than 150 miles of trails linking coastline, forests, and mountains, hiking is one of the best ways to experience Martinique’s natural beauty in all its forms. If you’re keen to get out on the water, consider renting a catamaran or sailboat, or embark on a crewed boating excursion for the day. Under the sea, there are hundreds of top-notch dive sites for all experience levels, from the shipwrecks of Saint-Pierre in the north to the monolithic Diamond Rock, a massive basalt island in the south. AND THAT’S NOT ALL… Beyond the scenic vistas and outdoor adventures, Martinique offers an enticing blend of French and Creole cultures. This rich diversity shines through the mouthwatering cuisine, world-renowned rum, and fascinating monuments and museums all over the island. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of visitors and residents has been Martinique’s top priority. Nonstop flights from Miami to Martinique’s capital city, Fort-de-France, are available yearround with American Airlines.