Martinique is one of the most popular yacht charter destinations in the Lesser Antilles. The island’s idyllic white sand beaches, volcanic shores, tropical rainforests and unmistakable French charm lend it a unique character that leaves few visitors indifferent. The impressive local culture and cuisine reflect both French and Caribbean influences, offering a versatile blend of sights and tastes to explore, while the beaches and tourist towns are perfect for swimming, relaxing and enjoying a memorable night out.
The north coast of Martinique is ideal for those looking for an adventure holiday, with countless hiking trails inviting visitors to explore the island’s lush tropical forests, mountains and volcanic landscapes. The south of the island offers a completely different experience and appeals more to visitors looking for a relaxing vacation, with stunning white sand beaches, scenic bays and a highly developed tourist infrastructure.
Martinique has a tropical climate and enjoys warm weather throughout the year, with temperatures generally staying in the range from 22° to 30°. The water temperature is steady year-round, averaging 20° to 23°. The sailing season lasts from December to May, when the weather is mostly dry. The rainy season begins in May, making sailing conditions less comfortable, and the hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the highest incidence of storms occurring in September. Strong winds and storms that cause swells are not uncommon between November and March.
The south side of the island is slightly drier than the north, which is covered in rainforests and has more humid weather. The windward Atlantic coast is considerably more challenging for sailors, with strong winds, shallow coral reefs and cliffs making it hazardous for sea traffic. The leeward Caribbean coast is much friendlier and ideal for beginners, with steady trade winds blowing at 10 to 25 knots.
The island’s capital and main port of entry, Fort-de-France, is the perfect place to charter a boat and set off to discover everything the island has to offer. Situated in a beautiful, safe bay on the island’s west coast, the city also offers countless historic and cultural attractions to explore.
Other major ports in Martinique are Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Anse Mitan and Saint-Pierre. Located in a deep bay on the southern coast, Cul-de-Sac du Marin offers safe anchorage in the island’s largest marina, Port de Plaisance, which can accommodate more than 800 sailboats along floating docks and mooring buoys. Anse Mitan on the west coast is a small harbour and the main tourist center on the island. Situated to the south of Fort-de-France, it offers anchorage in a lovely bay or in a small marina. Saint-Pierre in the northwestern part of the island is another port of entry, offering anchorage in what was once Martinique’s most important city, before its total destruction in 1902 by an erupting volcano.
The ports and marinas on the Atlantic side include Le Robert and Le François, known for its long sand bars and a number of small islands in the vicinity.
Martinique is known for its spectacular natural sights in the north and lively tourist resorts in the south. Mount Pelée, an active volcano on the north side of the island, dominates the landscape and offers amazing views from the summit. Now in a quiescent state, the volcano is famous for its eruption in 1902, which completely destroyed the city of Saint-Pierre. Today, it is a popular destination for challenging hikes, with numerous trails criss-crossing the tropical rainforest that surrounds it. Black sand beaches at the foot of the volcano are perfect for those looking for remote, untouched places to relax. Anse Couleuvre, which harbours two stunning wild beaches with shimmering black sand, lined with coconut trees, is a popular spot for surfing, snorkelling and diving.
Saint-Pierre is the place to visit to learn more about Mount Pelée at the Volcano Museum or to scuba dive and see the wrecks of the ships that sunk when the volcano erupted.
The southern part of the island is perfect for beach activities, relaxing, shopping and exploring the exquisite blend of the local French and Creole cuisine. The stunning beaches in the south include Les Salines near Sainte-Anne, a popular destination for families that offers views of Diamond Rock, a basalt islet with a deep cavern that attracts countless scuba divers each year, and Pointe du Bout, a busy, resort-lined area famous for its bars, restaurants and energetic nightlife.
Fort-de-France, the largest city on the island, has a number of attractions and is an ideal starting point for cruises along the western coast. The cultural sights include Fort Saint-Louis, a fortress in the harbour built during the reign of Louis XIII, Sacré-Coeur de Balata, a replica of the Montmartre Church in Paris constructed on a cliff, Jardin de Balata, a large botanical garden 10 km outside the city that houses 3,000 varieties of tropical plants, including 300 varieties of palm trees, and Cascades Didier (Didier Waterfalls), a breathtaking natural area with an unmarked trail leading through a tropical jungle and scenic waterfalls.
Les Trois-Îlets, a popular resort town situated across the bay from Fort-de-France, is famous for its amazing sandy beaches, the Open Air Slave Museum, and Pagerie Estate, a mansion that was once home to Joséphine de Beauharnais, who later became empress of France.