High white clouds are the only limit to the endless stretches of sky and water that swirl around the palm trees, beaches and bright colors of Martinique. While a visit to this island would be incomplete without leisurely hours lounging beside the warm sea, there are also inland attractions to keep you occupied when you're after a break from the sun.
Boats come in to harbor at Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique and a good base for exploring the rest of the island. Take a stroll through the main museums, markets and stop in for a look at the CathŠdral St-Louis before embarking on your tour.
The most prominent feature in Martinique's mountainous profile is Mont Pel‚e, a volcanic protrusion that wiped out the island's very cultured center, St-Pierre, when it blew in 1902. Remnants of the first St-Pierre, many now incorporated into modern St-Pierre, remain and provide a glimpse of the devastation caused by smoldering Mont Pel‚e over a century ago.
Lunch in one of the charming fishing villages along the coast and have an afternoon dip at a black-sand beach before starting the drive south through the mountains. Stop and stretch your legs on one of the trails in the region, before continuing on to pay your respects at botanical gardens, plantations and numerous rum distilleries. If you're after a strenuous day, try one of the long hikes winding around the north coast, guided if you so desire.
For a relaxing salt-water soak, beaches in the southwest are most popular, in large part because the waters are much gentler than along the north shores. If you are after time underwater rather than beside it, tank up to dive some of the wrecks and reefs around St-Pierre, or the caves to the south. Snorkellers can take to the waters around St-Pierre and further north, or along the southwest coast.
Martinique is 22 miles southeast of Dominica and 16 miles north of Saint Lucia.