Tartane, Martinique

Photo: French Coco
Photo: French Coco

You’ve been dreaming about Martinique for years. With a still-active volcano and lush rainforests, black- and white-sand beaches, and the best of French culture plopped in a tropical setting, the island sounded like paradise. But the reality wasn’t quite as idyllic once you tried to plan a trip. Infrequent flights included long layovers. While hotels were in need of complete makeovers.

But with new flights and island upgrades, Martinique doesn’t have to remain a dream any longer. Norwegian Air now flies directly to the island from Boston, Baltimore, and New York. Modern restaurants are opening in Fort-de-France. Plus new hotels are appearing in not just the colorful capital, but all around the island.

Martinique’s most popular hotels sit along the south coast. It’s here that you find long white-sand beaches bordered by calm, crystal-clear water. It’s also where you find the crowds. So you head to the east coast—the wild Atlantic coast—in search of a small fishing village, historic sites, empty beaches, and a new hotel.

Photo: French Coco
Photo: French Coco

The Caravelle Peninsula, in the middle of the east coast, is one of the oldest settled areas on Martinique. It’s home to the ruins of Château Dubuc, which was built around a sugar-cane plantation and slaves in the early-18th century. The Caravelle Nature Reserve has dry forests, a rocky coastline, and quiet paths. Tiny yellow warblers and burrowing sand fiddler crabs greatly outnumber people. Just-caught fish are sold directly from small fishing boats on the little beaches. In-the-know surfers flock to Anse Bonneville for the island’s best waves. While a new boutique hotel sits just steps from the golden sand.

French Coco is a peaceful hotel that borders the nature reserve. Its small buildings are surrounded by wooden gates and boardwalks. Organic vegetables, lemongrass, and jasmine fill the beautiful gardens that attract colorful butterflies. The suites are simple with white walls and bedding, and just a few pops of color. You won’t spend much time in there anyway. Sliding glass doors lead to a covered terrace and a pool. A private pool. While the yellow-walled restaurant serves artful dishes and lots of rum. Martinique has finally caught up with your dream.

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