Martinique: Places To Go
Sailing and windsurfing at Club de la Voile de Fort-de-France, Pointe de la Vièrge, T614969, and Pointe des Carrières, T633137; Club Nautique de Marin, Bassin la Tortue, Pointe du Marin, T749248; Club Nautique du François, Route de la Jetée, T543100; Club Nautique du Vauclin, Pointe Faula, T745058; Yacht Club de la Martinique, Fort de France, T702360; Base de Plein Air et de Loisirs, Anse Spoutourne, Tartane, T582432. There are glass bottom boats, motor boats, sailing boats for excursions and lots of craft for hire. Windsurfing is available on hotel beaches where there are board rentals. Jet skiing, sea scooters and waterskiing at Pointe du Bout hotel beaches, Marouba Club (Carbet) and Pointe Marin beach in Ste-Anne. Many hotels like Bambou, La Dunette, Diamant-les-Bains organize fishing trips with local fishermen for their guests. Deep sea fishing can be arranged at Bathy's Club (Meridien), T660000 or Rayon Vert, T788056, around 4,000F per boat.
Yole (yawl) races (large sailing boats with coloured sails and teams of oarsmen) are an amazing sight at festivals all over the island from July to January. In Fort-de-France races take place in November and December from the little beach next to Desnambuc quay. Other major sailing occasions include the Schoelcher International Nautical Week in February, with sailing and windsurfing competitions; International Sailing Week in March (Yacht Club of Fort-de-France); the Aqua Festival, the Great Nautical Celebration at Robert in April; the Yawl Regatta Tour of Martinique in July or August, when over a period of eight days about 20 yawls set off for a colourful race.
Diving is especially good along the coral reef between St-Pierre and Le Prêcheur, over the wrecks off St-Pierre and along the south coast. A medical certificate is required unless you are a qualified diver, in which case you need your certification card. There are lots of dive operators, most of which are based at the large hotels.
For those who do not dive, there are the Kelennea glass-bottomed boat at Marina Pointe du Bout, Trois Ilets, T660550, F660552 and the Aquabulle at Marin, T746969, which has a glass hull. To get even further under the water, there are two semi-submersibles: Aquascope Seadom Explorer, Marina Pointe du Bout, T683609 and Zemis Aquascope, Rue de Caritan, Ponton de la Mairie, T748741.
At Trois-Ilets is a magnificent, 18-hole championship golf course designed by Henry Trent Jones, with various facilities including two tennis courts, shops, snackbar, lessons and equipment hire. Green fees in high season are US$46 and in low season US$39, or you can book for a week (US$285, US$227) or a month (US$960, US$900). Electric carts and other equipment are available for rent. Contact Golf Country Club de la Martinique, 97229 Trois-Ilets, T683281, F683897. Two mini-golf courses are at Madiana Plage à Schoelcher and Anse l'Etang à Tartane.
Courts are at many large hotels; Bakoua; Club Méditerranée; Plantation Leyritz; PLM Azur Carayou; Novotel; Meridien, Framissima, Hôtel Casino la Batelière and others where visitors can play at night as well as during the day. There are also about 40 clubs round the island where you can play by obtaining temporary membership. For more information contact La Ligue Regional de Tennis, Petit Manoir, Lamentin, T510800.
A good way to see Martinique's superb countryside; Ranch Jack, Morne Habitue-Quartier Espérance, T683769; Black Horse, La Pagerie, Trois-Ilets, T683780; La Cavale, Diamant, T762294; and others offering schooling, hacking and other facilities. At Plantation Leyritz there are two horses for guests' use.
Touring the island by bike is one of the activities offered by the Parc Naturel Régional. For information T731930. VT Tilt, Anse Mitan, Trois-Ilets, offers excursions by bike and cycle groups, T660101, F511400.
Mongoose and snake fights and cockfights are widespread from December to the beginning of August at Pitt Quartier Bac, Ducos, T560560; Pitt Marceny (the most popular), Le Lamentin, T512847, Pitt Cléry, Rivière-Pilote, T626169 and many others. Horse racing is at the Carrère racetrack at Lamentin, T512509.
Martinique has more than its fair share of festivals. The main pre-lenten carnival, Mardi Gras, takes place in February or March when the whole of Martinique takes to the streets in fantastic costume. On Ash Wednesday, black and white clad 'devils' parade the streets lamenting loudly over the death of Vaval. At Eastertime, the children fly coloured kites which once had razors attached to their tails for kite fights in the wind. At Toussaint in November, the towns are lit by candlelight processions making their way to the cemeteries to sit with the dead.
Every village celebrates its Saint's Day with games, shows and folk dancing, usually over the nearest weekend. The town of Saint-Marie holds a cultural festival in July, and Ajoupa-Bouillon has a festival of the crayfish, while in August the town of Marin holds its cultural festival.
Among the many other festivities there is the Martinique Food Show, in April, a culinary fair with lots of competitions; the May of St-Pierre, in May, which commemorates the eruption of the volcano Montagne Pelée; the biennial International Jazz Festival, or World Crossroads of the Guitar, in December.