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Caribbean island of Martinique boasts beach, rain forest, volcano


May 11, 2005 - There are few places in the world where you can dine on both authentic French cuisine and genuine island Creole in the same day that you tour a rain forest. Martinique in the Caribbean is one of them.

Like many islands in the Caribbean, Martinique is blessed with pretty beaches, a favorable climate, lush vegetation and fine hotels.

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The Schoelcher Library
What sets the island apart, however, is its strong French ties and unique island culture. These aspects lend themselves to a vacation experience that blends adventure, luxury and fun.

Martinique by Taxi or car

Vacationers can hire a taxi or car at their hotel and drive north out of the city. The road climbs steeply, edging the sea, then twists and turns through picture-postcard villages such as Case-Pilote and Belle-fontaine.

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Saint Pierre's Bay
Vacationers will eventually reach Le Carbet, the area where Columbus landed in 1502 on his fourth trip to the Americas. Visitors can tour Saint Pierre. Originally known as "The Little Paris of the Carib-bean," the first capital city of Martinique was destroyed in 1902 by a Mount Pelee eruption.

Today, the town is known as "The Little Pompeii of the Caribbean."

Sight-seeing in Martinique

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Martinique women in traditional costume
Visitors to the island can tour its lush rain forests, comb its beautiful beaches or bask in its fabled valleys. Of course, there's plenty to do in its capital city as well. Stroll around the green Savane, people-watch from a terrace cafe, or wander the busy little balconied streets, lined with boutiques, restaurants, pastry shops and more.

Martinique at a glance

The French island of Martinique lies in the heart of the Caribbean Archipelago and is one of the many islands that make up the group known as "The Breezy Islands."

The 426-square-mile island has the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. It's 1,400 miles from Miami and has a mean temperature of 79 degrees.

Martinique is home to a number of natural attractions, including the two peaks of Carbet and Mount Pelee — a dormant volcano spanning 4,586 vertical feet. The island also is home to a tropical rain forest, the majestic Lamentin Plain and the beautiful Les Salines Beach.

Visitors to Martinique shop for indigenous art, as well as fine clothing and wares. The island also has a number of fine restaurants and luxury hotels. The island's events and street festivals provide a taste of its culture and hospitality.

Staying in Martinique

The island recently added three, 3-star, all-inclusive resorts to its already impressive list of accommodations.

The Villa Coloniale guesthouse offers distinguished service in a quiet setting.

The three-star Baie du Galion Resort sits on the top of a quaint hill, facing the ocean. The Diamond Rock hotel is in the south of Martinique, an area known for its white-sand beaches.

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