Can't decide between a romantic European sojourn or a palm tree bedecked respite? On Martinique, you can have both. This French island in the Lesser Antilles has all the romance of Paris, yet is surrounded by azure waters and soft sandy beaches. Lending to its lovely allure, Martinique is also the birthplace of Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, Napoleon's empress, and features some of the most stunning architecture and finest cuisine in the Caribbean.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Creole, French, English
11 hours from NYC, 13 hours from LA
When To Go: Martinique at its best
The average temperature is 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while the trade winds afford a five-degree difference between summer and winter.
July to November
Why To Go
Get a history lesson:
Skip the beaches for a day in favor of a leisure walk around Fort-de-France. The centerpiece of the island's capital is the Biblitheque Schoeler, a dramatic display of Romanesque-Byzantine architecture built for the Paris Exhibition in 1889. Once you're done, you can hop a ferry to the Musee de la Pagerie, which stands on the lush grounds where Empress Josephine's home once stood, and houses many artifacts and mementos from her life here.
Eat and Drink:
With its French influence and Caribbean location, Martinique chefs have become expert in the fusion of French-Creole cuisine. Fresh fish such as red snapper, kingfish and langouste blend with Creole spices for a heady dish. The chefs also like to play with tropical fruits and vegetables like guava and plantains to add exotic flair and flavor. If it's your thirst you're looking to quench, stop by the St. James Distillery, where you can sample some of the best rum in the world.
Hit the beach:
Though the charm of Martinique can be found in its villages, parks, and gardens, the coastline is just as pleasant -- this is, after all, and island in the Caribbean. And along with its pristine beaches, you'll find plenty of opportunities to do the requisite windsurfing, scuba diving, swimming, or, if none of that appeals to your senses, simply spend the day working on your tan.