Want to feel like you're in Paris but still be on tropical shores? Then Martinique is the best place for you to visit, as this French department meets all requirements for your Caribbean yacht charter. From the port Le Marin you can set sail north or southward to explore the long arc of the Caribbean Antilles.
Martinique is an overseas department of France, Sea, in between Dominica to the North and Saint Lucia in the South. Being part of the Lesser Antilles, the island is a hot spot for touristic activities which also include yacht charter, an activity widely practiced in the Caribbean.
The island’s relief is dominated by the now dormant volcano of Mount Pelee. It is divided into two different parts: the south side of the island with its numerous sandy beaches and the less frequented north side with rainforests and black beaches.
Historically, the island was inhabited by Arawak and Carib peoples very early on but it didn’t come to Western attention until Christopher Columbus sighted it for the first time in 1493. He didn’t land there until 1502 however, during his fourth trip. The French took over in 1635 and intensified the sugar cane, manioc and potato trade. In 1946 the colony was transformed into a department of France and that essentially makes it a part of the country.
Because sailing is held in such high regard here on the island, you’ll find lots of ports all along the coast, perfect to get your yacht charter holiday started. Some of the best places to visit are the capital Fort-de-France, Le Diamant (a beach town near the famous Diamond Rock), Le Marin (the main harbour of the island), Sainte-Anne (most appealing town to tourists for its white sand beaches) and Saint-Pierre (the former capital destroyed by the volcano which still hold lots of historic buildings).
Most visitors who’ve been here on a sailing holiday before say Martinique´s cities could almost pass for French ones as there is really not much difference to the elegance and sophistication of the main country other than the tropical palm trees and the perfectly white beaches.
Since Martinique is a department of France, it is only natural that French law is enforced. What that means for most tourists coming here on a boat rental from Europe is that it will be much easier to cope with the local laws. Essentially, Martinique is part of the European Union and it abides to the same laws and rules as other countries in the EU.
A proof of previous sailing experience will be necessary when chartering any boat, unless it’s a skippered or crewed boat. If you already have a license issued by a European state, then you should have no problem obtaining a local equivalent from the port authority. Depending on the charter company you choose, you might be able to get that in advance if you provide the necessary paperwork.
The same French rules apply to visa and entry in the country itself. A simple translation would be that citizens of all EU countries as well as American ones don’t even need a passport to enter Martinique, but what they do need is a return ticket. A passport is required for British, Canadian and Australian nationals as well as all other foreign nationals.
All travel visas issued are valid for a period of 90 days, except for Australian tourists which are only allowed a one-month stay in Martinique. EU nationals are not required to get a long stay visa even for trips that exceed the 90 day period which means that you can extend your charter holiday as long as you like.