Watch 'ESSENCE Escapes': A Visit To Martinique Is The Caribbean Girls Trip You’ve Been Waiting On

ESSENCE Escapes takes you inside a girls trip to the French island to explore the history, cuisine and culture.
Charli Penn Jan, 18, 2019

There’s nothing like escaping from your daily routine to find the blissful beaches and fun-loving vibes the Caribbean offers, especially with your girls. If you’re in search of the perfect blend of culture, cuisine and self-care, consider the French island of Martinique for your next adventure. Martinique, which is part of the Lesser Antilles, is an overseas region of France that boasts both French and West Indian influences to enjoy. With more nonstop flights from the East Coast heading to the Island (Norwegian Air recently launched direct routes from Boston, New York City and Fort Lauderdale), Martinique is becoming increasingly more popular with tourists in search of a fresh spin on a typical Caribbean getaway.

Courtesy of Charli Penn (@charlipenn)

Martinique’s expanded excursion offerings provide a full menu of fun for you and the girls, complete with breathtaking beaches (like the popular Les Salines) to bask in your melanin glow, luxury boutique hotels with Instagram-worthy photo opps (Villa Apolline), and five stars restaurants and bars with fresh seafood and fancy French dinners (Le Zanzibar). In Martinique, they’re serious about their rum—and their rum tastings. Visit the Habitation Clément, the birthplace of Rhum Agricole, and explore the island’s spirited history while you taste your way through the tour around the old distillery and the Creole plantation.

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For the outdoor enthusiast or adventure seeker in your squad, Martinique is one of the Caribbean’s top eco destination and home to world-famous canyoning, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and a host of other thrilling water sports and hiking trails. If the plan is to rest and recharge to the calming soundtrack of nature, you’ll find spectacular villas to rent on the island on sites like HomeAway and a self care oasis at Black-owned Eden Paradise Spa Ecolodge, where the views from the pool will take your breath away. (You’ll want to just lounge there and stay all day!)

While the island’s natural beauty provides the perfect backdrop for those straight-to-Instagram photo shoots we know you’re planning, Martinique is as rich in history as it is in wonder, especially for Black women looking to better understand the plight of their ancestors who first arrived in the Caribbean on slave shapes. The Anse Cafard Slave Memorial is a moving tribute to a group of would-be-slaves whose lives were lost at sea when the ship that was sneaking them onto the island sank in the night off the coast of Le Diamant. The memorial is comprised of 20 harrowing statues of figures, with their shoulders hunched, that each stand 8-feet tall and together face the ocean looking toward the homes they were taken from. To get a better understanding of what life was like for those slaves brought to Martinique during slavery and after it was abolished, pay a visit to La Savane des Esclaves. One of the top three museums on the island, there you’ll find a replica of the post-abolition slave communities in Martinique and a chance to tour the true-to-size living quarters (huts) the slaves lived in and a Creole medicinal garden.

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Come for the culture, stay for the peace and capture the memories in Martinique. In the premiere of ESSENCE Escapes, ESSENCE Lifestyle Director Charli Penn takes your inside Martinique.