Sail in Paradise – explore Martinique and Saint Lucia
Do you often dream about the Caribbean climate with unsurpassed landscapes? Work tirelessly for that well deserved end of year break? Then this blog was written for you.
The Caribbean is a paradise for any sailor. The conditions for sailing are ideal, with constant winds (Alisios) blowing usually at 15 knots and with temperatures close to 30º throughout the year. You will also find that the water is at an ideal temperature all year round at around 26º, thanks to its eternal sun. It is a pleasure to bathe in its crystalline waters and relax, but if you desire to seek adventure, you can also practice aquatic activities surrounded by a fascinating landscape.
This destination is especially attractive for sailing as the proximity between the islands allow short hops between lagoons taking just a few hours. There are a large number of islands with many unique and fascinating features, which you can visit by boat. Discover all that the Caribbean can offer you, without doubt, you will be astonished.
Here we propose a route around the French island of Martinique with a visit to its neighbouring island Saint Lucia.
To rent a sailboat or a catamaran there, it is not necessary to have a license but you will need to provide a Nautical Curriculum (as in France). This means that you will have to present in writing, a summary of all your nautical experiences. If this experience is considered sufficient by the owner, you can board any boat, regardless of the length.
Before beginning this route…
To clarify that one of the peculiarities that occurs within the Caribbean and its surrounding islands, is that they belong to several countries. Therefore, every time you leave and/or enter a different island it is important to take into account the customs formalities.
If you decide to anchor overnight without having to tread solid ground, these procedures are not necessary. The only requirement is to raise a yellow flag, so that they recognize, and know that you are in transit.
Below you will find a very interesting 10 day sailing route, which accepts many variations due to the number of beaches and ports near the route.
Day 1: Marina du Marin, Martinique to Sainte Anne, Martinique (5.4 nm)
Day 1 of your sailing trip will start in the largest nautical base in the Caribbean, Marina du Marin, Martinique. It is just a 45 minute drive from the airport and therefore easily accessible straight after you land. Due to the large proximity of the marina, it has a lively atmosphere and holds countless boats. Here you will find an abundance of restaurants, leisure activities, services and shopping. This is the perfect place to stock up on any necessities ready for your two week charter.
After a morning at base preparing for your voyage, you can set sail on a short hop to Sainte Anne. This is a great place to anchor, as the shallow water provides a good holding. Sainte Anne covers the whole area below the beach off the resort Club Med Les Boucaniers, making it a great place to spend your first evening.
Day 2: Sainte Anne, Martinique to Baie des Anglais, Martinique (5.4 nm)
Day 2 will begin by exploring the wonderful Sainte Anne. If you’re lucky to be here around the Christmas period, you will be welcomed by Creole carols, roast suckling pig and a live nativity. Have a delicious breakfast at Basilic Beach and spend a few hours enjoying the glorious view whilst you listen to the waves crash amongst the rocks. Next, we highly recommend a visit to the world-famous Sainte Anne Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary is the most important in the Caribbean for native nesting birds. Here you will also notice fascinating mangroves amongst you.
Sainte Anne itself is in fact a designated national park filled with wonderful hikes both inland and along the coast with spectacular views. After a long or short hike, have a walk into the extraordinarily pretty town of Sainte Anne. Let your eyes drift from its tall steepled church to the colourful Creole houses around you.
A large percentage of the local population here like to fish, and therefore the French influence in Sainte Anne means that you can have high expectations of the seafood here, perfect for a late lunch! We highly recommend the Acras de Morue (spicy cod balls) which are a Creole menu staple. For those of you who live on the adventurous side of cuisine, you may want to sample the local specialities of lambis (conch) and Creole boudin made from pig’s blood.
After a lovely day in Sainte Anne, head back to your boat and head into the tradewinds for the East Coast of Martinique. Moor at an attractive cove called the Baie des Anglais, which is just a short hop sail of 2 hours. This particular bay is what you may call ‘out-of-the-way.’ It is mainly sheltered due to a coral reef, classed as a natural reserve. You will find that the local fishermen here are wonderfully accommodating and only too happy to set up a lobster barbecue on the beach for visitors. Spend your evening here enjoying the atmosphere and absorb the true Caribbean vibes.
Day 3: Baie des Anglais, Martinique to Llets du Fancois, Martinique (14.57nm)
Start your day 3 by having a relaxing few hours in the bay of Baie des Anglais, before heading north along the Martinique coastline. The scenery here is picture perfect and magnificently unspoiled. Make sure you take advantage of this prime opportunity to stop for an instagram shot and tag @Nautalcom as we love to follow your adventures. Here you will also notice the seashore is lined with beautiful sandy beaches and coconut palms. As you approach Llets du Francois and the oh-so-famous Baignoire de Joséphine, take a dip in the 29° water, before sinking your toes into the powder-white sand on the beach. This place can only be described as a true paradise.
In the afternoon, grab a spot of lunch and rent kayaks. You can do this for just a small cost on the island and floating on the serene water is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Alternatively, if you crave a slightly less relaxing afternoon make sure you visit Paintball Island. This place is seriously fun with a 5* rating, perfect for families or a group of friends!
If pizza is your thing then enjoy your evening meal at L’Italien. The food is simply scrumptious. End your evening with a couple of drinks before hitting the hay.
Day 4: Llets du Francois, Martinique to Havre du Robert, Martinique (3.9nm)
On day 4 make sure you spend a little time exploring Llets du Francois for the last time, and squeeze in any activities you may have not had time for the previous day. Enjoy a spot of lunch at La Ferme des Orchidées au Francois, and set sail for the Havre du Robert. En route you will cruise past the little quaint island of Loup Gaou. This deserted island is picture-postcard perfect with just 3 palm trees and coral pink sand. Anchor here for a few hours and enjoy the true stillness of this island.
When you arrive close to the Baie du Robert, you will have a choice of 2 anchorages. Ilet Madame is a sheltered isle, inhabited by only iguanes. Ilet Chance is your other option. This anchorage is special as it is covered in a mangrove swamp, inhabited by iguanas and resembles a luscious green paradise, with misshapen ancient brickworks, giving an atmosphere that you have gone back in time.
Beware of the coral on the inner part of the harbour when mooring here. If you need to top up on fuel it is possible in the south west. Take some time to explore the market here, where you will find french delicacies and some provisions.
Enjoy a quiet tranquil evening here on board your boat, appreciating the stillness and glistening stars above, before a big day of activities and sailing the following morning.
Day 5: Havre du Robert, Martinique a stop at Baie aux Trésors, Martinique and onto Tartane, Martinique (19.37nm)
Get ready for a change of scenery on day 5 of your sailing experience. An hours sail from Havre du Robert you will embark upon the glorious Baie aux Trésors, a new nature reserve situated at the tip of the point of La Caravelle. As soon as you enter this place you feel a sense of magic and adventure. Here lie the ruins of the Dubuc castle where a 17th century colony was supposed to have kept their hidden treasures. Maybe the children amongst the crew would enjoy spending the day hunting for them.
Next you will sail for 3 hours to Tartane. The moorings here are calm yet there is a lively atmosphere. Tartane is renowned for its fishing, but even more for its surf! The waves here are the best, so if you love to ride the waves then visiting here is an absolute must. In addition to this, there is spectacular scenery all around and therefore a great place to relax with a good book, absorb the Caribbean atmosphere and watch the surfers.
If you get the chance, be sure to take a stroll and appreciate the true beauty of the rich flora and fauna that the island has to offer, not to mention the panoramic views over the windward coast of Martinique.
Day 6: Tartane, Martinique to Saint-Pierre, Martinique (30.61nm)
Day 6 is going to be the most scenic of days. Sailing along the Martinique coastline will truly catch your eye with stunning panoramic views around you. As you sail towards Saint-Pierre you will cruise along the canal which separates Martinique from the Dominican Republic, with its various mesmerising landscapes. The tradewind is sure to drive you along for a 5 hour sail. As you approach Saint-Pierre you will instantly notice its wide sandy beach, and beautiful village located at the foot of the Pelée Mountain.
Today this village has no more than 7500 inhabitants as the eruption of the volcano in 1902 wiped out the whole population. The only survivor was a prisoner called Cyparis, who owed his life to the thickness of his cell wall. Three parallel streets now represent the essence of what is left of the pristine ruins of this town.
You have many options to choose from in the this town. If you prefer to explore by foot then be sure to explore the Volcanological Museum which portrays an exhibition of relics of the catastrophe. Make sure you also head to the beach and sink your toes into the black sand. This place really is something else.
Saint-Pierre is a great place to snorkel or scuba dive. In addition to the constantly warm water, you can also cruise a couple hundred yards off shore to see more than 10 shipwrecks just below the surface.
After a fun filled day, treat yourself to some fine dining at La Table de Mamy Nounou.
Day 7: Saint-Pierre, Martinique to Les Anses-d’Arlet, Martinique (20nm)
As you’re now on the Leeward side of the island, day 7 will take you along sea as calm as millpond sea. Sail for 4 hours towards Les Anses-d’Arlet and of course once again, you’re bound to enjoy your surroundings on the way. Once you have grabbed a mooring buoy be sure to admire the gorgeous stretch of sand in front of the Anse dÁrlet Bourg. From the sea, a stunning 18th-century steeple church dominates the shore. You will notice this attractive fishing village has kept its sense of authenticity, with its colourful boats pulled up on the beach and its Creole houses. This is by far one of the best places to swim in Martinique.
For lunch, take a stroll further down the street, Anse d’Arlet has many beach restaurants and bars to offer. Here it is rarely difficult to find the perfect spot on this inviting paradisiac golden sand.
After lunch, take advantage of this dream site for underwater diving. As soon as you cast your eyes on these crystal clear waters, you won’t be able to resist the urge to dive straight in. If you’re lucky enough to own an underwater camera, this is the perfect spot to capture amazing shots of corals, starfish and other tropical fish. Turtles are also frequent visitors in this area.
Spend the evening catching up with your fellow sailors, sharing tales of the sea (over a cocktail or two) at the both atmospheric and picturesque Ti Sable.
Day 8: Les Anses-d’Arlet, Martinique to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia (30nm)
Day 8 is the day you will finally leave Martinique to explore the glorious island of Saint Lucia. Rodney Bay is the first place you will sail to and you’re in for a treat. Just north of Choc Bay, Rodney bay is along the Northwestern Coast of the island. The name was given to this place after a British naval officer George Brydges Rodney.
Rodney Bay Marina is the marina of all marinas. Here there is space for many boats with all the amenities you could ever desire on your sailing trip. Once you have a spot and you’re settled, be sure to take a stroll around the marina whilst drooling over the spectacular yachts surrounding you. If you’re lucky enough to be here in December you might stumble upon the arrival of the ARC. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is a challenging sailing event that begins in Spain’s Canary Islands and terminates at Saint Lucia’s Rodney Bay Marina. This amazing 2700 nautical mile voyage is undertaken by more than 230 vessels and 1200 people each year. Saint Lucia also has its own festivals throughout the year.
Indulge all day…
Spend the afternoon making the most of the tax-free prices on a wide variety of famous brands and speciality stores. Saint Lucia’s only casino is located upstairs in the Baywalk Shopping Mall and offers all the excitement you might anticipate, along with regular entertainment.
If spas are your thing then you are absolutely spoilt for choice at Rodney Bay. They are located along the beachfront as well as any tiny zen hideaway. After a lovely relaxing afternoon, be sure to check out the large array of cuisine offered here, there is so much choice from barbecue, to Mexican, to Chinese, something is bound to tickle your taste buds.
As dusk rolls in and the dark begins to loom, Rodney Bay itself lights up and comes to life. Late night bars and clubs are filled with a busy mix of locals and visitors, so if you fancy digging out your dancing shoes then this is the place to do it. There are many regular karaoke and live music nights at various venues, and a lot of the music is uptempo soca and cool reggae.
Day 9: Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia to Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia (10nm)
Day 9 consists of just a short sail over to the wonderful Marigot Bay, also situated on Saint Lucia. After a big breakfast in Rodney Bay, head further along the Western Coast. Hugged by rainforest clad hills, here you will find a picture postcard creek with white sand, coconut trees and mangroves… A real paradise right? Its reputation provides a very popular anchorage, despite its limited waters.
The marina has 40 berths, and is an official port of entry, immigration and customs is usually a breezy affair. It is the perfect place to refill your tank as its duty free fuel is a trademark of offerings. Step off the boat into a quaint and intimate local of Capella. There is an abundance of bars and restaurants serving to-die-for cuisine. Marigot Bay is a playground for the rich and famous, so keep your eyes peeled for a mystery person with dark glasses and a floppy hat.
If you’re lucky enough to spend a Friday evening here, jump in a taxi to the south of Marigot. Each week they put on a great street party called ‘Jump Up’. Here you will find stalls selling barbecued fish and chicken, whelks and crabmeat, potent rum brews, and bottles of Pilton beer chilled in giant coolers. It’s a great way to make friends as it has large communal tables for socialising. There are also giant speakers with the sounds of Caribbean beats. Here, crowds gather to watch local exhibitionists strutt their stuff.
Alternatively, if you prefer to have a more sophisticated kind of evening, we highly suggest you try either ‘The Hurricane Hole’ or ‘Chateau Mygo’. The Hurricane Hole is a very chic bar/restaurant popular with the yachting crowd. Chateau Mygo can be found on the large pontoon of the entry channel.
Day 10: your last day in paradise
Day 10 is unfortunately the last day of your voyage. However don’t be sad! You still have a very scenic route to take you back to the beautiful Marina du Marin. Feel that breeze in your hair and thoroughly enjoy your last full day of sailing. We hope you had a great week and have taken away many magical memories to last a lifetime.
Don’t forget to update us on your journeys and leave a comment below!
Alternatively if you would like to shorten or extend your trip, check out our 7-day sailing route in Martinique or our 14-day sailing route in the Windward Islands; Martinique, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent!
Until your next voyage…