Set in the heart of the eastern Caribbean Sea, Martinique is one of the most stunning island in the Lesser Antilles, blending the allure of a tropical paradise with a frisson of French flavour. Visitors can’t help but be enchanted with its pristine white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and cultural heritage. Yet, when arriving in Martinique, one characteristic immediately arrests the eye and asserts itself over all others: the resplendent green spaces that cover nearly every inch of the island’s rolling hills.
Widely recognized as “The Island of Flowers,” Martinique is an ideal destination for nature lovers who enjoy botanical gardens, lush rainforests, and awe-inspiring mountains. Stepping into the island’s tropical climate, the abundant rainfall and fertile volcanic soil provide the perfect environment for a flourishing and diverse flora. With a symphony of colours and fragrances embracing you as soon as you arrive on the island, every getaway to Martinique should begin and end with an appreciation for its unsurpassed natural beauty.
What’s in a Name?
First, a quick history lesson! The Island of Martinique originally earned its title, “The Island of Flowers” (L’Ile aux Fleurs), as a reflection of its traditional name “Madinina,” translating to “flower island” in the local Creole language. The name was well-chosen: Martinique continues to be adorned by a variety of blossoms, including Flame Trees, Frangipani, Birds of Paradise, Hibiscus, Oleander, Ginger Torch, Bougainvillea, and Orchids, to name only a few. With their vibrant colors and sweet fragrances, these exquisite flowers enhance the island’s reputation as a haven of natural and untouched beauty, justifying its deserving designation as the “Island of Flowers.”
Housing over 3,000 species of flowers to be exact, including 1,220 indigenous plants, Martinique showcases unspoiled Caribbean beauty. The island’s scenery encourages visitors to get up close and personal with Martinique’s stunning biodiversity. One of the joys of visiting Martinique is setting your own itinerary and discovering its green spaces on your own terms. To get you started, here are two must-visit gardens that will leave you mesmerized and longing for more.
The Jardin de Balata
Jardin de Balata is a true botanical gem that entices visitors to explore its rich and diverse landscapes. In 1982, Jean-Philippe Thoze, a horticulturist and landscape designer, embarked on a journey retracing the footsteps of his childhood inspired by his Creole grandparents. The garden, built around an authentic Creole home, was inspired by his love for history and poetry. His creation perfectly blends the idea of a “back-to-childhood” experience with his one-of-a-kind artistic vision.
Although the main focal point of the garden is the traditional Creole house, which proudly stands at its center, it also offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding ocean, beautiful jungles, and mature palm trees. Adding to the allure of this picturesque architectural backdrop, the botanical garden allows visitors to climb the treetops and walk among towering mahogany trees on suspended bridges more than 15 meters high. Rising above the island, see the magnificent view over the Bay of Fort-de-France and the Pitons du Carbet.
Le Jardin De La Montagne
Welcome to Le Jardin de la Montagne, affectionately known as “Chez Babo.” This enchanting garden is nestled on the Montagne du Vauclin. Its unique climate offers a sanctuary for a diverse collection of flower species, making it a can’t-miss site for horticulturalists and lovers of fresh fragrances. It’s easy to get lost in the charms of this authentic Creole garden, meticulously cultivated by locals who hold this place near and dear to their hearts.
As you wander through this magnificent garden with a knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll have the opportunity to admire many stunning flowers. Discover the elegance of Begonias and the vibrant hues of Bougainvilleas. From here, you can also marvel at the exotic charm of Bromeliads, the artistic patterns of Coleus, the graceful presence of Cordylines, and the striking blooms of Crossandras. With many more alluring flowers to grace your eyes, each step will unveil a new floral wonder, leaving you inspired by nature’s boundless beauty.