New York, New York, USA (June 13, 2007) – The NBA and NHL seasons are fast drawing to a close, the NFL season is still months away and Major League Baseball is mired in the “dog days of summer.” For US sports enthusiasts, the timing couldn’t be better to head to Martinique to celebrate the joie du jeu (joy of sports).
With its wonderful weather and average daily temperatures in the mid- to high 80s, Martinique is an idyllic sporting playground year round. And during the summer and fall months, the action really heats up as major annual spectator events combine with the island’s wealth of sporting attractions catering to active travellers, validating Martinique’s position as a primary sporting capital of the Caribbean.
28TH ANNUAL TOUR DE LA MARTINIQUE – JULY 9-17, 2007
A smaller version of the famed Tour de France, this week-long race runs over eight stages that wind throughout the entire island. Time trials set the stage for the event on the first day with the actual first stage originating in the capital city of Fort de France. Residents and visitors alike line the roads to cheer on the riders as they race through picturesque seaside fishing villages, mountain towns and rain forests, skirting the island’s vast acres of banana, sugarcane and coffee plantations along the way. This is a truly international event with past winners hailing from Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Cuba, Switzerland and Venezuela.
23RD ANNUAL YAWL BOAT RACE – JULY 29–AUGUST 5, 2007
Carnival is to the Caribbean as fish are to the sea – one simply cannot exist without the other. In Martinique, the analogy is taken a step further as carnival and the sea are brought together for a celebration unlike any other, the famed Yawl Boat Race. A week-long event held each summer, the Yawl Boat Race literally encircles Martinique with a boundless spirit and joy born of pulsating rhythms, prodigious libations and non-stop parties.
The race features yawls, classic canoe-like wooden vessels with rounded keels that are the traditional sailing vessels of the island’s fishermen. Departing initially from the capital city of Fort de France, the race continues around the island in seven stages. Huge throngs of locals and visitors crowd the shores to cheer on the racers, with carnival-style celebrations punctuating each day’s victory. The carnival atmosphere surrounding the Yawl Race extends to the sea where a flotilla of yachts, catamarans, speedboats and other private vessels trail the racers, celebrating along the way. Whether experienced on land or by sea, the Yawl Boat Race is a uniquely Martiniquan take on traditional Caribbean carnival that is not to be missed.
INTERNATIONAL FISHING TOURNAMENT – OCTOBER 10-13, 2007
Widely recognized as one of the Caribbean’s premiere ports of call for private and charter yachts, sailboats and sport fishing vessels, the town of Le Marin hosts this three-day competitive tournament. More than 200 fishermen from 18 countries aboard 50 boats are expected to participate in this year’s event showcasing the best in Martiniquan sport fishing.
23RD INTERNATIONAL HALF MARATHON – NOVEMBER 25, 2007
More than 3000 competitors from around the world are expected to compete in this year’s International Half Marathon. The event takes place in the capital city Fort de France, adding extra energy and excitement to this already lively Caribbean city that embodies the best of Paris in its art galleries, museums, theaters and shops, which sell the latest goods from France.
Travellers who prefer to take part in the action can participate in the events listed above, or satisfy their personal thirst for competition by taking part in Martinique’s wide range of sporting attractions.
BOATING & SPORT FISHING
Blessed with several wonderful ports, a number of small satellite islands (some with restaurants open to the public) and teeming offshore fishing grounds, Martinique is a boating and sport fishing lover’s paradise.
Bareboat or crewed charters can be arranged on an hourly, daily or weekly basis through select resorts and hotels, as well as at marinas located in Le Marin, Le François, Pointe du Bout, Le Robert or Ste-Anne. Sport fishing enthusiasts can expect to reel in dolphin, barracuda, kingfish, bonito and tuna.
Visitors to Martinique can enjoy their own personal Tour de la Martinique by renting a bike through Sud Loisirs in Sainte Anne (tel (596) 596 76 81 82); Locabikes in Fort de France (tel (596) 596 63 33 05; or Blue Monday in Diamant (tel (596) 596 76 18 80).
Guided tours can also be arranged through V T Tilt’ in Trois-Ilets (tel (596) 596 66 01 01) and Parc Naturel Régional in Fort de France (tel (596) 596 64 42 59).
Located just across the Bay of Fort de France near the seaside enclave of Trois-Ilets lays Martinique’s signature and singular golf course. Known as the Empress Josephine Course due to its close proximity to the birthplace of Martinique’s famous daughter and Napoleon’s wife, the 18-hole 6,640-yard par 71 course was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr more than 20 years ago. Meticulous care has enabled the course to retain its original grandeur. Recent enhancements include a David Leadbetter Golf Academy providing personalized training, adding to the quality of the golf experience. For more information, call (596) 596 68 32 81.
SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELLING
Martinique’s undersea wonders rival its land-based natural attractions in terms of beauty, diversity and uniqueness. Here, ideal water temperatures, shipwrecks and historic sites combine to create sublime diving and snorkelling adventures.
Among the more notable dive sites is Diamond Rock, a 570 foot basalt island located south of Fort de France that was once fortified by the British Navy and used as a man of war. A deep triangular undersea cavern extends beneath Diamond Rock, making for a memorable dive. Other prime dive spots include the shipwrecks off the coast of St Pierre dating back to the 1902 eruption of Mt Pelée.
Dive operators abound throughout the island, and excursions can be booked through nearly all hotels and resorts. Tennis, squash, windsurfing, kayaking, horseback riding and more are also available through hotels and ground operators throughout Martinique.
A true sportsman’s paradise, Martinique offers something for the competitor in everyone.
“A Little Bit of France in the Caribbean,” “The Isle of Flowers,” “The Rum Capital of the World” – by any one of its many names, Martinique remains one of the most alluring and enchanting destinations in the world, as unforgettable as a summer romance or a first kiss. Martinique is an overseas region of France, and in keeping with traditional French flair, this vibrant island stirs the passions with awe-inspiring natural beauty, a rich cultural history, distinctive culinary delights, warm smiles and so much more. Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, was born and raised here. “The Pompeii of the Caribbean,” St Pierre, is found here. The finest French products, from Chanel fashions to Limoges porcelain, are readily available here. La Route des Rhums, a tour of the world’s finest rum distilleries based on France’s famed Route des Vins, is offered here. A special place, to be sure, with so much to offer – Martinique, c’est magnifique!
For more information on Martinique, contact the Martinique Promotion Bureau in New York at (212) 838-6887 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
For your FREE on-line Martinique travel guide, visit www.caribbean.com.
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