Foodies Will Love This Beautiful French Caribbean Island

If you dream of a tropical vacation destination that's as rich in scenery and history as it is in flavor and fun, then the French Caribbean island of Martinique promises to inspire. When you travel to Martinique, you can count on warm weather year-round thanks to the island's location between the Caribbean Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Martinique is a destination that calls to adventure lovers and relaxation seekers alike with its stunning under-the-radar beaches, amazing waves, lush forests, and beautiful waterfalls.

Beyond the breathtaking landscapes waiting to be discovered, the island's history lends itself to a plethora of fantastic food options. It's not difficult to find mouthwatering moments here that infuse French fare, African cuisine, and Caribbean traditional dishes into innovative menus. Martinique hosts just over 360,000 year-round residents; but despite its quaint size, this West Indies island boasts a rich and diverse cultural heritage and history dating back as far as the 5th century BCE.

Today, the effects of exploration, colonialism, and migration to, from, and across Martinique are still evident in the combination of ingredients and the wide array of flavors found at local eateries. From traditional dishes to new takes on old favorites, there's never a boring culinary moment to experience. Whether you try it all or stick to a few dishes you come to love, foodies are in for a treat whenever they find themselves in Martinique.

Try traditional dishes and top eateries

A great culinary place to begin in Martinique is with some of the traditional island dishes. You can expect many of these plates to pair local vegetables, seafood, fruits, and meats. Colombo is a great example because it's both the name of a fan-favorite Martinique dish and a signature seasoning you can enjoy during your island visit. This bold blend of chili pepper, bay leaf, coriander, turmeric, brown mustard seed, black peppercorn, and thyme is often infused into a lamb curry with coconut milk and ginger included. Some dishes pair Colombo seasoning with goat, pork, and chicken platters.

Boudin is another local dish with Creole roots that's served as a bacon-based sausage. There's a version of Boudin served here known as Boudin Blanc that's produced using a combination of local prawns, crabs, sea snails, and fish. Cod fritters (Accra) can also be enjoyed alongside conch, stuffed crabs (Matoutou), and Poulet Boucané which is ideal for anyone with a passion for barbeque chicken.

For something more upscale, French fine-dining experiences are well within reach when you visit Martinique. La Mandoline Restaurant is a French and Creole fusion eatery where it's as easy to order up spiced quinoa and a lobster wrap as it is to enjoy roasted duck and foie gras. If you're looking for something sweet, you can easily top off a lamb and beef tenderloin at Zanzibar Restaurant with a French dessert like a raspberry coulis.

Leave room for rum, festivals, and cooking classes

Food and flavor enthusiasts visiting Martinique will find just as much to enjoy in the way of beverages. Here, it seems just about every plate you order up could be well-paired with a glass of locally produced rum. Martinique rum is one-of-a-kind and renowned across the globe for its premium flavor profile.

The difference starts with the fresh-pressed sugarcane used to create Martinique rum that grows exclusively in local volcanic soil and provides a unique flavor. Martinique rum is also column distilled, which enhances the fragrance of the final product. Before it's ever served up, Martinique rum undergoes a strict aging process in French oak barrels, which lend themselves to a delightful vanilla undertone. Trying a glass or two is a must when you find yourself enjoying time on Martinique.

If you're visiting Martinique around mid-May, you'll be right on time to participate in one of the island's beloved food festivals known as Sainte-Marie Gastronomic Week. This celebration of Martinique's heritage and fantastic fare is a great opportunity to gather with local chefs, enjoy cooking demonstrations, and of course, sample plenty of food along the way. If all of that indulging has you longing to put your own chef skills to work, then your food-focused journey to Martinique should definitely include a cooking class. Local chef Prisca Marjon operates a Creole cooking workshop by the same name where you can hone your island cooking skills alongside a professional.