As temperatures plummet in the northern hemisphere and rivers and lakes freeze over, the ergometer seems the only rowing choice through the next few dark months. It is not. Picture the perfect winter rowing vacation. Imagine rowing on water that is impossibly blue not to mention warm, past lush tropical forests, and landing on white sand beaches a short walk to a refreshing coconut drink or maybe a rum punch. Welcome to Martinique in the French Antilles. When Christopher Columbus landed here in 1502, the native population called it Madinina, the island of flowers. Lots has changed since Columbus lavished praise on the scenery, but a constant is its beauty, and of course flowers. Our tour takes us to some of the famous communities, beaches and sights of the island. But we will also explore a bit more off the beaten path, to experience some of the loveliest but lesser known parts of this gorgeous island. There is so much to do and we will pack a lot into the week. But time for relaxation too. And then there is rowing! Enjoy tropical splendor with French finesse.
As an island in the Caribbean, coastal is the obvious form of rowing, although fine boats can be found. We will use coastal boats, especially coxed quads, to explore three different sections of the coastline: the Caribbean Sea in the north of the island, the Saint Lucia Channel at the southern end of the island, and the eastern shore facing the Atlantic Ocean. Of course safety is a priority for every rowing vacation and final destinations will depend on wind, weather and water conditions. But if you love coastal rowing, you’ll appreciate what opportunities it opens up for exploring and enjoying beautiful seascapes. The adventure also continues on land. We will be participating in the 3rd annual Rando-Bivouac for three days, which involves tenting and sleeping in a hammock (or other bedding). A Créole proverb says “Ceux qui sont installés dans un hamac ne connaissent pas la longeueur de la route”. We think that sounds just fine for a holiday. We will also stay in boutique hotels and a resort, to round out the experience of a winter rowing vacation.
Non-rowing companions welcomed. Please contact us for the details – we are happy to answer your questions.
|Daily Distances||Boats||Group Size|
|10 – 25 km per day.||Coxed coastal quads.||Minimum 5 rowers. Maximum 12 rowers.|
8 days/7 nights with up to five days of rowing
Note that is itinerary is subject to change. Many variables will affect the rowing, especially water conditions and weather.
Arrival in Fort-de-France. Settle into your boutique hotel in the centre of town. Stroll the streets to feel the warmth and vibe of the Caribbean. Welcome dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to Le Robert on the eastern coast of the island. Initially we will row the northern edge of the bay, exploring the series of little islands including the charmingly named Petite Martinique. Les charmingly named l’ îlet aux Rats is perhaps better appreciated for its reefs. Our initial destination is l’îlet Chancel with its iguana reserve protecting a rare species now in the Caribbean. After lunch we follow the coast to row toward the community of François, where we will camp for two nights. Our local hosts are eager for us to appreciate the local culture, including food, drink and music with a fire on the beach.
. It might be hard to pry ourselves out of the hammocks, but there is more rowing to enjoy. Continuing to head south, our initial destination is Vauclin. On the way we will row past numerous reefs and “fonds blancs”, which are like a sand bank swimming pool in the sea! Back on the main island, we will leave the boats by the beautiful stream with emerald waters named Trou Cochon. A short walk takes us to the Pointe du Vauclin. After a full day, we will be happy to be transferred back to our hammocks in the late afternoon.
Our final day of rowing on this side of the island takes us back north, visiting the little island of Le François, the famous baignoire Josephine. According to legend, this is the favourite bathing place for Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoléan 1st. If that isn’t already enough spectacular tropical scenery, we will next row to to the protected marine trail of l’îlet Thierry, with its coral reefs. Finally, back to our base in Le Robert, before a transfer across the island to St. Pierre.
Wake up in the morning to a view looking onto the Caribbean Sea. Today we will explore the north-western sector of Martinique. With its rugged and mountainous scenery and fewer beaches, this region is pleasantly empty of resorts and associated tourists. Following a relaxed breakfast we will enjoy a day of touring as a break from rowing. If the weather is clear, we might head to the premier walking destination of the island, Mont Pelée, which is the highest point on the island and often wrapped in clouds. In that case, there are other walking opportunities. Maybe we will follow the road north to where it dead ends at Grand Rivière, a remote fishing communities with Mont Pelée in the backdrop and views towards Dominica. In the afternoon, it is time for a stop at one of the many rum distilleries perhaps Rhum JM at Macouba or Distillerie Depaz, closer to St. Pierre. We will be sure to leave time to explore our home base. Originally the capital of Martinique, it was largely destroyed by the eruption of Mont Pelée in 1902. A wonderful collection of colonial buildings remain. The sunsets are superb across the Caribbean Sea, so we will be ready to see the last flare of green as the sun dips below the edge of the sea.
Having seen this part of the island from the land, it is time to see more from the sea. We will row southwards, initially passing the spectacular botanical gardens of L’Anse Latouche, now transformed into a zoo. Perhaps we will take a break at the grey sand beach at Le Cabret. This town is also known for the brief stay of Paul Gauguin, an artist always drawn to exotic tropical destinations. Bellefontaine is a small fishing village and where we will load the boats onto the trailer. Then we will take a leisurely drive, heading to the southern end of the island and our stay at a beach resort. Ah, this is the life!
Our boats arrive for our last day of rowing. We will row from Ste. Luce to the Plage de Pointe-Marin in Ste. Anne. It is a lovely, gentle coastline with lots of bays and points and especially yellow sand beaches lined by palms. Lots of opportunity to take a break and splash in the sea. Picnic lunch is mandatory on the beach. A terrific way to end a perfect winter rowing holiday. Tonight is our farewell dinner. As we enjoy excellent French cuisine, we can reflect on our adventures of rowing in paradise.
Sadly, all good things come to an end. After a relaxed breakfast, we will make our way back to Fort-de-France for late afternoon flights. Or if you are very lucky, you can continue on to your next adventure on the beautiful island of Martinique.