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This overseas department of France is the only place on earth where rum distilleries have earned AOC status, so what else would you possibly need to know? Quite a bit, according to Karine Mousseau, Martinique’s tourism commissioner, when we talked last week during Caribbean Week NYC.

Karine Mousseau, Martinique’s tourism commissioner.

For starters, American Airlines, which flies year-round from Miami to Martinique, is increasing its flights to six per week for the 2018-19 season. Norwegian Air will be flying twice a week from Fort Lauderdale and four times a week from JFK Oct. 28, 2018 through March 2019.

Diamant-les-Bains, one of the first hotels in Martinique, is getting an upgrade and will reopen this fall as a four-star,” said Mousseau. This does not, however, reflect an island in the throes of overbuilding. There are just 3,500 hotel rooms and 4,500 villa-style accommodations in Martinique, and that’s one of the island’s advantages. “We promote Martinique as an island that has to be discovered. You rent a car and you drive around,” she explained. “Do some activities—water sports, hiking, visit gardens and historic sites, stopping in at distilleries—explore our culture, our heart, our smile, our cuisine….and as you explore, you are safe and you are free.”

Safe, indeed: Martinique has won multiple awards for being the safest island in the Caribbean, as determined by Resonance Consultancy, which publishes the Caribbean Tourism Quality Index.

However, there are thrills amid the sense of security. For example, the Martinique Flying Regatta will be held in the Bay of France Nov. 17-24, 2018. Foiling—a new sport that had a few tentative runs in the Brazil Olympics—involves sailing crafts that have a foil below the surface. When a catamaran or kiteboard with a foil catches the wind, it rises up out of the water, picks up speed, and seems to fly. The Martinique Flying Regatta will be the world’s first-ever all-foiler event.

Catamaran foiling in Martinique.

But back to rum, or rhum, as it’s called in the French islands. Martinique, which has 11 distilleries (Clement is a favorite of this reporter, in part because of its unique history and museum), continues to fine-tune its Route du Rhum, to which one could easily devote several days. “Rhum is a drink, but it’s much more, too,” said Mousseau. “When people discover rhum, they also discover our culture and our history.”

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