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French Caribbean


Francophone Caribbean culture is a mash up of all things mesmerizing. When you take the rich European fancies of French "je ne sais quoi" and throw it down against a striking backdrop of tropical blues and greens, you have the starry-eyed yacht charter destinations that make up the French Antilles. Home to some of the most sophisticated stop-offs on the yacht lifestyle circuit, the French Caribbean islands are awash with barefoot luxury.

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MARTINIQUE

Sitting beneath the shadow of the glowering Mont Pelee volcano, Martinique is a charming outpost for those who adore the finer things in life. The capital, Fort de France, bustles with life, but head away from the urban crush to find a plethora of deep, dense rainforests, mountains in the north, and secluded bays of sugar-white sand in the south. Those charter guests seeking sleepy fishing villages can go down to Les Trois-Ilets. Home comforts are never far in Martinique, with fabulous infrastructure and even foie gras imported from France.

DOMINICA

Caught between Euro-style Martinique and gorgeous Guadeloupe, Dominica will have you rubbing your eyes twice. This wild little island lends itself more to prehistoric storybook than Caribbean cliché. Swap out the rum-addled afternoons and sun-kissed lounging for boiling lakes, indigenous encounters, and long-distance hikes. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a veritable UNESCO gem with its gorges, falls, and emerald pools — not to mention the famed Boiling Lake and misty, mystical Valley of Desolation. Divers will go gooey-eyed for the bubbling coral at Champagne Reef, and visiting the Kalinago people gives you a rare insight into tribal life.

GUADELOUPE

A rich little archipelago with two main islands as beautiful as butterfly wings, Guadeloupe is one of the lesser-explored yacht charter destinations. Fields of sugar cane lend a sweetness to the air, mangroves invite intrepid explorers, and guests can pick the side of the island that best suits their moods. Wildlife lovers keen to kie, kayak, and trea will fall head over heels for the colorful terrain of Basse-Terre. Those who prefer to graze on glorious food and kick back on blissful beaches will sigh in delight over little Grande-Terre. Island-hopping on the shores of Les Saintes and Marie-Galante will also gift visitors the chance to experience the relatively untapped side of Guadeloupe.

ST. BARTS

St. Barts barely needs an introduction, so long has she remained the poster child for perfectly encapsulating the yacht charter lifestyle. Home of Nikki Beach Club, swaths of superyachts and private jets, Michelin-quality restaurants, and splurge-worthy shopping, St. Barts is the ultimate French Caribbean destination. Be sure to drop anchor close to Saline Beach, where secluded pale apricot sands invite the young and the beautiful to nap, bathe, and nibble with champagne picnics. Nikki Beach is a must for mingling with A-listers, and over on Petite Anse you can snorkel from sunrise to sunset. Daytimes are casual, but come the evening, St. Barts blazes to life — from fine dining to late-night lounges and racuous clubs that invite all manner of hedonism, St. Barts is Riviera glam meets Caribbean cool.

SAINT MARTIN

The French half of the island boasts a much quieter nature than the Dutch side where the cruise ships like to park. A hint of joie de vivre can certainly be found washed up on the white sand beaches or collected in the jumbled colorful little towns where lazy afternoons are best spent lingering over glasses of wine and sampling local bouillabaise with a Creole kick. Snorkel on Orient Beach, go galloping at the Bayside Riding Club, and swoop over the canopies with a zip-lining adventure at the lush Loterie Farm. Shoppers can mix up signature scents at the local parfumeries, and the dramatic vista from the 18th-century Fort Louis is well worth the hike.