Spring is nearly here! A time when this man’s fancy turns to thoughts of warm, sunny days; strong drinks; and limin’ at a laid back beach bar. There are lots to choose from all over the Caribbean, of course, though given the option I’d definitely opt for my favorite seaside watering holes in Martinique this year.

Yeah, those crazy-low round-trip airfares aboard Norwegian (as low as US$79 each way, including taxes!) are a factor in my desire. Just as important, though, is just how special these uncommon beach bars really are versus most any that I’ve come across elsewhere in the islands.

Lily's in Schoelcher, Martinique

Lili’s in Schoelcher, Martinique

All beach bars are big on fun and good drinks, of course. So, how do places like Le Petibonum, Lili’s, Le Senat, Cocoa Beach Cafe, Wahoo Cafe, Ti Sable, and others scattered all throughout Martinique outshine the rest?

It all starts with cuisine; as in real, exceptional, five-star inventive gourmet eats presented as art like you might sooner expect to find on tables covered in fine linens and attended by white-gloved servers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: they take food very seriously in Martinique. Don’t expect to find the usual burgers, hot dogs, and ultra-fried everything you tend to find on beach bar menus elsewhere.

Guy Ferdinand at Le Petibonum, Martinique

Guy Ferdinand at Le Petibonum, Martinique

Dishes served at beach bars in Martinique are expertly prepared by celebrated international chefs like Guy Ferdinand, aka Chef Hot Pants, at Le Petibonum, and unknown locals who simply take a lot of pride in crafting and serving great food.

Sure, I’ve encountered exceptions in other islands. Nowhere, though, is the beach bar food as universally awesome as Martinique.

Typically pretty plate in Martinique | SBPR

Typically pretty plate in Martinique | SBPR

The other big difference: rhum agricole… and lots of it!

As we’ve covered before, rhum agricole, which is distilled from fresh-pressed sugarcane, is different, in and of itself, from the molasses-based rum we all know. Only about 2% of the world’s rum is classified as rhum agicole. The best of it is made in Martinique.

Rhum agricole on the beach in Martinique | SBPR

Rhum agricole on the beach in Martinique | SBPR

A good 10 distilleries produce 15 different brands here, all of them crafted to exacting standards that have earned Martinican rhum the distinction of being the only rums in the world to hold a coveted AOC designation.

Savoring rum/rhum at a beach bar here is a simply rapturous experience for true lovers of the Caribbean’s quintessential spirit.

Beach bars generally carry wide varieties of Martinican rhum, with vintage bottles dating back 50+ years occasionally hiding on top shelves. This is especially true at Le Kano in Trois-Ilets, which boasts arguably the best rhum selection of any bar, restaurant, or hotel on the island.

You just won’t find another Caribbean destination with more different brands of world class rhum or better food. And with airfares as low as those offered by Norwegian right now, you’ll be able to enjoy more of those excellent eats and drinks this spring.

Bon Appétit!

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