Don"t Miss Westenberger describes the Balata Gardens, near Fort-de-France, as "an extraordinary place with weird succulents popping out of drifts of anthuriums." During summer take in a weekend yole ronde race, featuring crews sailing the island"s signature wooden boats in warm-ups for the big weeklong round-the-island August regatta. For free fun, catch a performance of beguine dancing. "It"s the meeting of contemporary dance and former slave dances, performed to live rhythmic music," Westenberger says. Rum connoisseurs can sample and compare the high-quality rums at 13 island distilleries; Codrescu recommends Leyritz Plantation and Clement Distillery. Year-round events, most notably the Saint-Pierre Festival held in May, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Pelée.