February 18-22 2012; February 9-13 2013
The saints may go marching in at other carnival locales, but on this island in the French West Indies, the boisterous pre-Lent event revolves around the devil. Festivities kick off with a traditional carnival parade on Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) but the carnival really heats up on the Day of the Devil, when everyone wears red and dresses in demonic costumes. The climax comes on Ash Wednesday evening at the waterfront La Savane park in Fort-de-France, with a salacious dance of the devils and a bonfire to burn a giant papier-mâché effigy of Vaval that symbolizes the end of the festival and the start of Lent; martinique.org.
While you’re here: Venture up the west coast to the seaside ruins of Saint-Pierre and trek to the top of still-active Mount Pelée.
Where to stay: The chic La Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa has 50 seaside suites boasting Asia-inspired decor with bamboo, touches of hemp, and private plunge pools. Rates start at $552; capest.com.