Saint Martin (French: Saint-Martin; Dutch: Sint Maarten) is an island in the northeast Caribbean, divided into a Dutch and French side and very popular with cruise ships and vacationers that come for relaxing, sunbathing, shopping, dining, sailing and other water sports. The French and Dutch have lived side by side on St. Maarten/St. Martin for hundreds of years—with no border patrols or customs between them. Days filled with sunshine and breathtaking scenery are only some of the ingredients that create a unique feel and taste that reflect this beautiful Caribbean island. Enjoy our list of the Top 9 Things To Do In St. Martin / St. Maarten.
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“Dutch influences and ambiance on the St. Maarten side of the island and Gallic charm and culture on the St. Martin side” – Travel Age West
Orient Bay (St. Martin)
Orient Bay is a coastal community and beach on the French side of the island. Its beach is the most developed, the most popular and the busiest beach in the entire Caribbean. There are open-air beach restaurants specializing in fresh seafood and plenty of activities.
Friar’s Bay (St. Martin)
North of the French capital Marigot is Friar´s Bay, also known as Anse des Pères. It has a small, family oriented and very protected beach. The beach is famous for its two well-known beach restaurants, Friars Bay Beach Café and Kali’s Beach Bar.
Loterie Farm (St. Martin)
Loterie Farm is countryside of St. Maarten’s highest point, Pic du Paradis. It is a former sugar plantation, now is a big nature park (135 acres) with the island’s last remaining virgin rainforest. The clearly marked hiking trails takes you to the island’s highest point, where a viewing platform offers amazing 360-degree panoramas. You will also get to know local flora and fauna. Wild curious monkeys, parrots, hummingbirds and mongoose are commonly seen on the trails. The hills are covered by lush vegetation, running streams and beautiful sounds of the forest. Come early in the morning to have it all to yourself before the cruise ship crowds and zip liners take over. Source: windresorts
Marigot (St. Martin)
Marigot is the capital of French St Martin. There are numerous good restaurants, cafe’s and an excellent array of boutiques with fashions straight out of Paris. The town is distinctly French with a touch of Creole around the edges. Make sure to visit Marigot Market, local vendors set up in an open air shop every day except Sunday. Once you’ve quenched your hunger and thirst, take a walk to Fort Louis, the largest historical monument in St. Martin.
Maho (St. Maarten)
Maho Village in St Maarten is a “destination within a destination” that has truly redefined entertainment, dining, shopping and gaming in a vibrant resort atmosphere. More than 40 duty-free boutiques are on offer along with a host of international restaurants, bars, cafes and lounges to suit every palate and mood. Whatever your desire, whether it is high stakes gaming, adrenaline-pumping nightlife or relaxing Caribbean diversions, indulge it at Maho Village. Maho beach has the best view anywhere of planes landing right over your head has they make their approach to Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). Source: mahovillage
Front Street (St. Maarten)
Front Street is the main shopping area on the Dutch side. Located in the heart of Philipsburg, it features over a 1.6 km (1 mile) of shopping, mainly jewelry stores. In addition, in Philipsburg, there is Old Street with attractive gift stores and art galleries, and Back Street with a colorful local market, souvenir shops, and inexpensive clothing.
Dawn Beach (St. Maarten)
Great beach for snorkeling with pristine white sand and new facilities. Don’t be surprised if an iguana might be nearby.
Mullet Bay Beach (St. Maarten)
Very pretty beach on the sheltered side of the island with sunset views. It Is an attractive spot for local surfers.
Cupecoy Beach (St. Maarten)
Located on the island’s southwest tip, Cupecoy is a set of three beaches surrounded by limestone cliffs.
Just So You Know…
- The island is the smallest landmass to be shared by two separate governments.
- Philipsburg on Great Bay is the capital of Dutch St. Maarten, while Marigot is the capital of French Saint Martin. Both offer some of the best hotels in Saint Martin.
- Although sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting its salt deposits.
- The island is 9.3 miles in length and 8 miles at its widest with its highest point on the island is Pic Paradis (Paradise Peak) on the French Side at 1,392 ft.
- The official languages are Dutch, French and English but there are over 100 nationalities on the island so you can hear anything from French Creole to Spanish to Cantonese to Hindi.
- No place in the world can people get so close to planes that they can almost touch the fuselage as the planes fly over the beach and come in for a landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport — a thin, two-lane highway separates the beach from the runway. Thrill-seekers and aviation enthusiasts flock to the tiny half-Dutch/half-French island to sunbath in the shadow of a jumbo jet. Source: abcnews
Grab A Bite:
- L’Escargot – Located on the Dutch side. The menu is loaded with French specialties, and the restaurant is renowned for its escargot sampler.
- La Villa Restaurant – With French-style dishes and good wine.
- Lazy Lizard Beach Bar & Grill – With delicious food, specialty cocktails, fantastic service and a beautiful view.