Since I’ve been visiting the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten for over 10 years now, it seems appropriate that I write my first “Insider Island Guide” on it. Half French (St. Martin) and half Dutch (St. Maarten), this island is a cultural melting pot bustling with incredible people, food, activities and events. There truly is no shortage of things to do here, dubbed by the locals as “The Friendly Island.” Everything from the Heineken Regatta sailboat race to Carnival, there truly is something for everyone. With 37 beautiful beaches to relax on and explore and a myriad of water and land activities like sailing, diving, hiking and paragliding. Shop in the Dutch capital of Philipsburg by day, and dine in one of the exquisite French restaurants in the French capital of Marigot by night – the island is yours to explore and enjoy!
High season begins in December and runs through the middle of April. During high season the island is buzzing with people, amazing yachts and sailboats, yet things can get a little pricey. The rest of the year, during off-season, you could find a hotel for as little as half the price you might pay during high season. The weather in St. Martin is beautiful year round, with the winds being slightly higher December-February, and dying down during the summer. You might get a little rain shower once a day, which is normal for the tropical climate. It’s best to avoid traveling to here in August and September, as this is hurricane season and a lot of restaurants and shops are closed.
For lodging, stay at La Samana on the French side – the most beautiful hotel on the island (in my opinion) located on a pristine private beach. Or, if you are looking for something more private, there are beautiful villas you can rent on both French and Dutch side. I would go through a rental company like WIMCO.
Must-do activities include:
Spend the morning hiking and zip lining at Pic Paradis, then relax at the spring-fed pool (Loterie Farm) in the afternoon
Charter a sailboat for the day and visit some of the St. Martin beaches by boat, as well as Tintamare island where you can snorkel with sea turtles
Have a drink and watch the sunset at Calmos Café in Grand Case then head next door to Le Pressior for an amazing French meal
Spend the day on the beach in the secluded bay of Anse Marcel and eat lunch at Anse Marcel Beach restaurant
Dance the night away in Maho, starting at Sky Beach and ending at Tantra
Spend a day on Orient Bay, the most popular beach on the island
There are so many beautiful beaches on the island, but here are my favorites:
Orient Bay Beach, French side
Friar’s Bay Beach, French side
Simpson Beach, Dutch side
Happy Bay, French side
Long Bay Beach, French side
Baie Rouge, French side
Mullet Beach, Dutch side
Anse Marcel Beach, French side