St. Martin or St. Maarten, is one of the most interesting and unique destinations in the Caribbean because it is governed by two European countries – the Netherlands and France – and has maintained much of its Dutch and French roots. The island of St. Martin encompasses just about 37 square miles and is home to several luxury resorts, beach vacation rental properties, value-priced hotels and affordable motels. This beach destination is also home to a number of unique attractions and sites. From butterfly gardens to scenic coves, you’ll find several interesting places to explore throughout the area.
Many visitors flock to this area to enjoy the nightlife scene or spend the day shopping. You’ll find a number of duty-free shops scattered throughout the area, and many offer designer goods and luxury items for up to 30% or more off standard U.S. and Canadian prices. When you’re not enjoying water activities such as snorkeling, diving and sailing, or relaxing on the beach to work on your tan, head to one of the stables in the area for a day of horseback riding or just relax at the spa.
Golf enthusiasts will enjoy a few rounds of golf on the beautiful golf courses on Mullet Bay. Outdoor enthusiasts and watersport fans will enjoy a few days of deep sea fishing, surfing, body boarding and scuba diving around the shores of St. Martin on any given day. You have a choice of 37 beaches on the island, and it’s relatively easy to spend some time “island hopping” to nearby islands including St. Eustatius, Saba, Anguilla and St. Barths. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the Carnival celebration in St. Martin in April. This 17-day event includes live music, dancing, great food and parades featuring traditional costumes. It’s the biggest party and celebration of the year on the islands, and can be a great way to learn about the culture of the area and meet some of the locals.
St. Martin Weather and Best Time to Visit
The island of St. Martin has a sunny and warm climate year-round, which is why it has become a popular destination for northerners and travelers who want to get away from the harsh winters and enjoy a relaxing vacation on sunny shores. Gentle trade winds help to maintain a cool and temperate climate, and the you can look forward to average temperatures in the 80s during winter season and high 70s during the summer. If you travel to the island during Carnival season in April, you can expect to pay premium rates at area hotels and resorts.
Peak season is usually around the holidays and during the entire winter season, so plan around these times if you are looking for more affordable rates and attractive prices on hotels and resorts on the island.
Experience St. Martin
If it’s your first time visiting the island, consider taking a long taxi tour to enjoy some of the natural sites and wonders, and learn more about the history of the area. The island of St. Martin boasts several clean, upscale beaches and romantic coves that are perfect for honeymoons and group getaways. Whether your idea of a vacation is to relax on the sunny shores of the beach, go fishing for a day, spend a few hours snorkeling and diving, or just picnicking on the sands, you’ll find a beach on St. Martin to suit your tastes and itinerary.
Some of the most popular beaches on St. Martin include:
Great Bay Beach
Guana Bay Beach
Kim Sha Beach
Divi Little Bay Beach
Simpson Bay Beach
Le Galion Beach
Friar’s Bay Beach
Nettle Bay Beach
Grand Case Beach
Some of these beaches are within walking distance of hiking and nature trails, and are an idyllic location for birdwatching, sunset strolls and wildlife viewing. The smaller, more secluded beaches are good spots for picnicking and relaxation.
St. Martin is considered to be the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, and is home to several waterfront restaurants and specialty restaurants that serve food from around the globe. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Caribbean fare to Argentinean food, you’ll find a variety of dishes from over 90 countries. Many of the restaurants and bars in the area host live music and special events throughout the week. If you’re looking for more casual eateries, head to one of the beachside cafes or food carts for a taste of regional cuisine.
Since St. Martin is the only duty-free destination in the Caribbean, it’s become an international shopping mecca in itself. Stores typically stay open until 11 p.m., and you’ll find dozens of retail stores, designer boutiques and smaller shops selling an array of goods, furnishings, décor and gifts at affordable prices.
There is only one museum on the island. You’ll find it on the Dutch side of the island. You can also explore a number of art galleries, sculpture displays and costume exhibits at various venues on the island. Many artists have homes and studios right on the island, so you may even be able to meet some of the local talent during your visit.