Traveling in St. Martin
The Caribbean island of Saint Martin is actually two separate territories. In the 1600s, the French and the Dutch each claimed a section of the island after the signing of a treaty. To the north lies the French Side, Saint Martin; in the south is the Dutch Side, also called Sint Maarten.
The Dutch Side of the island is more bustling, sporting many resorts, towns, and a thriving nightlife, while the French Side hosts many of the island’s natural wonders and shopping areas. However, both are excellent places to visit; they are the intersect of Caribbean luxury and European style. Most inhabitants speak English, and the beautiful, beachy island thrives on tourism. You will find that it has rightfully earned its nickname as "The Friendly Island."
87 km2 / 34 sq mi
77,741 (2009 estimate)
Dutch, English, and French
French Side: Euro (EUR);
Dutch Side: Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Some great photos of St. Martin.
Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit This is a movie museum filled with memorabilia that focuses heavily on Star Wars and special effects. The man responsible for the creation of Yoda is usually on site and is willing to chat with any guest. Admission is $10. You may have to look to find it in the area, as it is crowded and has many shops nearby.
Little Bay Beach Little Bay Beach is a small, charming Caribbean beach that has snorkeling off the shore, cheap water sport rentals, and free chairs and showers. It is clean and not very crowded, which makes it ideal for a relaxing stop in St. Martin. Transportation is readily available to and from the beach.
Boardwalk Clean and well-maintained,d the Boardwalk is a picturesque stretch of restaurants, shopping, and other landmarks. It is not as crowded as other shopping areas in Phillipsburg, and it overlooks the beach.
Frontstreet This narrow, crowded cobblestone street made Phillipsburg famous for its duty-free shopping. Restaurants, bars, and other stores line the sides. It is most known for the exquisite jewelry stores.While it is crowded, it is safe and friendly.
St. Maarten Zoo This small, charming zoo will allow people of all ages to enjoy themselves. Most of the displayed animals live on St. Martin; iguanas, birds, turtles, and monkeys are only some of the featured exhibits. It is inexpensive and highly interactive.
Holland House Beach Hotel Holland House Beach Hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the city and also on a beautiful beach. Whether you want to relax or explore Phillipsburg, everything is just a step outside the hotel lobby. It features an award-winning on-site restaurant with beachside service. Excellent views and service will guarantee you have a luxury Caribbean vacation.
Divi Little Bay Beach Resort Divi Little Bay Beach Resort is nestled between two stunning bays mere minutes from all the action in Phillipsburg. Spotless, spacious, and located on a hilltop, you will fall in love with the resort and the surrounding areas. It is a short drive from the airport. In addition, it has connections to local businesses and will assist you in organizing activities outside the resort.
Belair Beach Hotel Their tagline says it all: “The only thing we overook is the ocean.” The rooms are air conditioned, come beautifully furnished, and have a kitchen. Some of the amenities include a tennis court, a restaurant, a bar, a book and video rental store, water sports, and a free wine and cheese party every Monday. It is conveniently located a short drive away from the entertainment hub in Phillipsburg.
Lazy Lizard Beach Bar & Grill The Lazy Lizard Beach Bar & Grill is situated right beside the beach, which will allow you to enjoy your meal as you watch the waves, the boats, and the beachgoers. The service and the Caribbean food is excellent.
Dirty Sanchez Crew Bar Located right on the Phillipsburg Boardwalk, Dirty Sanchez Crew Bar has an amazing, vibrant atmosphere and an extensive drink menu. The service is great and the other customers are friendly, which guarantees that you will leave happy. They offer specials for cruise passengers.
Dan’s Chocolate Factory The owner, Dan, and his wife run this quaint restaurant. The food is great and chocolate-infused, including chocolate bacon and chocolate shots. However, the cocktail menu is the true appeal of this restaurant. Both the unique and flavorful menu and the affordable prices will keep you coming back.
Freedom Fighters Ital Shack The food at Freedom Fighters Ital shack is authentic and Jamaican; additionally, it is fresh, healthy, and largely vegetarian. Each day, the owner develops a new menu, so you can be sure they use only the best ingredients.
Prickly Pear The crew, the boat, and the food will all exceed expectations during the cruise to the island of Prickly Pear. The beaches are pristine, the nearby reef is lovely, and there is a wealth of wildlife on the island itself. It is a small, relaxing slice of paradise with excellent snorkeling opportunities.
Fort Saint-Louis Fort Saint-Louis sits on top of a hill overlooking the town of Marigot and the ocean; you will get a stunning panoramic view of the nearby areas that is especially brilliant at sunset. The French flag soars above it, clearly broadcasting the French influence on the island nation’s history. It is a quick climb to the top of the hill to see the stone ruins and various cannons. Take a guided tour to get the full cultural experience.
Paradise Peak Marigot sits at the foot of Paradise Peak, which is the tallest mountain on the island of St. Martin. You can either drive or walk to the top to get the fantastic view of the shore and the town. It costs a small fee to hike; however, it is worth it to see all the natural beauty of the island. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes.
Mercure St Martin and Marina The Mercure St Martin and Marina is perfectly located in an area that allows easy access to the airport, the bustling nightlife of Marigot, and the beaches. It has a restaurant, a bar, an infinity pool, and spa services. The gardens have rich foliage and some sculptures, which, along with the friendly staff, contributes to the pleasant atmosphere of the hotel.
Le Centr’Hotel Le Centr’Hotel combines Caribbean luxury with all the amenities; it offers guests access to the beach as well as cable and Wifi. It is reasonably priced, but it does not cut back on service or comfort because of its rates.
Tropicana With a small, intimate setting and delicious French food, you will need to make a reservation before coming to Tropicana. Because the staff is friendly and the restaurant sits right on the marina, it has a lovely atmosphere. Be sure to try the desserts.
Le Galion Le Galion offers a casual, French dining experience for reasonable prices. The restaurant overlooks the marina, allowing you to watch the water and the boats as they drift by. The local seafood is amazing in flavor, freshness, and presentation.
La Croissanterie For fresh French pastries, there is no better place to go on the island. The crepes, croissants, and coffee are among the most recommended items on the menu. They only open for breakfast and lunch service and close entirely on Fridays.
Mario’s Bistro Mario’s Bistro serves a combination of French and Italian cuisine. The food is delicious, flavorful, and very creative-- and it is served to you by friendly, professional staff. Despite its great menu and a great location, Mario’s prices are very reasonable compared to other restaurants on the island.
La Petite Auberge Des Isles La Petite Auberge Des Isles oozes charm with its local French-inspired cuisine. You will find tourists and residents alike flocking to this small, hidden gem on the marina. The prices are reasonable for incredible food that will have you coming back for the next meal.
Noel Day Tours Noel Day Tours, named after its founder, provides excellent bus tours of the island. Noel, the guide, is engaging, honest, and humorous. He will patiently answer any questions and make stops along the tour for you to get out and enjoy the sites.
Orient Bay Village
SxM Surf Explorer No matter your skill level, the SxM Surf Explorer school has lessons for you. The instructors are patient and incredibly knowledgeable about surfing and about the island of St. Martin. To top it off, you will learn to surf in a beautiful reef setting.
Orient Bay Beach Whether you want to enjoy a drink on the sand or engage in the many water sport offerings, Orient Bay Beach has something for everyone. Reasonably priced restaurants line the beach, and their waiters will typically bring your order directly to your beach chair. There is a clothing optional section of the beach.
Wind Adventures Enjoy a cruise with Wind Adventures anywhere from a few hours to a few days. You can windsurf, paddleboard, snorkel, sail, fish, and much more. The boat includes sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and indoor and outdoor dining areas. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, ensuring that you will have a pleasant cruise.
Neptune Dive Center The accommodating staff of Neptune Dive Center are true professionals who will guarantee you have a great underwater experience. Beneath the calm surface, the ocean teems with fish and beautiful reefs for you to look at and swim amongst. While the staff speaks English, they will practice French with you if you choose.
Palm Court Hotel Just a short minute walk from the beach, Palm Court Hotel is a tropical paradise. The gorgeous hotel grounds, which include a pool, are surrounded by lush flora and fruit trees. They offer Wifi, a small library, concierge services, and babysitting arrangements.
Le Grand Bleu Located right on the beach, Le Grand Bleu is also a short drive away from all the major cities in St. Martin. Its pool is flanked by gardens and faces the sea. Each room has AC, Wifi, a safe, and a kitchen. You will enjoy a comfortable stay, assisted by the kind and helpful staff.
Esmeralda Resort Esmeralda Resort is a quaint cottage that overlooks the beach. The rooms are spacious, the staff is friendly, and the hotel offers a large selection of food and beach bars. Breakfast is served each morning.
Alamanda Resort Each spacious room has a terrace that overlooks either the well-kept pool, the gardens, or the ocean. Alamanda Resort has an on-site restaurant that will serve you right on the beach. It is conveniently located beside the beach and a small shopping area.
The Sun Beach Clubber For a very reasonable price, you get an ocean view, a drink, and a beach chair and umbrella to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. The service is excellent, and the food is even better. The menu is extensive, including French, sushi, and amazing local seafood.
Le String You can easily spend an entire day at the beachside restaurant Le String. For a small fee, you receive a table with an umbrella and a frozen drink. For authentic, delicious Caribbean food served with a smile, come to Le String.
Le Piment Le Piment is only open for dinner service, but they offer a wide range of meals with huge portions for a reasonable price. The service is excellent, and the staff is very energetic and passionate about the food.
La Table d’Antoine Antoine, the owner, will ensure that you have an excellent dining experience. The French cuisine is delicious with a great selection of wine to complement each dish. It is priced by the glass at some of the most competitive rates in Orient Bay.
Tiko Tiko Cruises Take a private tour of the beautiful oceans and islands just off the coast of Orient Bay. Enjoy great food, drinks, sights, and hospitality. Clothing is optional on this tour.
Simpson Bay Village
The Yacht Club at Isle de Sol Situated right in Simpson Bay near the bridge and in a highly secured area, the scenic Yacht Club at Isle de Sol attracts yacht owners from around the world. It is a welcoming and friendly area, so sit back with a drink to watch the gorgeous boats file in and out of the harbor.
Kim Sha Beach Many resorts border the beautiful Kim Sha Beach. The water is clear and calm, and the ocean floor is much smoother than other beaches on St. Martin, making it ideal for wading and swimming. Lounge under an umbrella with a drink and enjoy the breathtaking ocean view.
Edge II to Saba Saba is a gorgeous rock formation that juts out of an island just off the coast of Simpson Bay. It has striking views and tropical foliage. The boat ride is anywhere from 30-90 minutes, but the seas can sometimes be rough. The staff takes care of passengers, however, and provides ginger ale for anyone prone to seasickness.
The Azure Hotel The Azure Hotel sits on one of the most gorgeous beaches in St. Martin and is conveniently located just a short distance from the center of the village. The hotel offers cable, Wifi, free international calling, a kitchen in each room, and complimentary beach umbrellas. Most notably, the Azure Hotel houses a small art gallery and studio. You can make an appointment to watch the artists work.
Turquoise Shell Inn The Turquoise Shell Inn blends many of the best parts of the island. From the hotel, you can either walk to the beach or to the town where the bars, restaurants, and shops are located. Furthermore, it has easy access to both the French and Dutch halves of the island, making it steeped in both European influences.The rooms are clean and comfortable and are available at a reasonable price.
The Horny Toad Guesthouse The Horny Toad Guesthouse is a beautiful, quant bed and breakfast that offers a much lower key experience than the beach resorts. The rooms each have kitchens a small book selection. Because it is a more isolated location, it is not busy and the beach, mere feet away from the front door, is quiet. The American owners will guarantee that you have an excellent, relaxing stay.
Crave Bright, local artwork and friendly staff set the tone at this Mediterranean restaurant. The decor is simple, elegant, and relaxing. The enthusiasm of the owner, however, complements the otherwise quiet ambiance.
The Palms Restaurant This quaint, hidden restaurant serves excellent Caribbean food with warm service. They are most known for their ‘drunken ribs,’ which are marinated in whiskey before they are cooked to perfection.
Little Jerusalem Little Jerusalem offers a casual dining experience. Its Middle Eastern cuisine comes in huge portions for a reasonable cost. With only four tables and a very welcoming staff, Little Jerusalem is very homey. Be sure to try their BBQ Shawarma.
Vesna Taverna Its rustic island decor and kind staff create an atmosphere more similar to dining in someone’s home rather than at a restaurant. Its menu is diverse and delicious. Every Saturday night, they have a Greek night special. In addition, they have incredible homemade desserts.
Schooner Dinner Cruise The Schooner Dinner Cruise is a gorgeous trip off the coast of St. Martin where you can enjoy a three course meal and an open bar. Watch the sun set over the ocean and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
After a hurricane wiped out the Mullet Bay area, it has come back, restored and better than ever. The water and sand are gorgeous, making it one of the best beaches on St. Martin. The umbrella rentals are cheap, as are the food and drinks. Watch the beautiful waves or the planes glide by overhead. Try snorkeling in the crystalline waters and observe the wildlife, from fish to octopi. If you want to escape the sun and sand, venture to the golf course next door.
Maho Beach is one of the most unique in the Caribbean. While many are excellent for relaxation, Maho Beach has an exciting flair to it. The airplanes whiz just overhead, kicking up clouds of sand. You can see them in great detail and delight as they soar almost within reach. However, the water is also gorgeous if you want to take a break from the excitement of plane-watching.
Access the beautiful Pinel Island either by ferry, which leave several times a day from the Cul de Sac, or by kayaking for about fifteen minutes off a nearby beach. The striking beaches are dotted with Tiki huts and amazing BBQ restaurants. Lie out on the sand or go snorkeling to observe the diverse reef ecosystems.
Tintamarre Island, also known as the flat island, is easy to access by boat. It is a turtle preserve, so you can watch (or touch, if you’re lucky) the turtles on the shore or observe them feeding on the plant life while snorkeling. You can also find a variety of other fish and stingrays. The island is a frequent spot for a nudist colony, but they typically are located on one isolated end of the beach.
The Seaside Nature Park offers many activities. However, the most notable one is a tour of the gorgeous trails on horseback. Ride through the nature preserve and conclude the trip by swimming in the bay with the horses. You can also kayak, swim, and perhaps see sea turtles if you are lucky.
The Butterfly Farm is an absolutely gorgeous location with hundreds and hundreds of different species of butterflies. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and will share with you about the farm’s history, the island, and everything you would ever want to know about butterflies. Enjoy a drink as you stroll through the gardens. You will be given a pass to come back as much as you like for a week, all for around $15.
St. Martin Travel Links
Here are some links that we've found useful in planning our travels in St. Martin.