Part of the Lesser Antilles, the island of Saint Marteens is a unique destination. Divided into two distinct parts – the French-speaking side, belonging to France, and the Dutch-speaking side, belonging to the Netherlands, this small Caribbean island will charm you as much by its tasty cuisine as by its 37 breathtaking, sandy beaches, its mountainous terrain, and its many entertainment and cultural attractions. Here is some practical information as well as some sites not to be missed if you are planning a trip to Saint Marteens.
93 Square Kilometres of Pure Beauty
Spanning 93 square kilometres from east to west, Saint Marteensis easily accessible by car. Indeed, in only a few hours, one can get around the entire island full of treasures of unique beauty. If you are planning a trip to Saint Marteens, make sure you rent a car in order not to miss any of its charms.
The Sunset Bar and Grill at Maho Beach
The Dutch side has many attractions to charm visitors, including the Sunset Bar and Grill, on the beach in Maho Beach, which offers tourists the opportunity to admire the sunset over the sea while sipping a delicious cocktail, but also to watch, from a very low altitude, aircraft from various airlines landing: an amazing show, unique in the world.
The landing strip of the Princess Juliana International Airport is renowned for having one of the most difficult of approaches; the planes have very little space and must touch down practically on the beach, just metres above the heads of the tourists. A plane landing schedule is even available so that you don't miss a trick. A must-see: one of the KLM giants landing!
Contrary to popular belief, watching these planes land on the beach does not detract from the tourists' holidays; rather, it enhances them. So don't hesitate to rent a room in the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino for this reason. The hotel is just steps from the bar where you can enjoy watching the planes land.
Maho Beach and Mullet Bay
Besides Maho Beach, which is altogether spectacular and very nice, although small, another seaside resort located a few minutes walk away is also worth seeing: Mullet Bay Beach. It's turquoise waters and white sand are surrounded by idyllic scenery. The shore has breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Other beaches worth visiting in Saint Martin are Red Bay (Baie Rouge) and Long Bay Beaches, to name a couple.
Philipsburg, the Capital
Staying on the Dutch side, everyone is overwhelmed by the beauty of Philipsburg, the capital, and its thousand duty free shops next to a turquoise sea surrounded by mountains and lined with pretty little sailboats and other pleasure crafts.
One can stroll along Front Street, stop for a bite to eat in a restaurant, or sip a cocktail under the blazing sun.
Philipsburg has other tourist destinations worth visiting, such as the St Maarten Museum, which offers you a chance to discover the history of the island, and the Courthouse, one of the country's most famous monuments.
Philipsburg is also a port of call of cruise ships, so if you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to see them dock and you can mingle with the crowd of cruise passengers who disembark to invade the boutiques along the promenade.
The Wonders of the French Side
On the French side, many wonders await tourists in search of sublime ocean views and gourmet dinners with a backdrop of fantastic sunsets.
The village of Grand Case, northeast of the city of Marigot, is by itself worth the trip to Saint Marteens. Indeed, with its turquoise beach and dream villas, beautiful yachts and gourmet restaurants run by internationally renowned French chefs, Grand Case is the perfect place for a romantic dinner. You will surely remember a trip to Grand Case for the rest of your life!
The Old House
If you go to Grand Case, don't miss the Old House, a home from another era still furnished with period furniture, and its famous rum museum. You will be able to taste the rum in an old plantation and see “photos” of the period when Christopher Columbus landed on the island. It's the perfect place for rum and history lovers planning a trip to St. Marteens!
Still on the French side, the biggest town of Saint-Marteens, Marigot, is a must see. Dominated by the ruins of Fort Louis, the destination is full of terraces, luxury boutiques, restaurants where you can stop for a bite to eat or shop.
Marigot's boutiques sell the most precious jewellery in the Caribbean. No doubt you will find the diamond of your dreams if you are thinking of proposing to your sweetheart!
Besides Fort Louis, you should also visit Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem 1 if you are planning a trip to St. Martin.
Another must-see attraction of Saint Marteens is Pic Paradis, the country's highest mountain. From its summit of 424 metres, one has a number of panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding mountains.
Excursions to Other Islands
Saint Marteens being close to other islands, a number of tour operators offer tourists excursions to other destinations. This is the case for Anguilla, which you can explore by boat from Saint Marteens. Have a good trip !