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The Islands of
Sint Maarten, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a country on the southern part of a Caribbean island shared with Saint Martin, a French overseas collectivity. Its natural features span lagoons, beaches and salt pans. The capital, Philipsburg, has cobblestone streets and colorful, colonial-style buildings lining its Front Street shopping area. The port is a popular cruise-ship stop.
Small but beautiful and perfectly formed, this Caribbean gem is actually the world’s smallest area of land divided into two nations – one half is French (Saint Martin) and the other is Dutch (St Maarten). The result is something truly unique and this is an idyllic island paradise where 120 different nationalities mix alongside each other and where some of the finest cuisines in the Caribbean can be found. Add to that some gorgeous white sandy beaches, tranquil hidden bays, some lively beach bars and nightlife, excellent shopping and some great options for water sports and hiking and you had a pretty fabulous vacation destination. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.
Island Resorts & Retreats
WHERE TO STAY
Simpson Bay, located in the southwest side of the island (the Dutch Side) is where to stay in St. Maarten if it’s your first time here!
The Simpson Bay area will keep you entertained at any time of the day, starting from its lively center brimming with shops, bars, restaurants, clubs, and casinos, to super long white beaches and transparent waters surrounded by beautiful green hills!
If in Sympson bay the options to spend a relaxed holiday are plenty, the opportunities to stay active are even more! Here you can go hiking, snorkeling, or even horseback riding at the Seaside Nature Park and play golf at the golf course just nearby.
Dawn Beach lies on the eastern shores of St. Maarten, on the opposite side of Simpson Bay, and 30 minutes drive from the airport. If during your holiday all you want is relaxation, sun, and sand, this is THE place for you!
In Dawn Beach you can lay down on the white sands (like the one of Orient Bay beach), deep dive in the crystal clear waters and snorkel with colorful fishes during the day, and enjoy a tropical cocktail with a sunset view in the many beach bars as the sun goes down.
But from Dawn Beach you’ll also have access to many outdoor activities, like hiking to the top of Pic Paradis peak, where you’ll have stunning views both of the island’s interior and coast, or zip-lining in Loteries Farm if you want some adrenaline!
Grand Case Beach Club
Discover an almost hidden, secluded, but accessible island location with two beaches, expansive views and generous, comfortable suites, Grand Case Beach Club draws you into the island’s laid-back Caribbean lifestyle.
Grand Case Beach Club, is perfectly located a short walk from St. Martin’s renown town of Grand Case. Enjoy the vitality and pulse of the village’s many restaurants, eateries (“lolos”), bars and shops – then return to the tranquility and serenity of Grand Case Beach Club to unwind and refresh from the explorations.
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Things To Do In
At once French and Dutch, lively and laid-back, graced with pretty beaches and rising to palm-studded hilltops, famed for its shopping and sweet guavaberry rums, seaside beach bars and casino-lead nightlife, there are many sides to little St. Martin.
It’s hardly a wonder that so many cruise ships opt to drift into the harbours of Marigot and Philipsburg on their way through the currents of the region.
It means a whole host of things to do and see for travelers, from lofty lookout points with sweeping views across to Anguilla to beautiful sands on Orient Bay.
There are also opportunities to hit the jet skis and see multi-coloured butterflies, to sail across to untrodden islands and unravel the history of colonial conflicts between The Netherlands and Spanish sailors, to talk to macaws and see bearded monkeys, finishing off with a medley of tasty rums and haute foods courtesy of the Parisian influence.
Fresh Island Flavours
DRINKS & DINING
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort
The Sonesta Ocean Point Resort was founded in December 2014 and is a five-star resort that is located on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten in the heart of Maho Village. This famous resort is located near the famous Maho Beach which is known as one of the entertainment hubs of the island. There are exciting activities for all to do near the resort such as duty-free shopping, dining at fine restaurants, and visiting casinos, nightclubs, and the nearby beaches.
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, also found in our article with the best luxury hotels in Saint Martin, features amenities such as three pools featuring breath-taking views of Maho Bay, an elegant rooftop bar, three restaurants that feature Caribbean and Mediterranean style dishes on their menus, 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, balconies in the rooms with amazing views of Maho Bay, Nespresso machines, flat-screen TVs, a spa, a gym and evening entertainment at the lounges at the hotel. The resort is about a 5-minute taxi ride away from Princess Juliana Airport.
Belmond La Samanna
Belmond La Samanna is located in Baie Longue, in Terres Basses, on the westernmost point of the French side of Saint Martin. This five-star beachside resort was opened in 1973 and is still one of the most luxurious hotels on the island of St. Martin. Belmond La Samanna features 83 different rooms, cottages, and villas.
Some of the amazing amenities of Belmond La Samanna are direct access to nearby beaches, pools overlooking the beautiful Baie Longue, a fitness center, 12,000 bottle wine cellar, two incredible restaurants, spacious rooms, villas, and suites all located on the 55-acre grounds that are filled with lush and green tropical flora and fauna. There is a private infinity pool for guests as well as snorkeling and kayaking gear that is available for guests to rent. The prices of the rooms range from $600 to $1400 per night (€528 to €1,233).
Oyster Bay Beach
Oyster Bay Beach Resort is a four-star resort located in Oyster Pond, on the eastern coast of Sint Maarten near the French/Dutch border. This resort is one of the most legendary places you can choose to stay on the island of Saint Martin. This resort has a stunning view of St. Barts, is located near Dawn Beach, and is close to famous cities on the island such as Grand Case, Orient Bay, and Phillipsburg.
At Oyster Bay Beach Resort there are 180 rooms that are open, airy, and bright. All of the rooms come with views of either the ocean, mountains, or pool. There is a golf course at the resort as well as a restaurant called the Veranda Market and Bistro which offers a wide selection of local and international cuisine for guests to choose from. Other amenities the resort provides are a pool with an infinity bar, kitchenettes in the rooms, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minifridges, microwaves, free parking, beach umbrellas, and snorkeling equipment available to rent for the day. The range of prices for rooms are from $137 to $329 (€120 to €289) per night.
EXPLORE THE ISLAND
Sint Maarten is an autonomous constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands that is located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles island group in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. Covering an area of 34 km2, Sint Maarten forms the southern part of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the northern part of which is occupied by Saint-Martin, an Overseas Collectivity of France. The French island of Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts) is situated to the southeast of Sint Maarten.
The central and northern part of Sint Maarten has a rugged terrain with Mount Flagstaff being its highest point, rising to an elevation of 383 m. The southern part of the island is mainly low-lying and dotted with numerous salt pans, coastal lagoons, sand spits. The boundary between the Dutch and the French halves of the island passes through the center of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The small Little Key island, which is a part of Sint Maarten, is located in the lagoon. The 1.88 km2 Great Salt Pond is the largest pond on Sint Maarten which borders the capital city of Philipsburg. It has been designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International as it hosts several laughing gulls before their breeding season.