With so many things to do in St. Maarten – St. Martin, it’s hard to decide how to best spend your time there. That’s especially true if you’re just passing through on a cruise. Never fear! We’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of the 12 best things to do in St. Maarten!
St. Martin Island Facts
We fell in love with this tiny Caribbean island after visiting for the first time in 2015. St. Martin Island covers only about 34 square miles (88 square kilometers), measuring just 9.8 miles wide at its largest point. The island is divided politically into a north and south half, with the north side belonging to the French (Saint Martin) and the south belonging to the Dutch (Sint Maarten). While you can use U.S. dollars or Euros on the Dutch side, businesses on the French typically prefer Euros.
St. Martin Island is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The island is covered in lush, tropical mountains. The beaches are pristine. Best of all, the people are welcoming. According to one of our taxi drivers, St. Maarten – St. Martin has yet to become very commercialized. Unlike some other Caribbean destinations, the people of the island own the vast majority of the businesses there – meaning they really want you to enjoy their island (and spend your money doing so). As somebody who loves supporting local businesses, I’m totally down with that!
If you’re planning a trip to the island, you’ll quickly discover that there are a ton of things to do in St. Maarten – St. Martin. Whether you’re just stopping by on a cruise or spending the entire week, be sure to check out some of the places listed below!
12 Things to Do in St. Maarten – St. Martin
1) Maho Beach (St. Maarten)
If you do nothing else in St. Maarten, you absolutely must check out Maho Beach. There is no place else like it! The beach actually backs right up to the St. Maarten airport runway – which means that gigantic airplanes fly right over your head all day long. You can even stand behind a 747 and get totally blasted by its jets as it takes off. Seriously, it’s incredible. (I wish I had some video of me standing behind the KLM 747, but my camera woman couldn’t take it and took off running. I made it though!) When we were there, we stayed at the Sonesta Ocean Point / Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and enjoyed watching the planes land and take off all day long. Here are a couple of pictures for you!
2) Pinel Island (St. Martin)
Pinel Island is a tiny little island located right off of Orient Bay on St. Martin’s French side. Take the shuttle from Orient Beach or visit while on a boat tour. The island is inhabited by some friendly iguanas, and there are also a couple of small shops. There’s even a cool little restaurant called Le Karibuni located right on the beach. Grab a drink and belly up to one of the tables on land or in the water!
3) Orient Beach (St. Martin)
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Orient Beach is also the busiest beach on St. Martin Island. Located on the French side, the beach is lined with orange umbrellas and happy beachgoers. If you’re feeling adventurous, there is also a nude optional section for you to enjoy.
4) Mullet Bay (St. Maarten)
Spending the afternoon at this secluded little beach is a great time for singles, couples, and families alike. We spent several hours there, sitting in our beach chairs and enjoying the views. We even did some snorkeling in the bay. There are a couple of small restaurants selling beach fare and drinks. A couple of times a day, a few cruise excursions make their way here. The beach is definitely big enough to accommodate everybody. However, when the cruisers depart, you can practically have the beach to yourself.
5) Zipline at Pic du Paradis (St. Martin)
If you’re into adventure travel, make sure to try the zipline at Pic du Paradis, St. Martin’s highest mountain. Located above the Loterie Farm, you can hike up the mountain or take a taxi. Either way, you’ll experience some incredible views from high above the island.
6) Philipsburg Boardwalk (St. Maarten)
Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side and a favorite port for many of the world’s top cruise lines. If you’re staying on the island or just visiting for the day, be sure to take a stroll down the boardwalk along Great Bay. It’s a lively area, complete with shops, restaurants, and plenty of people watching. When you’re done, pull up a chair and enjoy the beautiful beach along the bay. Cruisers can’t even get lost; just get off the boat, and you’re there.
7) Eat at a Lolo
If you want a fun and cheap St. Maarten dining experience, head to Grand Case and chow down at a lolo. These small barbeque-style restaurants will fill your belly full of delicious food for less than $15 a person. Be sure to try a the Johnny Cakes and crab backs as well. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
8) Rent a Car
One of things to do in St. Maarten – St. Martin is renting a car. That way, you can see the whole island at your own pace. St. Martin is small enough that you can easily drive a car around without getting lost. Because the island is mountainous, some of the terrain is a bit steep. Just take it slow around the curves/cliffs and enjoy some great views of the island from your own rental car.
9) Or Take a Bus
Driving a car seem a little much for you? Try taking a minibus instead. One of the coolest things about St. Martin Island is that you can get almost anywhere by group taxi. Fares are set prices and they run just a couple of bucks. Simply head to one of the “bus stops” and raise your hand when a bus is coming near.
10) Cheri’s Cafe (St. Maarten)
When you’re in the Maho Beach or Mullet Bay area, be sure to visit Cheri’s Cafe. Located just a few blocks north of the SXM runway and a few blocks east of Mullet Bay, this family owned restaurant is an absolute hoot! The food here is very good and the atmosphere is even better. Sit at the bar and enjoy the live entertainment playing each night. Make sure to get your picture taken by the owner and head over to their Facebook page to like it!
11) Casino Royale (St. Maarten)
After dinner, head next door to Casino Royale. This Caribbean casino is larger than most, and has plenty of games for any taste. My wife spent some time playing Hold’em in the poker room while I hit the blackjack and craps tables. The nice thing is that it’s large enough so it never feels crowded. Of course, it’s always more fun when you win!
12) Captain Alan’s Snorkeling
One of my favorite days in St. Martin was spent on Captain Alan’s 3-Island Snorkeling Tour. The tour leaves from Oyster Pond Marina and lasts about 4 hours. You’ll get to experience both Pinel Island and Tintamarre Island, as well as enjoy a boat ride along the beautiful St. Martin coast. You’ll snorkel a reef, swim with sea turtles, and enjoy a nice lunch. The hospitality is awesome, and I highly recommend this tour!
Enjoy St. Martin Island
With so many things to do in St. Maarten – St. Martin, you are sure to enjoy your time on the island. Whether you’re traveling alone or with your family, St. Maarten is a great place to visit. We love it there and think you will too!