Saint Martin is an incredible island, unlike any other. It’s not only the smallest island in the world belonging to two different countries, but it also has a smorgasbord of Caribbean cultures, as well a rich history. Today’s Saint Martin, or Sint Maarten if you’re Dutch, is a bustling tourist destination, filled with adventures and activities for people of all ages. Not sure where to begin planning your incredible Saint Martin excursion? Here’s a five-day itinerary to get you started!
Day One in Saint Martin – Marigot and the French Side
Start your day with a cup of coffee and a heavenly pastry from Sarafina’s in Marigot. Try the chocolate croissants and grab a loaf of French bread for the road. Once you’re done eating, head down the street to Fort Louis. Climb up the steps to the top and enjoy the sea breeze while exploring colonial history. You can touch the antique cannons and imagine that you are a French soldier, fending off attackers. After you’re done, walk down Rue du Republique to Roland Richardson’s Art Gallery. It’s located in a historic building that once was the soldiers’ barracks for the Fort. Thursdays, you’ll find the artist at work and ready to plunge into a fascinating conversation about the town and their art. After the gallery, drive north to Loterie Farm at Pic Paradise. Grab lunch and enjoy the view before heading to the summit. For $5, you can climb the highest point on the island and see St. Barth’s in the distance. Finish your night with a trip to Grand Case, where you’ll find both fine dining and local fare.
Day Two-Orient Bay Beach
You can’t do Saint Martin without visiting its most popular beach, Orient Bay. Rent a paddleboard and spend your morning gliding along over the crystal clear water. Keep an eye out for sea turtles and rays! Get an early lunch at one of the many delicious beach restaurants and relax for a bit by the sea. In the early afternoon, drive a short ways down the road to Pinel Island. You can take a ferry or rent a canoe to the islet. Spend your time chilling on the picturesque sand and feeding wild iguanas, or hike the moderately easy trail around the island and snorkel in the island’s best reef. You can eat dinner at one of the two restaurants on the island before catching the last ferry back to shore.
Day Three- Philipsburg
Head to the Dutch capital and discover how different it is from the French side. Just make sure not to visit Sunday when it’s closed. Start the day at Carl and Sons with a pastry and then get going to the Boardwalk. You can walk the wide path along the edge of the sand and find a beach chair rental for a little relaxation. When you’re ready to shop, check out all the duty-free options on Front and Back Street. Be sure to hit up charming Old Street, too. Walk to Pondfill Road and grab a bite of authentic island fare at Kelty’s Kitch’n. After this, slather on your sunscreen and drive to the cruise ship terminal. Take the ferry to Tiki Hut, a floating restaurant and pool deck in Little Bay. You’ll get to use the Hut’s snorkel equipment and dive into the water to see a sunken plane, helicopter, and boat surrounded by bold fish who will eat out of your hand! Enjoy a casual dinner here before the boat returns you to Great Bay. On your drive back from Tiki Hut, pull off into the parking lot of Divi Little Bay Resort, where you can walk to Fort Amsterdam.
Day 4—Dutch Side Beach Day
Spend your fourth day lounging on Dutch side beaches. Start with breakfast at Zee Best Bakery, and spend a carefree morning lounging, snorkeling, and cliff-jumping at Mullet Bay Beach. Then head to Karakter Beach Bar for lunch and relaxing on plush chairs. When evening comes, go to Skip Jack’s for a top-notch seafood dinner, then catch a movie at the theater in Simpson Bay or partake in your choice of spirited nightlife.
Of course, a visit to the Dutch side wouldn’t’ be complete without a visit to the world-famous Maho Beach. World-famous for getting you up-close and personal with landing traffic at Princess Juliana International Airport. Accordingly, SXM is a plane-spotter’s fantasy.
Day 5—Hidden Treasures
On your final day, head to the peninsular Lowlands for a chance to see Saint Martin’s best kept secrets. Start with a trip to Jule’s in Cupecoy for breakfast. Then drive to Plum Bay in the Les Terres Basses neighborhood; The US’s now President-elect Trump has a house on this beach, which in the future, may(or may not) curtail your enjoyment of this lonely sand. Depending on the season, you can go surfing or snorkeling here. At lunchtime, head over to Baie Rouge beach. You can grab lunch and a frozen drink at the snack area, then take a swim past the rocks on the right side to find a natural tunnel and more hidden beaches. Finally, drive a short ways to Marigot until you hit La Belle Creole. Walk through the remains of this creepy abandoned resort and enjoy the beautiful beach on the other side. End with dinner at Fat Tony’s in Cupecoy.
Final Thoughts…and Another SXM Pic
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is the Caribbean as you’ve always pictured it. With warm people, warm beaches and a beach that lets you nearly “touch the sky”.