Things to do in St. Martin: The Ultimate Guide

Known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the island of St. Martin is part of the Leeward Islands, which can be found in the northeastern Caribbean Sea and consists of several smaller islands, including St Martin, St. Barts, Antigua, St. Kitts, and Barbuda. Historically these islands were the first in the Caribbean to fall under Spanish control. However, their rule was quickly contested, resulting in a history of British, French, Dutch, and Spanish colonialism in the region that left its mark on each island. 

In the case of St. Martin, the country is divided between two separate countries. Although it was first discovered by Christopher Colombus in 1493 and claimed as a Spanish territory, Spain never made a formal settlement on the island. However, France and the Netherlands wanted the island for themselves, which resulted in a tug-of-war that ultimately ended in a truce. Today the island is divided between the north side, known as Saint Martin, a collectivity of France in the West Indies, and the southern side, known as Sint Maarten, owned by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. The Dutch side is known for its nightlife, beaches, jewelry, and drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors. While the French side of Saint Martin is a hotspot for tourists looking for some shopping therapy, beaches, and French-Caribbean fusion cuisine. Although both sides are known as party-hotspots, the island itself is home to different enclaves, cays, and hidden beaches for anyone looking to escape it all. 

This rich historical mixture of African, Spanish, French, British, and Dutch cultural influences on Saint Martin, and the surrounding islands, has transformed this region into a unique and intriguing travel destination. When visiting the Leeward Islands, it’s always best to rent a yacht to explore each island’s unique offerings. St. Martin is famous for its secluded coves, beautiful beaches, and European-Caribbean fusion cuisine. St. Barts is renowned for luxurious getaways and is the perfect place to spot some superyachts. Anguilla’s 33 beaches are the epitome of paradise—unspoiled, uncrowded and a joy to explore. Barbuda is known for its pink sand beaches and protective reefs. And last but not least, St. Kitts and Nevis are where visitors can eat authentic Caribbean food while lounging on pure-white sand beaches overlooking gorgeous tropical forests and blue-green waters.

There are many things to do in St. Martin, and traveling there can be an unforgettable experience. Before we get a closer look at the many attractions on the Friendly Island, let’s look at some key pieces of information you need to know before you go:

  • American citizens don’t need a visa to enter Saint-Martin, nor Sint Maarten. 
  • The Euro is the official currency in Saint-Martin, while the Netherlands Antilles Florin (NAF, also called the guilder) is the official currency in Sint Maarten. However, the US Dollar is accepted all over the island, and there are plenty of exchange locations and banks on the island. Some taxi companies only accept Dollars.
  • Saint Martin is very popular for its parties. There you can dance to a variety of Caribbean typical music, such as Calypso, Merengue, Soca, Zouk, and Reggae. 
  • Saint Martin is a tax-free island, so you can pick up souvenirs for a lower price than other Caribbean islands. Popular souvenirs are handmade Dutch porcelain, perfumes, cosmetics, spicy sauces, jewelry, and designer clothing.
  • Saint Martin is the culinary capital of the Caribbean, with a wide variety of French, Creole, and Dutch cuisine. You will find fine drinks there, like French wine, flavored liqueurs, and rum. There is also a variety of cheese.
  • Saint Martin is famous for its products made of Guavaberry, such as liqueurs, jams, and desserts.
  • Do you want to explore the coast of both Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten? Yachting is the best way to do so. Hollywood star Morgan Freeman has famously enjoyed yachting on the island. It is important to note that due to its proximity to Antigua and St. Barts, a typical one-week yacht itinerary would include a trip to each of these islands. 

How to Get to & Around St. Martin

Daily flights depart from the U.S. and arrive at Princess Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten, the main airport on the island. You will find both direct and stop-over flights. There is also an airport on the French side of the island, Espérance Grand-Case, that offers flights to other Caribbean islands. You can also take ferries to the islands nearby. There is no border control between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.

Chartering a yacht is the best way to move around St Martin, especially if you’d like to visit any of the nearby islands. Once you have embarked on your charter yacht, some of the nearby islands you can explore on your itinerary include Anguilla, Saba, Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Barts. And each of these islands has its own unique offering. For example, Anguilla is known for its coral reef and beaches, perfect for diving or snorkeling. So whether you want to dive among sunken ships in St. Kitts, drop anchor in St. Barts to go shopping, or bury your toes in white-sand beaches on Anguilla, then chartering a yacht in St. Martin is the perfect option for you. 

St. Martins is one of the most popular sailing destinations in the Caribbean, primarily because of the variety of things you can do within the region. In one day, you can go scuba diving with the fish, try your luck at a casino, eat world-class cuisine and even fit in some duty-free shopping before heading out for some drinks and dancing. Yachting in and around St. Martin offers remote, unspoiled anchorages, secluded Caribbean coves, stunning beaches, and fantastic coral reefs. A Caribbean cruising destination with a European twist. 

Best Time to Visit 

St. Martin has a tropical climate, which means it is sunny and warm throughout the year.  Wind conditions on a St Martin sailing itinerary also make for some of the best sailing conditions in the world. Winter winds are usually northeast, 15–25 knots, and summer winds come from the south-east, around 15–25 knots.

The most popular times to visit St. Martin are from mid-December to mid-April, the island’s warm and dry season. It is also the peak tourism season. The temperatures vary between 70°F to 86°F, which allows you to enjoy the sunny days while lounging on one of the 37 beaches on the island. Peak season also means crowds and high prices, especially if you visit the island between mid-February to March. The island is especially overcrowded during American holidays, so if possible, try to avoid visiting during Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, and the President’s Day. However, one of the best ways to beat the crowds is to charter your own yacht in St. Martin. January and April may provide you with a better experience, allowing you to enjoy the weather while avoiding the crowds. 

The island is also home to many different festivals. In March every year, Heineken holds a world-class race called the Heineken Regatta. In November, the Race Course de L’Alliance is also held, allowing individuals to participate if they have their own charter boat. Then there is Carnival which starts in mid-April and lasts around three weeks. Carnival is celebrated on the whole island. However, the main parade still happens in the Dutch part. 

If you want to avoid the intense flood of tourists during peak season, you can also visit St. Martin during the shoulder season between May and June. During this time, the temperature is around 74°F to 88°F. June is also the beginning of the hurricane season, so rain showers are more common. However, there is a low chance of a bad storm. The off-season is from July to November, which is also the rainy season. Most days are sunny, but there is a higher risk of storms and hurricanes. 

What to Pack

St. Martin is a tropical paradise, so you will want to spend as much time as possible lounging in the sun or swimming in the ocean. As you will spend most of your time outside in nature, make sure to pack casual and light clothes. As St. Martin is also known for its restaurants and lively nightlife, it would be wise to pack a fancy item or two just in case. We recommend packing: 

  • T-shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses—think tropics. So make sure to pack lightweight natural fabrics. 
  • Flip-flops, walking shoes, and sandals. Make sure to pack a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • Swimwear—make sure to pack a cover-up like a kaftan or a sarong when walking around in public areas. 
  • Protection from the sun, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • A light jacket, long sleeve shirt, and pants for cooler evenings
  • Bug Spray

Things to Do in Saint Martin 

As mentioned previously, St Martin is an island divided into two nations. The collective is often referred to as Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten or SXM. There are significant cultural differences between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, although they share a small island. There is no border control between the two, so you can visit and experience the two cultures. Sint Maarten has an exciting nightlife, with lots of pubs, nightclubs, and casinos. Saint Martin has many nudist beaches, markets and offers rich gastronomy. Let’s take a closer look at both of these sides. 

Things to do in St. Maarten

St. Maarten is the name of the Dutch side of the island. Its official language is Dutch, but English is commonly spoken, as well as Creole dialect. St. Maarten is known for its vivid nightlife, with many bars, nightclubs, and casinos. It is also famous for its Maarten’s Guavaberry, a sugary sweet and slightly acidic fruit. This tiny berry is used to make St. Maarten’s National drink: Guavaberry liqueur. The liqueur is made from fine oak-aged rum, cane sugar, and ripe local guava berries and it has a woody, fruity, spicy, bitter-sweet flavor all wrapped into one. 

Some tourist attractions in St. Maarten are:

  • Philipsburg: Philipsburg is the capital of Dutch St. Maarten and is located on a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and Great Salt Pond. The town is known as a tax-free shopping haven. On Front Street in the shopping district, travelers can buy almost anything their heart desires—all at a great price. If shopping isn’t your thing, visitors can enjoy the city’s art galleries, historic forts, casinos, zoos, or beach-front restaurants. 
  • Rockland Estate: operated by Rainforest Adventures, Rockland Estate is an eco-adventure park. The park is famous for having the steepest zipline in the world, known as the Flying Dutchman. The zipline drops from more than 1,000 feet in elevation at 56 miles per hour. The park also offers a schooner inner tube track and a canopy tour. After many adventures, the park’s restaurant will help you reset your energy with delicious meals and refreshing drinks.
  • Maho Beach: the island’s main airport, Princess Juliana, is located just steps away from Maho Beach, meaning that travelers can get an up-close-and-personal view of planes in the process of landing just meters above your head. If you prefer to watch the planes landing from a distance, you can also head on over to Sunset Bar and Grill, which was initially opened in 1942
  • Topper’s Rhum Factory: this distillery produces more than 50 different flavors of delicious rum. You can take a tour of the factory to see how the rum is made and taste it for free. 
  • Guavaberry Emporium: another favorite for rum lovers, the Guavaberry Emporium is an excellent place to taste some of the local liquor made from rum, sugar cane, and guava berry naturally found on the island. The Emporium is also the best place to pick up a bottle or two to take home with you. 
  • Mullet Bay: that beach is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny day, with a stunning landscape of white sand, crystal-clear blue water, palm trees, protected coves, and a famous swimming spot. 

Compared to its French counterpart, St. Maarten is the place to go if you are looking for some adventure or a place to party the night away. The Dutch side is home to over 20 different casinos and many different nightclubs, including Lotus, the island’s leading dance club. St. Maarten is also known for its beautiful beaches, including Cupecoy Beach, an LGBT-friendly beach surrounded by limestone cliffs with a clothing-optional section, and Dawn Beach, a snorkeling haven with crystal clear blue waters. If you are looking for adventure, you may spend more time on the Dutch side.

Things to do in Saint-Martin

Saint-Martin is the name of the French side of the island and is part of the French Republic and the European Union. Although French is the official language, English is also commonly spoken as well as French-based Creole dialectic. Saint-Martin is famous for its nudist beaches and its gastronomy. Some interesting tourist spots are:

  • Loterie Farm: Names can be deceiving, especially in this particular case. The Loterie Farm is not an actual farm. Instead, it is a serene private nature reserve that is home to several treetop adventure obstacle courses and hiking trails, a pool area, and several restaurants. This former 18th-century sugar plantation is located at the foot of one of the tallest mountains in St. Martin, Pic Paradise. Visitors can hike, lounge by the pool in a cabana, or even zipline through the over 135 acres of forest treetops. 
  • Fort Saint Louis: located in Marigot Bay, this fort was built in 1767 to defend the bay. The biggest draw, however, is the view across Marigot Harbour and the hills above Bellevue. You can even see the silhouette of Anguilla island in the distance if the skies are clear enough.  
  • Tijon Perfumerie: Have you ever wanted to create your signature scent? Well, now you can. The Tijon Perfumerie makes custom fragrances with Caribbean flavors. Visitors can either buy already created fragrances or can create their own custom scene from start to finish. 
  • Grand Case: this town is famous for its restaurants, which offer classy French and Caribbean food. Some of the best are Le Soleil, Ocean 82, Piazza Pascal, and Auberge Gourmande. If you enjoy fine cuisine, Grand Case is the place you are looking for.

If you are looking to relax and enjoy a little bit of peace during your vacation, then look no further. The pleasures of this side of the island are legendary. When you enter the French side of St. Martin, you are entering France. It is as much a part of France as Nice or Marseille. The French influence on the island is noticeable, and as a result, it is not to stumble across fantastic wine, cheese, and European imports. 

The beaches on this side are also equally stunning. Some of the more popular beaches to visit are Orient Beach, where clothing is optional, Le Galion, Red Bay Beach, and Friar’s Bay Beach are some of the most famous. 

Chartering a Yacht in St. Martin

St. Martin is a paradisiac tropical island in the Caribbean, with many other islands nearby. Gorgeous turquoise blue-green waters surround the island itself on every side. As a result, one of the most popular things to do on St. Martin is to get off the island! Sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and snorkeling are one of the best activities that you can do in St. Martin. And what better way to get off the island and explore its waters than by chartering a yacht in St. Martin. 

St. Martin is the heart of the Lesser Antilles, meaning that it is pretty close to other popular islands, including Anguilla and St. Barts. When chartering a yacht from St. Martins, our week-long itineraries can include a stop in both of the islands mentioned above. So what is so special about Anguilla and St. Barts?

After embarking on your sailing itinerary at Anse Marcel Marina and spending some time on St. Martin, we will inevitably head on over to Anguilla. This British territory is known as one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. There we will spend the day cruising around cays and coves while also taking the time to jump into the island’s crystal clear waters to explore its underwater world. We will drop anchor in Road Bay, the main port of Anguilla, and explore the island’s many quaint beach bars and cafes. For a dash of luxury, we will then sail off to St. Barts for some shopping and dining at the European-influenced port town of Gustavia. But shopping isn’t the only thing to do in St. Barts. We will discover beaches like Anse de Colombier, where the water is so clear you can see right to the bottom, and Anse de Saline, a pristine secluded bay where the only footprints on the beach will be your own. 

Chartering a yacht is the best way to explore what St. Martin and the surrounding islands have to offer. Yachting provides the most complete, all-inclusive experience of the islands. Our yachting experiences combine freedom with adventure and luxury. Whatever you want is all within reach. All you need to do is ask. Picture yourself watching the sun set over the water while enjoying a delicious chef-prepared four-course meal. Or how about waking up in a secluded cove, only to spend lunch gambling at a casino and dinner at one of the finest restaurants in the Caribbean. Is there anything better? 

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway for two, a family vacation, or that perfect girl’s trip, charting a yacht in St. Martin is just what the doctor ordered. Our yachts also have extensive items on board for you to enjoy, including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and some offer scuba diving from the yacht. The big yachts even have a hot tub or jet ski. 

If you want to have the best experience of St. Martin, consider chartering a yacht. Let us know your dates, budget, and the number of guests. We will be happy to find you the best option and walk you through the process. A catamaran that sleeps six people and has a captain can be as low as $10,000 per week, but you can add meals and drinks to make it all-inclusive, starting around 15k. Isn’t it time to go on that ultimate getaway? We are waiting to welcome you. 

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