A beautiful Caribbean Island with diverse landscape to explore, enjoy and inspire an encapsulating holiday. Dual owned by France and the Netherlands, St Martin is a paradise Island with a fabulous fusion of culture.
Apart from sipping a cocktail or two there is much to see and do – St Martin is safe to explore, the mountainous terrain alongside the stunning white sandy beaches give this island a real flavour of the Caribbean mixed with a cosmopolitan flare and sophistication.
Places of interest and things to do…
Fort St Louis is the largest historical monument on St Martin dating back to 1767 and named after the King of France built to protect the city of Marigot against invasion. The view is really worth the climb to the top – the turquoise sea and the islands beauty is showcased from this panoramic viewpoint.
Marigot is the capital city of St Martin’s French half and is a beautiful mix of Caribbean and French sophistication. The architecture is predominantly colonial in style and like many French market towns there are cafes, bistros and lovely patisseries offering mouth-watering pastries. Shopping here is really quite luxurious with designer boutiques and a fabulous harbour area with a variety of stores to browse.
On the Dutch side the Capital Philipsburgh is a tax free haven with fantastic bargains to tempt even the most careful of shoppers!
St Martin is the yachting Mecca of the Caribbean and there is no shortage of magnificent yachts anchored in the marina around the Island. Charter one of these majestic vessels and enjoy the open sea or explore nearby islands – Anguilla with its quiet beaches, fine restaurants and laid back ambience is the nearest Island to St Martin but there are several that offer something different to explore. Cruising these wonderful waters means you can make the most of the vibrant sea life make sure to take snorkel gear and visit some of the best areas – Prickley Pear Island near Anguilla is well known for great snorkelling.
Carnival time – just the word carnival brings to mind bright colours, dancing, music and merriment! St Martin spoils you with not just one annual carnival but two! The French carnival takes place over lent; the streets of Marigot and Grand Case become alive during this time.
On April 29th each year the larger carnival on the Dutch side takes place, lasting for 17 nights, both carnivals are sure to wow with the vibrant costumes colourful music and joyous frivolity that overtakes the streets and people of this wonderful island.
Explore the seaside nature reserve on the Dutch side of the island on horseback. Starting from Cay Bay the many trails will lead you to old coves that are reputed as hiding places for the ill-gotten treasures from pirates of old! This experience also gives you the opportunity to swim with the horses and you will see many foals with their mothers as they roam freely around the nature reserve.
If you want to delve into St Martin’s history perhaps visit Musee de Marigot or Sint Maarten national heritage foundation on the Dutch side in Philipsburgh and discover more about the past of the people and places of the region.
St Martin is known to offer some of the best fine dining in the Caribbean. Grand Case on the French side has earned itself the unofficial title “Gourmet Capital” of the Caribbean. You will find fine French restaurants; fabulous Italian restaurants or for something more authentic to the native surroundings try one of the Creole restaurants.
There are many restaurants on St Martin all of a high standard, on the Dutch side there is Atlantis Casion complex with several fine restaurants where you can enjoy a five star meal. Simpson Bay also is host to a number of great eating establishments, finding good food and equally good surroundings is not a problem.
Whilst staying on St Martin you will be spoilt for choice as to which beach to visit – here are five that provide something for everyone.
Orient beach – a beautiful beach with a lively atmosphere a mix of clothed and natural sun bathing – the long stretch of beach allows that you can sunbath in your comfort zone! There are many good restaurants along the beach and a sociable beach bar.
Mullet Bay – good for surfing and next to St Martin’s only golf course this beach is popular with the locals and is a typical Caribbean beach with white sands and waves lapping the shore line. There are some rocks which make for good snorkelling and views over to the Island Saba an unspoilt island that boasts some of the most intact and unspoilt reef in the Caribbean.
Dawn Beach is a great spot to take in the stunning sunrise with views of the nearby island of St Barts in the distance. With soft white sands and emerald green waters walk along the coastline and stop off for a beachside bite to eat.
Galion Beach – great for families! The diversity of this beach means that one end is great for young children with calm shallow waters with the other end with good surf and is great for water sports, unspoilt and uncluttered this is the perfect beach to hang out with family and friends.
Bay Rouge – soft sand with a pinkish hue gave this beach its name, the waters here are calmer due to Bay Rouge facing the Caribbean Sea rather than the Atlantic Ocean so is good for swimming although slightly rocky approaching the sea. You can swim following the shore line to the east and discover a small private beach where there is a cave that is great for snorkelling that you can swim through. Climb the rocks to view the Devils Hole an ‘O’ shaped opening in the flooded cliff rocks.
There is so much to explore and enjoy in St Martin with this just a small taste of what to expect and with luxury villas giving a more intimate style of accommodation but with many hotel benefits you can tailor your Caribbean holiday perfectly to create your dream come true holiday!
photo credit: Pazzani