As you land in St. Maarten, you’ll get an aerial view of the blue crystal clear waters that await you. Not to mention the crowds that line up to watch the planes land and take off. St. Maarten definitely has a personality of it’s own, and can be somewhat chaotic at times since it’s a popular destination for cruises, yachters and tourists. The most touristic but enjoyable area on the island is Maho Beach. Watching the planes land from the popular Sunset Beach Bar is an experience you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re a thrill seeker, go to the fence just outside of the airport to feel the jet blast of a plane taking off. Make sure you hold on to the fence so you don’t get blown away!
After your drink or adrenaline rush, the gorgeous beach of Mullet Bay is just around the corner. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, plus it’s close to the airport! If you plan to spend more time on the island, Dawn Beach is another notable beach on the other side of the island, along with Orient Beach on the French side. The taxis and car services make it very easy to get around, plus you’ll find that it’s actually quite cheap. In addition to the island’s beautiful beaches, St. Maarten also has a thriving nightlife in Simpson Bay.
While you’ll definitely want to spend some time exploring what St. Maarten has to offer, it’s also a great jumping off point to visit the neighbouring islands of Anguilla and St. Barths. Regardless, if you decide to take a day trip or a mini vacation, always bring your passport!
Known as ‘The Sleepy Island,’ Anguilla is the place to go if you’re looking for a relaxed holiday in paradise. Between the mouthwatering cuisine and picture perfect beaches, it’ll be hard to say goodbye. Ferries from St. Maarten depart frequently and arrive at the Blowing Hole on Anguilla, where taxis are lined up waiting to transport incoming visitors. The nearest beach is Rendezvous Bay, which is a great spot for a beach day and some snorkeling. However, go a bit further to Cove Bay or Shoal Bay for pristine white sand beaches and renowned beachside restaurants. If you prefer to be poolside, the Viceroy is also known for it’s exquisite property and amazing gastronomy.
For some fun in the sun, head up to Sandy Ground Beach, where there is an array of beach bars and grills, but more importantly, tours along the coast and ferries to Sandy Island. If you opt for the tour, you can rent a boat or tiger shark (a type of jet ski), and a guide will bring you to all the best spots in the area. You’ll see Little Bay, which is one of the most difficult beaches to access on the island and a prime spot for cliff jumping. You’ll also go to Sandy Island, where nothing but a beach bar and a few hammocks occupy this tiny spec of sand. As if being on an island in the Caribbean wasn’t good enough and you need to take it one step further, get yourself to Sandy Island where true tropical bliss awaits. If you decide to skip out on the tour, ferries over to Sandy Island run for about $10 per person round trip.
Flights from St. Maarten to Anguilla are available, but ferries are actually the best way to go. The Calypso Charters and Funtime Charters office is 5 minutes from the airport, with charters departing almost every hour. Regular one-way tickets are $20 USD plus an $8 USD departure fee from St. Maarten.
If you’re looking for a more posh and lively getaway, St. Barths is for you! A day trip from St. Maarten is possible, but it won’t give you even a taste of what the island has to offer. Gustavia is a great starting point for new visitors, where huge yachts line the harbour. After snapping a few photos of the impressive mega yachts, the tiny romantic streets and endless boutiques will keep you captivated for hours. Definitely stop for lunch or dinner here, as it will be pretty difficult to find a bad meal in Gustavia. Bonito is without a doubt one of the best restaurants, offering delectable Venezuelan influenced dishes and a chic ambiance. For a more low key experience, the snack bar, Le Select, is a great spot for lunch.
If you’re looking to party like the rich and famous, make your way to the Baie de St. Jean where you’ll find the infamous Nikki Beach and Eden Rock. Both places are great for lunch and the Baie de St. Jean is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. If you’re in St. Barth’s on a Sunday, make a reservation at Nikki Beach, as it’s the place to be!
For a more secluded beach experience, hike to Anse de Colombier Beach on the west side of the island. Since this white sand beach is only accessible by sea or foot, you’ll find it to be very quiet but totally worth visiting. If you’re lucky, you might even have this beach all to yourself!
Thirty-minute flights depart almost hourly from St. Maarten with Winair, and are the most efficient way to get to St. Barths. There are also high-speed catamarans for about $150 roundtrip. Voyager Express and Great Bay Express make the trip in 45 minutes, but be warned, the water between the islands can be choppy.