Sint Maarten Beaches

Exploring the beaches of  St. Maarten.

At the end of the year, as the winter days get shorter and the holidays approach, we decided to take some news before we started in the new year. Going to the Caribbean to spend time together, away from our laptops, thinking about the past year and taking a deep breath before the year ahead was exactly what we needed.

It is in this spirit that we left our base in Berlin in mid-December for St. Maarten, the Dutch part of a Caribbean island divided in two with its French counterpart St.

Beautiful beaches in the Caribbean

Although we were not completely disconnected from the Internet and the world during our stay in Sint Maarten, we found that moving away from all that was familiar and routine - and giving us a dose of sun and warmth - allowed us to relax, step back and enjoy time together as an ordinary married couple (i.e. not as business partners). Not to mention that a kind of decompression seems to occur naturally when one looks at the water on the horizon for long periods of time.

Thus, pressing the pause button from time to time in one's life creates a space to disconnect, reconnect and clarify what matters most.

We explored the island of St. Maarten / St. Martin as part of the #ChoiceCaribbean campaign. Maarten / St. Martin is sponsored by Choice Hotels as part of the campaign, and we received our stay at the hotel and our airfare as part of this campaign. Experiences, stories and opinions are entirely ours.

Update: St. Maarten / St. Martin was severely affected by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. We have updated this article accordingly to try to ensure that all of the following activities and recommendations are still available.

Going off the beaten track in St. Maarten / St. Martin

The idea of this trip, as with most of our trips, was to go beyond the obvious - in this case, the beaches. It was a question of exploring both sides of the island - Dutch St. Martin to the south and French St. Martin to the north - and to follow the suggestions, on and off the tourist trail, to live experiences that moved us.

We were tempted to park on one of the many beaches we sampled and never leave. But we also knew that there was more to discover and do in St. Maarten than it seems at first glance.

Then we would be lying if we told you that St. Maarten is not very touristy. It would be very easy to visit and see only the developed areas and traffic areas of the island and draw your experience and conclusions from it, but dig a little deeper and you will find a dimension of the island that few others see. On several occasions, we found ourselves surrounded by a wild, soulless nature.

Things to do in St. Maarten, Hiking

Use of a selfish; no one else to take a picture of us during the hike of the Froussards Trail.

We have allowed us to fully live our experience of St. Martin by talking with as many people as possible. Our goal is to get closer and better understand this island of 80,000 inhabitants that welcomes an astonishing 3.7 million travelers per year, and discover a variety of experiences that speak to both adventure and relaxation.

That's where this guide comes in. Choose from the experiences below to compose the St. Martin itinerary that best matches your travel goals.

How to use this travel guide: We created this experimental travel guide on St. Maarten/St. Martin with our favorite and recommended activities, beaches, restaurants and day trips to our 10-day tour of the island. Our goal is to provide you with a diverse inspiration on things to do in St. Maarten/St. Martin and practical travel tips to create or complete your itinerary.

20 things to do, see and live in St. Maarten/ St.

1. Wake up early and go for a run (or walk) in Cupecoy Bay and enjoy a Caribbean beach for yourself.

If running is not your thing, trade it with walking or cycling. Whatever you do, get up early and head for the cliffs. You will be rewarded not only by the soft glow of the morning light, but also by a Caribbean beach for yourself.

Empty St. Maarten Beach

The view from our race path, from Maho Bay to Cupecoy Bay, St.

2. The 12-metre challenge: Run and take control of a real America's Cup boat.

Update November 2018: Fortunately, the 12-Metre Challenge circuit has been operational again since October 2018. Racing sailboats and operations were damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and they had to interrupt the circuit for a while, but we are happy to see that it is available again as it is a great experience.

Yes, this experience can take you on THE winning boat of the 1987 America's Cup, the Stars and Stripes. Just that, it's pretty exciting. Get on board the boat, and each of your group is assigned a crew position. From there, you get a quick lesson, you train a little, the coxsman gives the orders and with a traditional start of 6 minutes, it's off to the races.

You assist and participate directly in the teamwork necessary to fly such a boat on the water. This became even more evident - and dramatic - as we sailed through a brief tropical storm with the wind blowing its sails and our boat sculpting slightly terrifying angles.

But what really distinguished this experience was the competition. We raced against another America's Cup boat (True North, Canada) according to the standard regatta rules, which gave us a little taste of the adrenaline of a real race.

The adventure of sailing in St. Maarten

The 12-Metre Challenge, back ashore after a successful race.

The only danger of this experience is that it can make you want to take sailing lessons and rent your own sailboat to go around the Caribbean. Not that we're talking about experience or anything...

How to do it: The 12 Metre Challenge is located at Maarten Dock, Philipsburg. Note: Cruise ship passengers must make reservations through their cruise line This experience was provided to us as a medium.

3. Escape all this with a hike in Guana Bay.

It's easy to find yourself in the tourist areas of St. Maarten and ask yourself: "Is this all there is to do on the island? However, a short drive up the hill to the southeast corner of the island and Guana Bay allowed us to take a first look at another kind of St. Martin/St. Martin.

Hiking on St. Maarten

Hiking in Guana Bay with our guide, Joost.

Trekking from Guana Bay to Pointe Blanche is one of the places on the island where you will find yourself surrounded by wild and soulless nature, with the possible exception of a few goats.

How to do this: This trek is organized by Tri Sport. They offer a few departures each day in high season. We recommend you choose the morning departure (9 o'clock) as you will avoid the hot heat and the sun. Joost, our guide, provided a great historical and environmental context. Not to mention that it is a source of useful information and recommendations for other treks.  Disclosure: This experience was provided to us as a medium.

4. Marvel at the planes flying over Maho Bay Beach.

We have never been to a destination where the airport is such a tourist attraction. But sit on Or near Maho Bay Beach and you'll quickly understand why. The photo below says a lot. It seems to have been retouched by Photoshop, but it's not.

Observation of a plane in St. Maarten

Extreme aircraft observation in Maho Bay, St. Maarten.

How to do this: You can stay on the beach to watch the planes land, but we recommend the Sunset Bar as the perfect place to take a breathless photo of the jet. You can also check the arrival schedule at SXM Airport and try to find out which flights the largest planes will have. You can also look beautiful at The Driftwood Bar, on the other side of the beach. Air France and KLM use the largest jets

5. A day trip to Shoal Bay, Anguilla, to relax on the number one beach in the Caribbean.

On our first day in St. Maarten, we heard Shoal Bay beach describe us as "paradise on earth". That the recommendation came from a long-time resident with experience throughout the Caribbean told us that we had to go. But we visited many 'best beaches', so we managed our expectations.

Anguilla Beach, Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay blues, with one side of the paddle.

Shoal Bay beach has been overtaken. Not only was the beach a carpet of white sand, soft and pristine, but the light and water played a range of blues like never before, except for the glaciers of Antarctica. The blue glow may seem almost artificial and HDR, but this is not the case. It's just the way Mother Nature worked in this part of the world. We now understand why this beach is ranked number one in the Caribbean and number 5 in the world.

The restaurant we went to was a simple local family establishment, which gave an impression of traditional and appropriate Caribbean relaxation.

Anguilla Shoal Bay Beach

Shoal Bay Beach, Anguilla - a small slice of nostalgia and life on the Caribbean beach.

How to do this: We took a one-day package that included a fast boat from St.

6. To surpass yourself at Paradise Peak.

There is something to be done to get to the highest point in order to have some perspective. An aerial view of St. Martin (and St. Martin) from the lookout of Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island at 424 meters, allows you to see the contours of the earth and see how all the places you have visited come together.

St Maartin Pic Paradise

Paradise Peak, overlooking the summit of St. Martin.

How to do this: We followed the Pic Paradis signs from the main road between Marigot and Grand Case and parked on the side of the road that goes up from the Lottery farm (it was closed on the day of our visit on Monday). From there we made a relatively short but steep walk to the top. Otherwise, if you have a four-wheel drive car, you can drive almost all the way to the top and lookout.

7. Drive a Rhino along the west coast of St. Martin.

 He did this so that everyone - from children over 90 - could enjoy the experience.

I remember flipping a jet ski during a university break many years ago, so I was relieved to discover that this jet ski/zodiac hybrid couldn't be rocked. It took me a few minutes to get used to the Rhino and what it could do in terms of speed, turns and tricks, but once we did, it was fun and addictive.

Things to do in St. Maarten, drive a Rhino

Driving a "rhino" on the west coast of St. Martin.

Moreover, having spent time sitting in traffic driving the western part of the island, it was a nice change to enjoy the same areas away from the water.

8. Cross the border and practice your French.

 Martin is that the island has been divided between the French and the Dutch for over 350 years. Today, the Dutch side is an independent country, while the French part remains a territory of France. 

St. Martin's Border

Cross the border, like St. Martin.

Although there are no border controls between sides and countries, you will always see welcome signs every time you cross the island. Cross the Dutch side to the north and you will have the opportunity to practice your French. You will also see a different style of architecture and urbanism. Not to mention that bread and pastries are, unsurprisingly, better on the French side of the border.

9. Relax on Mullet Bay Beach.

There is no shortage of postcard beaches on the island. One of our favourite beaches for relaxing, swimming and sunbathing is Mullet Bay. As there is a golf course on one side of the beach, it is somewhat protected from the development and shade of large buildings.

St. Maarten Beaches, Mullet Bay 

Mullet Bay Beach in the morning.

Of course, we are not the only ones who have discovered this beach. But, we noticed that if we went there before noon or after 3 p.m., it emptied as the passengers of the day returned to the cruise ships. It's ideal for a morning reading or a late afternoon nap.

A note on the beaches of St. Maarten / St. Martin: All the beaches of the island are public, which means you have access to all the ones you want. Some beaches offer the rental of sun loungers and umbrellas, usually arranged by restaurants or bars, but you have the right to dip your beach towel at random and enjoy the beach for free.