Imagine a tropical island with a special mixture of European and Caribbean culture and you have St Martin. St Martin vacations are growing in popularity with tourists getting the French St Martin and Dutch St Maarten for the price of one. Here are some of the best things to do on both sides of the island.
1. Cupecoy Beach:
Cupecoy Beach is on the southwestern tip of St Maarten. Three beaches are separated by cliffs and is one of the places recommended to watch the sunset. Restaurants and bars line the beach for a romantic meal afterwards. Be aware if you’re coming here with a family that some parts of the beach are naturist friendly.
2. Hike Up to Fort Louis
This historical monument is the largest in St Maarten sitting above Marigot. Fort Louis was built in the 18th century to defend against the French invaders and stands in ruins today. This was a major site for battles between the locals fending off European powers. A few rusting cannons are sprinkled around the site. Hiking up to the top is reasonably easy and the views of the island below make the effort worth it.
3. Visit St Maarten Zoological Park:
Visiting the largest zoological park in the Caribbean is a good way to spend an afternoon in St Maarten. Visitors can see a range of mammals and tropical birds flying around the center, which is a highlight for families. Tropical gardens provide shade from the unrelenting sun and make for a great place to relax. St Maarten Zoological Park is near Salt Lake in Philipsburg.
4. Take a Day Trip to Prickly Pear:
This small, uninhabited island near the coast of Anguilla has some of the best snorkeling on St Martin. Three reefs sit on the seabed and thousands of tropical fish swim in the clear waters. A number of birds live on the island as well as the occasional non-lethal shark. One of the highlights of Prickly Pear is the seclusion making it an ideal place for relaxation. Day trips to the island leave Wednesdays on a catamaran. A BBQ lunch is part of the package. The men help put the sail up on the way out and the women give it try on the return journey.
5. Climb to the Highest Point on St Martin Island:
Pic Paradise, reaching a height of 424 meters, is in the center of St Maarten. Several trails of varying difficulty from easy strolls to multiple kilometer trails go to the peak of this hill. Most start near Loterie Farm, which is described in the next point. Hikers will have panoramic views of the white buildings and the French village of Orleans. Lagoons, Orient Bay, and even Anguilla on the horizon wow visitors on a clear day.
6. Go Ziplining at Loterie Farm:
Loterie Farm isn’t exactly a farm anymore. The farm started as a sugar plantation in 1773 and operated until 1855. Today more than 150 acres of former farmland give tourists the opportunity to go hiking and cycling around trails. A wide variety of flora and fauna exist too. If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, you can also take an epic zip-line in the Zone Extreme part of Loterie Farm, which is said to be the longest in the western hemisphere.
7. Watch the Planes Land Above Your Head:
Princess Juliana International Airport’s runway is a few meters away from Maho Beach. As planes land and take-off, the jet itself is around 30 meters above your head. Some people like to hang onto the fence to feel the rush of jet air pass over them when the plane takes off. Watching the jumbo jets and tourists is a fun activity. The arrivals and departures are available online or listed at a few of the bars and restaurants along Maho Beach.
8. Relax on Mullet Bay Beach:
This beach is a short distance from Maho and is surrounded by lush vegetation in a moon-shaped bay. Surfers and snorkelers come in their numbers as well as tourists sunbathing on the white sand. Typical activities include regular games of volleyball and parties at weekends.
9. Enjoy the Philipsburg Boardwalk:
Philipsburg is the capital city of St Maarten and offers a variety of duty-free shopping, casinos, and a long boardwalk stretching around Great Bay Beach. Everyone from all walks of life come here for a late afternoon stroll or an early morning jog whilst admiring the natural beauty of the surroundings. Vendors sell local food and hotdogs for passersby looking for a snack. Other dining options are available along the coastline ranging from cheap street food to high-end restaurants.
10. Visit Fort Amsterdam:
The first Dutch settlers on the island built the fort to mark the spot where they landed in 1631. Near to Little Bay and Great Bay on the outskirts of Philipsburg, this 17th century fort lies in ruins with only a few turrets remaining. Spanish invaders captured the fort and renovated and expanded the structure. However, it was abandoned just a few years later when the Spanish departed from Saint Martin. Dutch settlers reclaimed and renamed it Fort Amsterdam in 1737. This is an important historical monument on the island and is worth checking out.
The Perfect Vacation to St Martin
Visitors have many activities to keep them busy in both parts of St Martin including relaxing on the beach, exploring uninhabited islands, and hiking along lush trails. There’s a reason why vacationing is becoming very popular here.