The island of Saint Martin is truly a gem within the Caribbean. Saint Martin is known for its stunning natural beauty, its unique mixture of cultures, its rich history, its delicious cuisine, and its plethora of interesting activities for all kinds to engage in. There is so much to experience on this tiny island nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The geography of St. Martin varies from lush and hilly terrain to pristine white sandy beaches lined with swaying palm trees. The rugged and beautiful geography of Sint Maarten is something that tourists from all over the world come to experience. Saint Martin has 37 different gorgeous and unique beaches to experience, a vast number of historical sites to visit, as well as nature reservations and activities to try. There is plenty to see on the island, but there are certain experiences and locations in St. Maarten that stand above the rest. The best places to see in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Fort Louis
- Loterie Farm
- Seaside Nature Park
- Friar’s Bay
- Grand Case
- Pinel Island
- Maho Beach
- Orient Bay
- Red Bay
- Cupecoy Beach
Table of Contents
- 1. Fort Louis
- 2. Loterie Farm
- 3. Seaside Nature Park
- 4. Friar’s Bay
- 5. Grand Case
- 6. Pinel Island
- 7. Maho Beach
- 8. Orient Bay
- 9. Red Bay
- 10. Cupecoy Beach
- How much time do you need to see everything in St. Martin?
1. Fort Louis
Fort Louis sits atop a hill located in Marigot Bay, French Saint Martin, and is one of the oldest structures on the island of Saint Martin. The structure dates back to 1789 and was built in the city of Marigot because at the time the city contained several warehouses that stored goods such as sugarcane, rum, coffee, and salt. The settlers built Fort Louis so that they could protect their goods from invaders and enemy attacks.
Fort Louis overlooks Marigot Bay and has gorgeous panoramic views, from Fort Louis you can see towns such as Marigot, Baie Nettle, Simpson bay, and as far as the island of Anguilla. There is a short but steep climb upstairs to this fort where you can see replicas of cannons that were often used in battle during battles between the French and the English during the 18th century.
Fort Louis is a historical site that is perfect for those who want to soak in a bit of the rich history of St. Maarten and take in some of the amazing views Saint Martin has to offer. It’s a perfect location for people of all ages and backgrounds. Around 10,000 people per year visit Fort Louis. Entry into Fort Louis is free. The climb up to the fort is known to be a bit taxing and usually lasts 20-30 minutes, it would be good to remember to bring a bottle of water with you.
2. Loterie Farm
Loterie Farm is a private nature reserve located on the hillside of Pic Paradis in French Saint Martin. Loterie Farm was founded by Bill “BJ” Welch, an actor who left Hollywood to pursue a quieter life in nature. He turned a former plantation on the island of Saint Martin into the lush green paradise that Loterie Farm is known to be today.
Loterie Farm has many different activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. There are many different cabanas for those who prefer to lounge and soak in the sun, many different pools and jacuzzis throughout the premises, ziplining courses, hiking trails, and obstacle courses for the adventurous, as well as many poolside restaurants and bars. Many tourists from all ages and backgrounds come to Loterie Farm to enjoy the beautifully relaxing nature, scenery, and wildlife.
Loterie Farm is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Prices for the different activities can vary. Access to the hiking trails cost around $6 (5 euros) per person or $30 (26 Euros) per person with a guide. Ziplining courses normally cost around $46 (40 Euros) per person. There are options to rent Cabanas for couples for $98 (85 Euros) or up to 10 people for $256 (220 Euros). Whatever activity you decide to do, Loterie Farm will no doubt be an unforgettable experience during your trip to St. Maarten.
3. Seaside Nature Park
Seaside Nature Park is 30 acres of rugged and natural landscape on the island of Saint Martin and is a quick distance away from the highly populated area of Cay Bay, Dutch Sint Maarten. This private oasis amidst a bustling city is a unique spot in St. Maarten. Seaside Nature Park was built to educate all who visit about nature and preserving the natural environment in Saint Martin and throughout the world. Horses roam free on the premises and there are animals available to pet, this is truly an enjoyable experience for all who visit.
Seaside Nature Park has a lot of exciting activities available for all to enjoy such as horseback riding lessons at the lucky stables, hiking trails, the beachside pavilion as well as the nearby beaches, and the petting zoo that is located on-site. There are many animals available to observe at Seaside Nature Park including goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, horses, peacocks, turkeys, turtles, iguanas, chickens, and ducks. Almost all the animals at Seaside Nature Park are open for an encounter, and it’s always a lovely sight to see them roam freely throughout the park. The price for horseback rides varies from $75-$150 per person. Children must be over 6 years old to ride the horses.
4. Friar’s Bay
Friar’s Bay is one of the most popular and family-friendly beaches located on the island of Saint Martin. Located between the towns of Grand Case and Marigot, Friar’s Bay is known for its crystal-clear water that is shielded from the heavy winds, this makes for calm tides that kids and those who aren’t strong swimmers can handle.
Friar’s Bay is located close to the culinary capital of St. Maarten “Grand Case” so there are many fine French restaurants as well as bars along the beach such as Kali’s Beach Bar and Friar’s Beach Bar, where you and your loved ones can enjoy delicious food and refreshing drinks. At these bars, there is often live music and dancing. A wonderful time for the whole family.
Friar’s Bay is also known for being more family-friendly in the sense that most people are fully clothed at the beach, which is contrary to some of the other more scantily clad beaches in Saint Martin. This makes it a family-friendly option for those who would like to visit a beach where people are fully clothed.
5. Grand Case
For those looking to indulge in some delicious cuisine, Grand Case in French Saint Martin is the right spot to go. Located on the northern side of the island, Grand Case is known to be the culinary capital of St. Maarten. Grand Case is famous for having dozens of restaurants and bakeries lining the streets. The fusion of the Caribbean and European culture can be seen by the cuisine in Grand Case, which is something that people of all backgrounds can enjoy.
Grand Case is not only known for its amazing food but for its beautiful golden sandy beach that is protected from the winds and waves of the ocean. This makes for some of the calmest waters on the island of St. Maarten. This makes it a suitable location for families and those who aren’t the best swimmers. Along this beach, you can find many gourmet restaurants, beachfront bars all of which host live music and dancing. Grand Case is a famous area in Saint Martin that is known for its fantastic nightlife.
6. Pinel Island
Pinel Island is a separate island that is located on the north shore of French Saint Martin. Pinel Island is known for its gorgeous natural landscape and colorful reef that presents wonderful snorkeling opportunities. Pinel Island is also protected from the trade winds and has calm and shallow waters that are ideal for people with less experience swimming and are good conditions for people who want to snorkel and explore underwater marine life in a calm environment.
To reach Pinel Island many tourists travel by rental car or taxi to the parking lot located next to the ferry in the town of Cul de Sac, French Saint Martin. You can park your car in this parking lot for free. The ferry ride to Pinel island from Cul de Sac is from 5-10 minutes and costs around $6 (5 euros) per person. Once on the island beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent for around $18 (15 euros) per day. Pinel Island is part of the French Marine Reserve, so the island is protected from overdevelopment. It is important to bring all your necessities for the day because there is only a little gift shop and two small restaurants on the island.
7. Maho Beach
Maho Beach is without a doubt the most action-packed beach on the island of St. Maarten. Maho Beach is located right behind the runway of Princess Juliana Airport in Dutch Sint Maarten. This is one of the most popular beaches on the island and travelers love to stand on the beach and take pictures of the incoming planes that fly so close to the shores.
Maho Beach is not a place to have a tranquil beach day, but a beach for thrill-seekers and those looking to marvel and gaze at the amazing planes flying overhead. It is important to remember to secure loose items because the wind from the airplanes and jets can blow them away. This is a must-see experience in Saint Martin and is something the island is very well known for.
Entry onto Maho Beach is free. The beach is fairly small and a large tourist attraction on the island, so it is common to only spend around 30 minutes here. There is a sunset beach bar nearby so you can enjoy food and a cocktail while enjoying the amazing view. Many tourists after visiting Maho Beach go to Mullet Bay Beach which is a calmer beach that is just a short distance away.
8. Orient Bay
Orient Bay, also known as Baie Orientale, is located on the northeastern coast of French Saint Martin. Orient Bay Beach is often called the “Saint Tropez of the Caribbean” and is often compared to the beaches in southern France. Many tourists would argue that this is the best beach on the island of Saint Martin. Orient Bay is known for its stunning views, soft sand and beautiful crystal blue water, and a vast array of activities that are perfect for people who are looking for a thrill.
The waters of Orient Bay are known to be a bit rough, which are the perfect conditions for water sports such as surfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, parasailing, banana boating which are readily available on the beach. Orient Bay is also known for the many upscale restaurants that line the beach such as the Perch Bar and Grill, Bikini Beach, Kakao Beach, and Kontiki Beach, many of these restaurants offer live entertainment. Orient Bay is also famous for Club Orient, which is a nudist resort that has been in business for 40 years. This may not be suitable for families for this reason. Entry onto the beach is free and beachgoers are allowed to rent beach chairs for $25 (euros) per day.
9. Red Bay
Red Bay or as it is also called “Baie Rouge”, is a beach located in Terres Basses or “The Lowlands” of Saint Martin. Terres Basses is one of the most glamorous neighborhoods on the island of Saint Martin, there are many huge estates and luxury vacation villas in this town. Red bay gets its name from the reddish-pink color of the sand on the beach. The color of the sand comes from the crushed coral pieces that wash up onto the shore. This beach also has a vibrant coral reef with a host of beautiful sea life that is perfect for visitors looking to snorkel.
Red Bay is one of the most secluded beaches in Saint Martin and rarely gets overcrowded because of the long length of the beach. Red Bay Beach spans about 3.2 km long (2 miles). This makes Red Bay a perfect choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway or those who are looking for more privacy in general.
Some local beachside restaurants are Chez Raymond and Gus’ Beach Bar. Entry onto the beach is free and lounge chairs and umbrellas are available for rental. Snorkeling gear can also be rented along the northern end of the beach.
10. Cupecoy Beach
Cupecoy Beach is located on the Southwestern tip of Saint Martin and is the last beach on the Dutch side of the island before crossing the northern French border. Cupecoy Beach is a collective of 3 golden sandy beaches that are surrounded by rugged limestone cliffs. Cupecoy Beach is known for its breath-taking sunsets and beautiful view of the nearby island of Saba. The beach is also protected from the wind and a favorite among tourists who love to sunbathe.
Cupecoy Beach is one of the more secluded beaches on the island and is ideal for those who want more privacy and quiet for their beach experience. The seclusion of the beaches also makes it popular among tourists who prefer a clothing-optional beach experience. This beach might not be so suitable for families for this reason. You can visit Cupecoy Beach for free, but there are paid parking lots at the adjacent Cupecoy and Sapphire beach clubs. There are no food vendors, umbrellas, or chairs to rent on either of the three beaches, so be sure to bring all of your necessities for the day.
How much time do you need to see everything in St. Martin?
3 to 5 days is the average amount of time that is needed to see everything in Saint Martin. St. Maarten has so much to offer visitors in terms of cultural diversity, delicious cuisine, gorgeous beaches, shopping, nightlife, and entertaining activities. Most tourists can see the best of what St. Maarten has to offer within 3 to 5 days with careful planning.
Many tourists who visit St. Maarten choose to do guided tours of the island, this makes it possible to experience many activities in Saint Martin on both the French and Dutch sides in one day. There are many different types of tours, some take you shopping, others allow you to visit several different beaches in one day, others take you on a historical tour of the island, and some tours allow you to indulge in the delicious cuisine on the island. Depending on your preference these tours are a great way to get the most out of your days during your visit to St. Maarten.
What is the unique experience you can get in St. Martin?
The unique experience that St. Maarten offers to visitors lies in the culture of the island. St. Maarten is known as a melting pot in the Caribbean and has over 120 different nationalities living on the island. It is also the only place on earth where France and the Netherlands share a border. This mixture of cultures creates a truly unique experience that can be seen in the festivals, the cuisine, the music, the dancing, and the overall happy and friendly disposition of the natives of the island. Some other things that are unique to the island of St. Maarten are Guavaberry Rum, the St. Maarten’s day festival, and the Duty-Free shopping status of the island.
What are the best things to do in Sint Maarten?
There are so many activities available in Saint Martin for tourists to enjoy. The best things to do in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Visiting one of the 37 beaches
- Mountain biking
- Loterie Farms
- Watch the planes land at Maho Beach
- Topper’s Rum Distillery Tour
- Shopping duty-free
What are the best tours in Sint Maarten?
There are many different tours available to take on the island of St. Maarten. The best tours in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Captain Bob Most Popular Speed Boat, Snorkeling, and Beach Tour with Lunch: This is a 6-hour speed boat tour. Visiting both the French and Dutch sides of Saint Martin. On this tour, you can go snorkeling, relax on the beach, sip drinks, and have unlimited snacks all for $129 per person.
- Sky Explorer Flying Dutchman Schooner Ride and Sentry Hill Zip Line: This tour involves going to Saint Martin’s highest point and seeing the excellent views of the island from the zipline. Two zipline rides are included, all costing $139 per person.
- The Best Catamaran Day Sail in St. Maarten: This is a family-friendly 5-hour yacht excursion from Simpson Bay. You will go to both the French and the Dutch sides of the island visiting several famous beaches. You can go snorkeling, paddle boarding, and swing from a Tarzan swing. The tour provides a locally made lunch from the bar and costs $119 per person.
- The Original Eco Tour Full-Day Around the Island of Sint Maarten: You will take a full-day cruise around St Maarten with stops at Grand Case, Creole Rock, and Tintamarre Island. Explore the lovely natural beauty of Tintamarre, enjoy an open bar and see the island’s lovely sights. The price of this tour is $133.00 per person.
- St. Maarten Luxury Catamaran Full-Day Group Charter SXM Tour: Spend a full day cruising on a luxury catamaran visiting different shores. Taking in the views and swimming and snorkeling. See the planes take off at Maho Beach. Go fishing and kayaking and enjoy lunch on board mid-day. There is an open bar with unlimited snacks and refreshments. This costs $186 per person.