When planning their trip to the island of St. Martin many tourists often do not realize that the island of Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin has a border that divides the island into two territories. One side of the island of St. Martin is owned by France and the other side is owned by the Netherlands. This makes the island of St. Martin one of the tiniest areas of land divided between two countries.
Although St. Maarten is a tiny island, there are still many amazing things to do and see. The different villages, towns, and hotels located on both the French side and Dutch sides of St. Maarten/ St. Martin allows visitors to enjoy exciting outdoor adventures, historic ruins, countless shopping opportunities, and breath-taking Caribbean landscapes.
All of these activities and the beautiful scenery of the island of St. Martin will no doubt brighten up any tourist’s day as well as liven up their social media feed. However, the best area to stay in St. Maarten/ St. Martin will vary based on each tourist’s personal preference.
On the island of St. Martin, there are 37 gorgeous beaches of white sand and crystal clear waters, a thriving nightlife, and wonderful hotels or villas that suit any budget on both the Dutch and the French sides of the island. Philipsburg, the colorful and historic capital of the Dutch side of St. Maarten, is also located by the main cruise ship port. The main streets of Philipsburg are filled with restaurants, bars, and Duty-Free shops. Philipsburg is one of the best places on the island for large families or groups of friends who want to be next to all the action.
Simpson Bay is a town in St. Maarten that has some of the best nightlife on the entire island of St. Maarten/ St. Martin. It is recommended that tourists who are looking for a peaceful place to stay on St. Maarten/ St. Martin with easy access to nightlife, bars, and restaurants choose either the area of the Lowlands or Cupecoy. The island of St. Martin also has beautiful scenery that is perfect for relaxation, these areas include Dawn Beach, Orient Bay, Maho, and Marigot. These places on the island of St. Maarten are known for their spectacular beaches, and a wide variety of restaurants serving delicious Caribbean or French cuisines. The best areas to stay when visiting Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin are listed and explained below.
- Simpson Bay
- Dawn Beach
- Orient Bay
Table of Contents
- 1. Simpson Bay
- 2. Cupecoy
- 3. Dawn Beach
- 4. Maho
- 5. Philipsburg
- 6. Orient Bay
- 7. Marigot
- 8. The Lowlands
- Which region is the best place to stay?
1. Simpson Bay
Simpson Bay is located on the southwestern coast of Dutch Sint Maarten. Simpson Bay is just 1 mile (1.6 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 10.19 miles (16.4 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport, a local airport located on the French side of Saint Martin. Simpson Bay is one of the most popular areas for couples because of the different luxurious facilities that are available in that area.
There is a wide variety of restaurants in Simpson Bay, with different cuisines such as Italian, Gourmet bistro, Mexican, and Japanese. The accommodations available in Simpson Bay range from 4-star hotels to luxury hotels. Some of the best hotels located at Simpson Bay are The Villas at Simpson Bay Beach Resort & Marina, The Morgan Resort Spa & Village, and Simpson Bay Resort & Marina. There are a lot of watersports available at Simpson Bay such as kite surfing, diving, kayaking, and more.
Some of the best activities to do while in Simpson Bay are fishing, snorkeling, playing games at the casino, horseback riding at Seaside Nature Park, and going to the beautiful beaches. Dutch Sint Maarten has the best nightlife on both sides of the island. Some of the best clubs are located in Simpson Bay such as Rusty Rocket Rum & Reggae Bar, The Red Piano Lounge, and The Q Lounge. There are also a wide variety of shopping centers on Simpson Bay such as Simpson Bay Fish Market, Sunrise Gift Shop, Shipwreck Shop, and The Point.
Cupecoy beach is one of the most popular beaches in St. Maarten because of its beautiful views, turquoise waters, and soft sand. Cupecoy is a beach located next to Long Bay and the French/Dutch border. Cupecoy beach is just 2.1 miles (3.5 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 10.6 miles (17 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport on French Saint Martin. Cupecoy beach is one of the most popular options for honeymooners because of the seclusion of the beach. Some of the activities that visitors like the most when visiting Cupecoy beach are kiteboarding, snorkeling, surfing, and exploring the natural caves on the beach. Cupecoy beach is a nudist beach where sunbathing is commonly practiced.
The accommodations that are available on Cupecoy beach range from 3-star hotels to a few luxury spa resorts that are located near the beach. Some of the best villas and hotels that are located near Cupecoy beach are Residence Adam and Eve, Sapphire Beach Club & Resort, and Cupecoy Beach Club. The different cuisines available on Cupecoy beach are Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and Asian. Some of the most popular restaurants in Cupecoy beach are Rendezvous Lounge, Mario’s Bistro at the cliff, and Dany’s Beach Bar.
3. Dawn Beach
Dawn Beach is a very popular beach among families and tourists who enjoy shopping on the island of St. Maarten. Dawn Beach is located on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten. Dawn Beach is located just 9.56 miles (15.4 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 7.27 miles (11.7 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport, the local airport on the French side of St. Martin.
There is a wide variety of cuisine available at Dawn Beach, including barbecue, French cuisine, and more. Some of the best restaurants located at Dawn Beach are BZH Creperie, Big Fish Seafood Grill, and Oasis Restaurant. The accommodations available near Dawn Beach range from 3-star hotels to luxury resorts. Some of the best hotels located near Dawn Beach are The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, Coral Beach Club, and Oyster Bay Beach Resort. Dawn Beach is considered one of the best places for tourists to go snorkeling in St. Maarten/ St. Martin because of its crystal clear waters.
Some other activities to do at or near Dawn Beach are ATV tours, beach tours on a catamaran, and flying on a zipline. There are a few different options for tourists who want to visit Dawn Beach on a tour. Some of the different tour companies that take tourists to Dawn Beach are St. Maarten Luxury Catamaran Full-Day Group Charter SXM Tour and Captain Bob Speed Boat Tour.
Maho is one of the most popular areas in St. Maarten because of the exhilarating experiences that can be enjoyed at some of the most amazing beaches in the entire world. Maho is located at the western end of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport. Maho is just 9.6 miles (15.5 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport, which is the local airport of French Saint Martin.
Maho Beach is well known for its airplane sightings at just a few yards above the head. There is probably nothing more thrilling on the island of St. Maarten than visiting Maho Beach. Some other activities for tourists to do at Maho Beach are going to restaurants, nightclubs, and casinos, and enjoying an amazing sunset. The best clubs to visit in Maho Beach are WE Lounge, 3 Amigos, and The Hole in the Wall. In addition to this, there are a lot of different watersports available at Maho beaches such as windsurfing, snorkeling, and more.
There is a wide variety of restaurants in Maho such as The Sunset Bar & Grill, Spices of India, and Jax Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar. Some of the best hotels located at Maho are Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, The Morgan Resort & Spa, Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, and Oyster Bay Beach Resort. There are also a wide variety of shopping centers in Maho such as Penha Duty-Free St. Maarten at Maho Beach Plaza, Natural Elements Gift & Speciality Shop, Jewels and Beyond Beach & Specialty shop, and My Way Store.
Philipsburg is one of the top places for locals and tourists who want to enjoy the vibrant culture of St. Maarten. Philipsburg is the capital of Dutch Sint Maarten, located just 5.6 miles (9.1 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 0.8 miles (1.2 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport. The city of Philipsburg is also a popular destination for families, friends, and couples who love history, sunbathing, and shopping.
The most popular activity to do at Philipsburg is to go shopping in the duty-free shopping centers. The majority of shopping centers are located at Philipsburg on Front Street and Old Street. There are great deals at Front Street on things like jewelry, locally crafted spirits, handmade dishes, and even clothes. Old Street allows tourists to enjoy such a beautiful old-world experience with plenty of things to do and see but without the crowds. Some other popular activities to do at Philipsburg are the watersports such as kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, surfing, and also playing at the casinos, and taking a catamaran excursion.
There is a wide variety of restaurants in Philipsburg that gives tourists an amazing ambiance and delicious food such as Freedom Fighter’s Ital Shack, The Original Fat Boy BBQ Jimmy’s Kitchen & Grill, and Caribbean Blend. There are a lot of different types of accommodations in Philipsburg, from simple, beautiful hotel rooms to elegant, luxurious suites. Some of the best hotels located at Philipsburg are Horizon View Beach Hotel and Divi Little Bay Beach Resort.
6. Orient Bay
Orient Bay is one of the most popular areas for couples because of the different luxurious facilities and their similarities to the beaches of Southern France. Orient Bay is located near Pinel Island and just 9.75 miles (15.7 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 2.17 miles (3.5 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport on French Saint Martin. Orient Bay is the only official nude beach on French St. Martin.
There are a large variety of high-end restaurants that feature gourmet food, live entertainment, and European and Caribbean food influence in Orient Bay such as Kakao Beach Bar & Restaurant, Perch Bar & Grill, Le Petit Bistro, L’Atelier, Sol e Luna, Le Piment, and more. Some of the hotels and villas located in Orient Bay that provide visitors with amazing facilities are Hotel Esmeralda Resort, Orient Bay Villa Rentals, Villa Blue Dreams, and more.
There are many watersports available to enjoy at Orient Bay Beach such as parasailing, banana boating, windsurfing, surfing, jet skiing, snorkeling, and more. Some of the most popular activities to do at Orient Bay are visiting Amuseum Naturalis, eating at Waikiki Beach, playing watersports, and drinking at Kontiki. There are a few different shopping centers on Orient Bay such as Beachlife Concept and Bisous Boutique.
Marigot is one of the most popular areas on French St. Martin because of the gorgeous historical structures, amazing hiking spots, and great food. Marigot is the capital of French St. Martin and it is one of the most picturesque ports on the entire island and also a cultural center of Saint Martin. Marigot is just 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 8.7 km (5.4 miles) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport, the local airport located on French Saint Martin. Marigot is one of the most iconic Caribbean towns.
There are a variety of restaurants in Marigot that tourists should visit such as Be Kool Restaurant, Le Tropicana, Bateau Lavoir, Restaurante Chez Ginette, and Le Marocain. Some amazing dishes that tourists should try when visiting Marigot are the Johnny cakes, stewed oxtail with fried plantains, Locri, and grilled lobster with creole sauce. Some of the best hotels to stay at when visiting Marigot are Fantastic Hotel and Le Centr’Hotel.
The best club in Marigot is David’s Bar & Club which combines live music with dance theme parties. The most popular activities for tourists to do at Marigot are visiting the ruins of Fort St. Louis, enjoying duty-free shopping, and watching the sunset from the port. The different popular shopping centers in Marigot are La Casa del Habano, West Indies Shopping Mall, Guavaberry Colombier Tradition, Oro del Sol, and more. There are also a lot of watersports available at Marigot such as jetskiing, surfing, scuba diving, and more.
8. The Lowlands
The Lowlands is located between Marigot and Cupecoy beach, next to Simpson Bay Lagoon on French St. Martin. Lowlands is also known as Terres Basses, a luxurious French area in St. Martin. The Lowlands is located just 1.24 miles (2 km) away from Princess Juliana International Airport, and 10.4 miles (16.8 km) away from Grand Case-Espérance Airport, which is the local airport located on French Saint Martin. The different luxurious facilities in The Lowlands make it a popular location for couples.
There are so many delicious restaurants in the Lowlands such as Spaghetti House, Tortuga Maho, La Cigale Restaurant, and Ma Ti Beach Bar & Restaurant. There are a lot of villas and hotels in the Lowlands that range from mid-range to luxurious options. Some of the best hotels located near the Lowlands are Sonesta Maho Beach All Inclusive Resort Casino & Spa, Sapphire Beach Club Resort, Myriam and Frank Residence, and more.
Tourists also visit the nearby clubs when staying in the Lowlands such as Casino Royale and Sonesta Maho Beach All Inclusive Resort Casino & Spa. Some of the most amazing beaches near the Lowlands such as Cupecoy beach, Mullet Bay, and Maho beach. There are a lot of watersports available in the Lowlands such as jet skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, diving, and more.
Which region is the best place to stay?
The region that is the best place to stay when visiting Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin depends on the preferences of each individual. It is known that Sint. Maarten (Dutch) vs St. Martin (French) is a hotly debated topic that often divides opinion among tourists who visit the island.
Dutch Sint Maarten is a popular tourist destination for travelers who enjoy soaking in the nightlife during their vacation and like to participate in many activities. Dutch Sint Maarten has many restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and beach parties that tourists enjoy during their stay on the island. French Saint Martin is known for its natural beauty and seclusion which is a perfect destination for those who are looking for a relaxing getaway away from the crowds. The best place to stay in St. Martin/ St. Maarten depends on what type of vacation experience each tourist would like to experience.
Are the places to stay in Sint Maarten expensive?
No, the places to stay in Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin are not as expensive as some may think. The different options to stay when visiting St. Maarten/ St. Martin range from budget-friendly hotels or villas to luxury accommodations. In fact, the average hotel price in Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin goes from $88 to $323 (€82 to €303) per night. Some of the 3-star hotel options can cost around $212 (€199) per night.
Are the places to stay in Sint Maarten budget-friendly?
Yes, there are places to stay in Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin that are budget-friendly. In fact, Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin offers a lot of different budget-friendly options for solo travelers, couples, or families to choose from. The average budget-friendly hotel price can cost around $88 to $294 (€82 to €276) per night.
What are the room sizes of Sint Maarten hotels?
The different room sizes of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin hotels range from 205 sq ft to 926 sq ft (19 sqm to 94 sqm). There is a wide range of room sizes in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin hotels based on the room capacity or even the hotel type such as chain hotels, motels, resorts, all-suites, boutique hotels, and the list goes on. Some of the most popular room sizes of Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin hotels are listed below.
- Room size: 205 sq ft (19 sqm)
- Room size: 420 sq ft (39 sqm)
- Room size: 495 sq ft (46 sqm)
- Room size: 613 sq ft (57 sqm)
- Room size: 660 sq ft (201 sqm)
- Room size: 807 sq ft (75 sqm)
- Room size: 915 sq ft (85 sqm)
- Room size: 926 sq ft (86 sqm)
- Room size: 1,020 sqft (94 sqm)
Does Sint Maarten have hotels next to the beaches?
Yes, Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin has so many different hotels located next to the beach. The beaches with the highest concentration of hotels include Simpson Bay, Great Bay, Oyster Pond, Grand Case, and Anse Marcel. In addition to this, some of the best hotels next to the Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin beaches are La Samanna, The Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, Hotel Riu Palace, Esmeralda Resort, and Sonesta Ocean Point Resort not only because of the prices but also because of the amazing facilities and services they offer.
Does Sint Maarten have restaurants next to the beaches?
Yes, Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin has restaurants located next to the beaches on the island. Some of the best beaches that have amazing restaurants are Simpson Bay, Philipsburg, Marigot, and Grand Case. Some of the best restaurants next to the beaches of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin are Indigo Beach Bar and Restaurant, Tortuga Maho, Big Fish Seafood Grill, and Coco Beach not only because of the location but also because of the delicious food and affordable prices.
What can you do in Sint Maarten?
There are a few things that visitors should do when visiting Sint Maarten/Saint Martin such as trying amazing Caribbean food, visiting the beautiful beaches, going on a catamaran trip, practicing watersports, and more. There are at least 8 things to do in St. Maarten/Saint Martin that every visitor should try. Some things that visitors should do when visiting Sint Maarten/Saint Martin are listed below.
- Explore the island on an ATV
- Explore the French town of Marigot
- Enjoy a sunset sail along the coast
- Visit Topper’s Rhum Distillery for rum samples
- Watch the planes at the incredible Maho Beach
- Watersports such as Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
- Learn how rum is made at Topper’s Rhum Distillery
- Take a zipline down the steepest zipline in the world
Is staying in Sint Maarten fun?
Yes, staying in Sint Maarten is fun. The island of Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin is pretty often considered a fun place for visitors because of the vibrant Caribbean culture and the variety of activities available to all ages. Some fun activities to do when staying in Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin are playing at the casinos, swimming at the beaches, practicing watersports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, or jetskiing, eating authentic French food with beautiful Caribbean landscapes, and more.