Saint Martin Pinel Island Guide

By

Pinel Island is a small tropical island that is located off the northeastern coast of the island of Sint Maarten. Pinel Island is situated on the French side of St. Martin. This little island has 4 rocky shores and 4 beaches.

Pinel Island falls under the protection of the French Marine Reserve. The French Marine Reserve prevents further development on the island beyond the Pinel Island gift shop and the two existing restaurants on the island which are called “Karibuni” and “Yellow Beach”. The wildlife in and around Pinel Island is protected under the marine reserve. Visitors can enjoy discovering some of these majestic creatures in the water and on land.

Pinel Island is a popular destination among both tourists and locals. Pinel island receives regular ferries with visitors from St. Maarten. Visitors can also make use of kayaks and paddleboards to transport themselves to Pinel Island from the ferry station in the town of Cul de Sac located on the French side of Saint Martin.

Pinel Island is surrounded by breathtaking clear blue waters that are ideal for water activities such as snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. The two restaurants on Pinel island offer guests a wide range of incredible Caribbean and French-inspired dishes. The restaurants on Pinel Island also offer rental kayaks and paddleboards to use on the water, and rental chairs and umbrellas to use on the beach.

Where is Pinel Island?

Pinel Island is located off the coast of the town of Cul de Sac which is situated in the northeastern French region of the island of Saint Martin. The coordinates for Pinel Island are 18° 06′ 20″ N, 63° 00′ 57″ W. Pinel Island is located at least 0.8km (0.5 miles) off the northeastern coast of St. Martin.

How big is Pinel Island?

Pinel Island is approximately 115000 m2   (1237849.7sq ft) in size.

Who owns Pinel Island?

Pinel Island is owned and governed by the northern French side of Saint Martin. The island is currently managed and taken care of by local residents of Saint Martin who developed the western coast of Pinel island by building restaurants that attract and entertain tourists who visit Pinel Island. Locals built restaurants that attract and entertain tourists and locals who visit Pinel Island.

What to find on a map of Pinel Island?

Map of Pinel Island, St. Martin

On the map above the arrow is indicating the location of Pinel Island off the coast of the island of Saint Martin. The location of Pinel Island on the northeastern coast of Saint Martin is shown along with the Cul-de-sac Bay that ferries, paddleboards, kayaks and boats travel across to get to Pinel Island from St. Martin.

What are the ways to go to Pinel Island?

There are a few different ways to go to Pinel Island. Some of the ways to go to Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. Paddleboard: Paddleboards can be rented at the nearby town of Cul de Sac in French St. Martin. Many visitors decide to paddleboard to Pinel Island.
  2. Kayak: Kayak rentals are available for individuals and families from Cul de Sac to Pinel Island.
  3. Ferry: Visitors can board a ferry from Cul de Sac in Saint Martin to Pinel Island.
  4. Cruise boat: Guests staying at some of the resorts in Saint Martin can have a private cruise boat arranged from the French coast or Dutch coast of St. Maarten to Pinel Island.
  5. Car or Taxi: Visitors coming from distant areas in Sint Maarten can use a car or take a taxi to Cul de Sac on the French side of Saint Martin and choose any of the water transportation services available at Cul de Sac to get to Pinel Island.

Are there ferries to get to Pinel Island?

Yes, there are ferries to get to Pinel Island. Ferries traveling to Pinel Island have a regular schedule set up for each trip. Ferries depart from Cul de Sac every 30 minutes starting from 9:30 am. The daily availability of ferries depends on the season in St. Maarten.

During the high tourist season in St. Martin, the ferries travel from Cul de Sac to Pinel Island from 9:30 am to 5 pm (7 hours 30 minutes). During the low tourist season in Saint Martin, the ferries travel from Cul de Sac to Pinel Island starting from 9:30 am to 4 pm (6 hours 30 minutes). The ferry from the town of Cul de Sac to Pinel Island costs $6 (€5) per person for a one way trip and $12 (€10) per person for a round trip ticket.

How much does it cost to go to Pinel Island?

The cost of going to Pinel Island depends on the method of transportation chosen. The prices of different transportation methods to Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. Ferry to Pinel Island: The ferry to Pinel Island costs $6 (€5) per person for a one-way trip and $12 (€10) per person for a round trip.
  2. Paddleboard rental to Pinel Island: A solo paddle board costs $40 (€35) per person to rent for the day. A tandem paddleboard for a maximum of two adults with a child under 5 years costs $68 (€60) per day.
  3. Kayak rental to Pinel Island: A solo kayak for an adult with a child under 5 years costs $34 (€30) for the day. A tandem kayak for two people with a child under 5 years costs $63 (€55) for the day. A triple kayak for three people costs $86 (€75). A family kayak for a maximum of two people and two children costs $97 (€85) for the day.

Does Pinel Island require an extra visa?

No, Pinel Island does not require an extra visa. Pinel Island is part of the island of St. Maarten. Visitors who visit Sint Maarten can have free access to Pinel Island.

What to know about Pinel Island?

There are a few things that are good to know about Pinel Island before traveling there. Some of the information about Pinel Island is listed below.

  1. Rules: Pinel Island is a marine reserve, so development of the island is prohibited to protect the wildlife. Jet-skis and fishing are also prohibited on Pinel Island.
  2. Interesting facts: Pinel island is located off of the northeastern coast of St. Martin and faces the town of Cul de Sac. Due to its location, Pinel Island serves as a barrier that prevents strong winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean from reaching the western coast of the island of St. Martin. This barrier results in calmer water currents that are suitable for water activities such as snorkeling and paddleboarding. The water is also shallow on the western coast of Pinel Island with visible emerging coral reefs and cays.
  3. Attractions: Pinel Island only has building structures on the western coast of the island including two restaurants and a gift shop. The restaurants on Pinel Island offer fresh seafood, comfortable seating, and activities on the beach. Pinel Island also has an inland hiking trail that many use to explore much of the nature on the island.
  4. Wildlife: Marine life that can be spotted around Pinel island include sea turtles, different kinds of reef fish, occasional stingrays. Animals such as iguanas and hermit crabs can also be found on Pinel Island.
  5. Neighboring destinations: If you hike to the top of Pinel Island you will see the incredible view of the neighboring islands of Anguilla, St. Barts, and the rocky little island of Tintamarre.
  6. Good to know: Pinel Island is always open even though the restaurants close at 5 pm.

What makes Pinel Island so special?

What makes Pinel Island so special are the many different features that are offered on the island such as calm waters and amazing restaurants. The western coast of Pinel Island is popular because of its calm, and shallow waters. There are also two lively restaurants on the western coast of Pinel Island where visitors can enjoy delicious meals and exciting water sports.

Pinel Island is only 0.8 km (0.5 miles) away from the coast of the French side of Saint Martin. The close proximity of Pinel Island to the island of Sint Maarten makes traveling between the two islands easy and fun through the use of paddle boards and kayaks.

Pinel Island has an inland hiking trail that offers picturesque views of surrounding islands. The hiking trail on Pinel Island is not as hilly as the hiking on some of St. Martin’s popular hiking trails. The hiking trail at Pinel Island is not too strenuous and even children can enjoy hiking with their parents.

Pinel Island is a nature reserve that protects wildlife such as iguanas and crabs on land as well as the colorful fish and sea turtles in the water. Many who visit Pinel Island enjoy interacting with land animals such as iguanas and love seeing the beautiful aquatic life underwater while snorkeling. All of these activities make Pinel Island an incredibly special place to visit.

Is Pinel Island safe to visit?

Yes, Pinel Island is safe to visit. The management on Pinel Island provides some helpful services for the safety of people traveling to and from the island of St. Martin and for visitors who choose to swim or snorkel along Pinel Island’s coast.

The restaurants at Pinel Island work in communication with the ferry station at Cul de Sac to inform the station whenever the weather is not favorable to travel across the water to Pinel Island. This communication ensures the safety of visitors who are being transported to Pinel Island.

The staff at Pinel Island ensure the safety of swimmers who are snorkeling along the western coast through the Pinel Island marine trail. The Pinel Island Marine trail is a snorkeling guide marked with white buoys to help guide swimmers safely along the coral reef.

The water level by Pinel Island’s western coast is at least 0.6 m (2 ft) deep which makes it a safe swimming location for children. This western shore on Pinel Island is also shielded from the strong winds coming from the east which result in calmer waters that are safe for weaker swimmers and children.

Do hurricanes affect Pinel Island?

Yes, there have been hurricanes that have affected Pinel Island.  Pinel Island is located in a tropical climate region which is known to have a hurricane season. Since Pinel Island is located only 0.8 km (0.5 miles) away from the coast of the French side of Saint Martin this small island is also affected by the hurricanes that affect the island of St. Martin in recent years. Some of the recent hurricanes that have affected Pinel Island and Sint Maarten are listed below.

  1. Hurricane Irma (September 2017)
  2. Hurricane Maria (September 2017)

What should you wear at Pinel Island?

The type of clothes that you should wear at Pinel Island should be suitable for warm tropical weather. Some of the types of clothing and accessories you can wear at Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. A Sundress
  2. T-shirt
  3. Shorts
  4. Flip flops
  5. Sun hat
  6. Bikini or swimsuit
  7. Sarong
  8. Sunglasses

Is nudism allowed on Pinel Island?

Yes, nudism is allowed on Pinel Island. Pinel Island is one of the most popular nude beaches in St. Martin. The main beach on the western coast is not clothing-optional and visitors are expected to be clothed. There is a secluded area on the northern side of Pinel Island where clothing is optional. This secluded nude beach is a 10-minute walk from behind the beach-front restaurants on Pinel Island.

What are the activities that can be done on Pinel Island?

There is a selection of activities that can be done on Pinel Island. The activities on Pinel Island are some of the most fun and exciting things to do in St. Martin. Some of the activities available on Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. Hiking
  2. Snorkeling
  3. Visit the Karibuni and Yellow Beach Restaurants
  4. Paddleboarding
  5. Kayaking
  6. Visiting the Gift shop

Are paddleboarding and kayaking possible at Pinel Island?

Yes, paddleboarding and kayaking are both possible at  Pinel Island. Visitors who would like to try out kayaking and paddleboarding at Pinel Island can rent out kayaks and paddleboards at the available renting sites on Pinel Island or in the nearby town of Cul de Sac in St. Martin.

A paddleboard resembles a surfboard, but the paddleboard is used differently. Paddleboarding around Pinel Island involves either standing or kneeling on the paddleboard and using your arms to paddle along the water. You can paddle solo on the paddleboard, or you can paddle with someone else seated on the board while you paddle, depending on the size of the paddleboard. If you paddle board along the clear blue waters at Pinel Island, you might spot some of St. Maarten’s beautiful sea turtles or coral reef fish below.

A kayak is a watercraft that resembles a canoe. A kayak comes with an opening at the top to sit in, larger kayaks can come with more openings to seat more people. The kayak comes with a double-bladed paddle for each person riding in the kayak to row interchangeably on both sides of the kayak. Kayaking around Pinel Island can be an exciting activity for individuals, couples, and families. Visitors can also kayak from Pinel Island to small islets like Little Key Island or they can visit the orange buoys near Pinel Island and get to see some of the sea turtles that frequently surface from the water for air around this area.

Can iguanas be seen on Pinel Island?

Yes, iguanas can be seen on Pinel Island. The iguanas on Pinel Island can be found in rocky habitats on the island. Iguanas are native to tropical areas and Sint Maarten has many of these creatures on the island and on surrounding little islands with rocky terrain and lots of vegetation.

The iguanas on Pinel Island are usually attracted to food. If visitors have some tasty snacks to feed the iguanas, these gentle reptiles are not shy to come crawling in overwhelming numbers for a quick feed.

The iguanas on Pinel Island generally have a relaxed temperament and will often allow visitors to touch and pet them. If visitors on Pinel Island decide to pick up and hold these friendly creatures, they should make sure to handle the iguanas gently.

Where can you snorkel at Pinel Island?

You can snorkel on the western beach at Pinel Island which has calmer currents that are ideal for snorkeling. The western beach on Pinel Island also has snorkeling guides for the safety of weaker swimmers and children. The coordinates for this western beach are 18.105432, -63.016055.

Experienced swimmers can snorkel on the northeastern beach of Pinel Island which has stronger currents. There are no snorkeling guides on this northeastern beach, so swimmers may want to take caution when they snorkel. Experienced snorkelers may need to use fins when navigating through the strong currents on the eastern side of Pinel Island. The coordinates for this northeastern beach are 18.107584, -63.014953.

What are the best places to visit on Pinel Island?

The best places to visit on Pinel Island are the two restaurants Karibuni and Yellow Beach, the hiking trail leading to the top of the island, and the orange buoys at Pinel Island.

The two Caribbean restaurants Karibuni and Yellow Beach are within at least 100 m (328 ft) walking distance from each other and both restaurants have their own unique menus and ambiance. Those who would like a tasty meal can try out the delicious meals and tropical drinks offered at either or both of these restaurants. Both restaurants also provide ample seating along the beach for a relaxing time on the beach with spectacular views of the gorgeous turquoise blue Caribbean Sea.

The hiking trail on Pinel Island offers picturesque views of nature as well as a panoramic view at its peak of neighboring islands such as Anguilla, St. Barts, and Tintamarre. There are different hiking trails you can discover on Pinel Island. Some of the areas to discover while hiking on Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. The northern beach on Pinel Island which is 200 m (656 ft) long.
  2. The small southern beach on Pinel Island which is at least 80 m (262 ft) long.
  3. The highest hill on Pinel island which has an altitude of at least 20 m (66 ft) and provides breathtaking views of the eastern island Tintamarre just 3 km (1.9 miles) away.
  4. The southeastern beach on Pinel Island which is 125 m (410 ft) long.
  5. The headland to the north of Pinel Island that is facing the Grandes-Cayes. This headland has an altitude of at least 10 m (33 ft).

Visitors can load their snorkeling gear onto a rented kayak or board a paddleboard and visit the orange buoys in the water at Pinel Island. These buoys can be used to tie up the kayak as swimmers gear up to snorkel in the water below. These orange buoys are frequently visited by some of the sea turtles around Pinel Island. The different kinds of turtles that can be spotted while kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling include hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtles.

What are the beaches that are located at Pinel Island?

There are four beaches that are located at Pinel Island. The beaches on Pinel Island are white sandy beaches like many of the beaches of St. Maarten. The four beaches on Pinel Island are listed below.

  1. The northern beach
  2. The small southern beach
  3. The southeastern beach
  4. The western beach

The northern beach on Pinel Island is free to access. This northern beach faces windward and offers beautiful motion views of the waves that are carried by the strong eastern winds as they impact the white sandy beach with both grace and intensity. The northern beach on Pinel Island also offers views of the beautiful Grand Cayes of Sint Maarten located close by.

The small south beach and the southeastern beach are also free to access by hiking through Pinel Island. These two beaches provide incredible views of the white sandy beach of the rocky Tintamarre Island situated to the east of Pinel Island. You might get to see some exciting aquatic life such as sea turtles, stingrays and dolphins that frequent the neighboring Tintamarre island.

The beach facing Saint Martin on the western side of Pinel Island is the most popular beach because of the restaurants and amenities that are provided on the beach including comfy beach chairs and umbrellas. Guests visiting the western beach on Pinel Island can expect to spend at least $100 (€88) per person for meals at the restaurant and for water-sport equipment rentals.

What are the best clubs on Pinel Island?

There are no nightclubs on Pinel Island. Some of the best clubs in St. Martin can be found on the Dutch side of the island. Listed below are some of St. Maarten’s nightclubs.

  1. Lotus NightClub
  2. Rhythm ‘N Booze
  3. Mykonos
  4. The Platinum Room
  5. X-Lounge
  6. The Boon Beach Bar

Visitors can spend the day at Pinel Island and then head off to an evening of fun at one of the nightclubs in St. Maarten. The average price range for nightclubs in Sint Maarten is between $20 to $120 (€17 to €106) per person. The average cost of drinks at these clubs is between $12 to $20 (€10 to €17) per person.

The restaurants at Pinel Island provide excellent meals until 5 pm which can allow partygoers to enjoy a delicious meal before heading out to the nightclubs on the island of Saint Martin. Some of the clubs in St. Martin are open from as early as 4 pm to as late as 3 am. Having an early evening meal at Pinel Island will allow clubbers to be energized for a night out of dancing and cocktails in St. Maarten.

Having an early evening meal at Pinel Island will also allow those who do not want to spend extra money on food to budget for the different kinds of drinks and other services that St. Maarten’s clubs have to offer. There are drink specials and promotions that are offered occasionally at the clubs in St. Maarten. The drinks available at these clubs include liquor, tropical cocktails made from St. Martin’s popular guavaberry and fresh island fruits, as well as exotic French wines and champagnes for a taste of luxury.

The staff at some of the clubs in Sint Maarten are very friendly and offer excellent service similar to the good and friendly service enjoyed during the day at Pinel Island. Many of the clubs can be found on the white sandy beaches of St. Maarten that also resemble Pinel Island’s beautiful white sandy beach.

How is the nightlife on Pinel Island?

There is not much nightlife on Pinel Island. Visitors who would like a night of fun can leave Pinel Island on the last ferry at 5 pm and travel to the nearby town of Grand Case situated in the northern French side of St. Martin.

The best way to reach Grand Case from Pinel Island is to take the ferry from Pinel Island to Cul de Sac where you can get a 6-minute taxi ride to Grand Case. Grand Case is located at least 5 km (3 miles) from Pinel Island. The total duration of traveling from Pinel Island to Grand Case is at least 20 minutes.

The nightlife at Grand Case is an exciting transition from the calm beach time enjoyed at Pinel Island. There is a street fair called “Les Mardis de Grand Case” (Harmony Night) that occurs every Tuesday night in Grand Case from 6 pm to 10:30 pm (4 hours 30 minutes), from the months of January through to April. Some of the activities that can be enjoyed during this night-time festival in Grand Case are listed below.

  1. Food enthusiasts can enjoy meals at the lolos in Grand Case.
  2. If shoppers didn’t buy enough gifts at Pinel Island’s gift shop, they can find beautiful locally made art, crafts, and souvenirs to purchase in Grand Case.
  3. Visitors can have fun dancing to lively Caribbean music performed by locals of St. Martin who are dressed in colorful costumes.
  4. Visitors who enjoyed the cocktails at Pinel Island can also enjoy a cocktail tasting at some of the local Caribbean and French bars in Grand Case.
  5. After some intimate beach time at Pinel Island, visitors can get social at Grand Case and make friends with many of the friendly locals of St. Martin.

What are the best restaurants on Pinel Island?

The best restaurants on Pinel Island are Karibuni restaurant and Yellow Beach restaurant. These two restaurants are some of the best restaurants in St. Martin that offer delicious fresh seafood on their menus. Listed below are the two restaurants on Pinel Island and what they have to offer.

1. Karibuni Restaurant

Karibuni Restaurant is located around the western corner of an 80 m (262 ft) long sandbar that extends out into the sea facing Saint Martin’s coast at Cul de Sac. Karibuni has rows of comfy beach chairs decked out along the western beach shore on Pinel Island.

Karibuni beach is the place to go for some freshly caught flavorful seafood and other tasty dishes on Pinel Island. The cost of renting two beach chairs and an umbrella at Karibuni restaurant is at least $25 (€22). The price range of meals at Karibuni restaurant is between $8 to $36 (€7 to €32). The food categories and some of the meals offered at Karibuni restaurant are listed below.

  • Tapas: saucy squid, pork spring rolls, codfish fritter, mini ribs, and tuna toast.
  • Salads: smoked fish salad, Thai beef salad, red tuna poke bowl, vegetable poke bowl, and tuna tartar & Mahi ceviche.
  • Fish and seafood: grilled river prawns, octopus fricassee, grilled mahi-mahi filet, live lobster, grilled cuttlefish, and grilled river prawns.
  • Meat: beef kebab, ribs, cheeseburger, and hamburger.
  • Desserts: natural or caramelized pineapple, brownie, and typical creole flan.
  • Drinks: digestifs, beers, juices, sodas, cocktails, water, a selection of wines, and champagne.

Karibuni restaurant offers a friendly and unique ambiance in their environmentally friendly wooden restaurant on Pinel Island. This restaurant provides different seating areas with a unique layout and their friendly staff are happy to usher guests to a comfortable seating place of their choosing and assist them in choosing the tastiest meals from their Creole and French-themed menus.

2. Yellow Beach Restaurant

Yellow Beach Restaurant is the first restaurant that can be seen by guests as soon as they arrive at the ferry dock on Pinel Island. Yellow Beach is situated on the western coast of Pinel Island.

Yellow Beach offers some of the tastiest meals on Pinel Island with freshly caught seafood and refreshing cocktails. The meals served at Yellow beach cost between $8 to $36 (€7 to €32) for adults and up to $12 (€11) for children under 12 years. The food categories and some of the dishes served at Yellow Beach Restaurant are listed below.

  • Appetizers: French fries, spring chicken rolls, fried squid, appetizer ribs, and snail pieces.
  • Salads: shrimp salad, chicken caesar salad, vegetarian salad, and fruity crab salad.
  • Main course: tuna steak with creole sauce, Pinel island-style pork knuckle, Tahitian style tuna tartar, and rib-eye steak.
  • Barbeque specials: fresh grilled lobster, pork ribs, St. Martin chicken legs, and fresh whole fish from the catch of the day.
  • Pizzas: Pinel pizza with cheese, basil, and fresh tomatoes, pepperoni pizza, Reine pizza with mushroom and ham, and Margo with black olive, cheese, and tomato.
  • Hamburgers: fish burger, goat cheeseburger, and bacon cheeseburger.
  • Kids: ground beef steak, chicken nuggets, and barbeque ribs.
  • Desserts: chocolate cake, ice cream bar, fresh fruit platter, and lemon sorbet with vodka.
  • Drinks: a selection of wines, soft drinks, classic and frozen cocktails, and champagne.

In addition to the incredible menu, Yellow Beach restaurant offers excellent service upon arrival on Pinel Island. The beach boy guides visitors from the ferry to their beach chairs lined along the clear turquoise blue waters.

Where to stay on Pinel Island?

Visitors may want to stay on Pinel Island when they see how breathtakingly beautiful this white sandy beach destination is. There is no hotel on Pinel Island. The island’s restaurant “Karibuni” is part of a luxurious boutique resort called Karibuni Boutique Hotel.

Karibuni Boutique Hotel is located in the French neighborhood of Cul de Sac which is at least 0.8km (0.5 miles) from Pinel Island. This hotel offers six intimate suites which provide panoramic views over Cul de Sac Bay from some of the private jacuzzi’s.

The average cost of a night at the luxurious Karibuni Boutique Hotel is between $326 to $422 (€288 to €372) for an entire suite. This hotel is the closest hotel to Pinel Island. Some of the services offered at Karibuni Boutique Hotel are listed below.

  1. A complimentary welcome drink on arrival for some refreshments before you venture out to Pinel Island.
  2. Private boat transfer to Pinel Island included in the accommodation package.
  3. Snorkeling gear to use when snorkeling at Pinel Island.
  4. Complimentary breakfast to enjoy before a day out at Pinel Island.
  5. Kayaks for guests to transport themselves to Pinel Island.
  6. Complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas for guests upon arrival at the Karibuni restaurant on Pinel Island.
  7. Beach towels to use while on the beach at Pinel Island.
  8. Food delivery service from other local restaurants to your room after the restaurants at Pinel Island close in the evening.

There are more options of accommodations that are either close to Pinel Island or that readily offer transportation to Pinel Island for a surcharge. Some of the best hotels in St. Martin can be found in other areas of the French side of the island as well as the Dutch side of Sint Maarten.

Many of the hotels near Pinel Island provide incredible sea views and offer quality service including boat transfers to Pinel Island, transport shuttle to the Cul de Sac ferry that goes to Pinel Island, snorkeling gear rentals to use on Pinel Island, and much more.

The average price for a night’s stay at some of the hotels that are close to Pinel Island is between $100 (€88) in a 2-star resort to $500 (€440) in a 5-star resort.