St Martin, an island run by both the Dutch and French, sits in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Tourists from around the globe flock to the island to relax under the sun, enjoy the vibes, and marvel the magnificent marine life. Lots of St Martin vacation home rentals are available to make your trip perfect.
Where is St Martin?
The Friendly Island is in the northeast Caribbean Sea a few kilometres to the south of Anguilla. St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat are just over 100 kilometers to the south. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are west. The 87km2 island itself is split between Sint Maarten to the south taking up about 40% of the landmass and Saint Martin. Sint Maarten, on the Dutch side, gets more visitors and has a better tourist infrastructure than their French neighbors to the south. Tourists can travel from one side to the other without facing passport control or security checks.
How to Get to St Martin:
Citizens from the United States, Canada, and countries in the EU don’t need to apply for a visa before they visit St Martin. Many other nationalities can also travel to both sides without applying for a visa beforehand. The length of stay varies depending on where you’re from and tourists should always check the requirements in advance.
Regular flights take tourists from the United States and Canada to Princess Juliana International Airport (St Maarten). Direct flights from both France and the Netherlands also have weekly routes. The Grand Case on the French Saint Martin gets fewer compared to the major airport on the Dutch side.
Visitors can also visit other nearby islands including Anguilla by ferry services. Boats to other neighboring destinations may or may not be operating.
How to Get Around in St Martin:
Renting a car is the easiest and most convenient way to get around. The airport and cities have a number of rental companies where tourists can get a vehicle for a reasonable daily rate. Driving is more chaotic on both parts of the island but it doesn’t take long to get familiar with the style and most motorists feel safe.
Scooters are also available from the rental kiosks around the airport and in the city center. Riders need to be more confident to use two wheels. Though, it’s highly rewarding as you ride with the wind in your face along the coastal roads.
Public buses are fairly reliable taking the locals from one town to the next in no time at all. Costs are quite low and riding one is a good way to experience the local way of life. Taxis line the street but are expensive.
The Top Attractions:
Most tourists arrive at Princess Juliana International Airport and stay in the capital city of Sint Maarten, Philipsburg. Tourists enjoy the duty-free shopping or take a relaxing stroll along the boardwalk. A highlight is soaking up the sun along the many beaches. Water sports are prolific with snorkeling, diving, and jet skiing being very popular.
Watching the planes land over Maho Beach is a favorite for tourists and the braver ones hold onto the fence when the jumbo jet takes off. Sint Maarten Museum is worth visiting to learn more about the island’s history and to see photographs from the past. The Guavaberry Emporium nearby produces a liquor from guavaberries, sugar cane, and rum. This is the official drink of the island. If you’re looking for something different, visit the Butterfly Farm. Thousands fly around inside the enclosure and you can learn all about their life cycle. This is popular with families who have small children.
There are two historical forts on St Maarten: Amsterdam Fort and Fort Louis. Both are in a ruinous state and defended the island from European settlers. Pic Paradise, the tallest point of the island, and Loterie Farm at the foot of the hill are also places of interest. Loterie Farm was a former sugar plantation that now has luxurious swimming pools, tropical gardens, and ziplines.
Other activities include visiting some of the 37 beaches on the island. A quick tip is to double check the rules and etiquette of the beach you want to visit to avoid a nasty shock of ending up on a clothing-optional stretch of sand!
If you’re into snorkeling or want your own secluded stretch of beach, take a day trip to one of the nearby islands. Prickly Pear and Saba offer some of the best marine life and coral reefs in the area. Both are full of flora and fauna including several species of birds. You can visit the islands as part of a tour or by getting your own boat.
Anguilla is a short distance from St Martin with ferries departing every 20 minutes from Marigot. The British Overseas Territory has several protected areas, caves, and petroglyphs believed to date back to prehistoric times. A number of art galleries with unusual exhibits sculpted from driftwood are in Anguilla. This is a good day trip if you have the time, but do be aware that you’ll need to cross the border and will likely have to fill in a customs form. Whilst the procedure isn’t difficult, some find it time-consuming and a little frustrating.
The Magic of St Martin:
St Martin is a magical destination with endless beaches and water sports. Tourists can soak up the atmosphere, learn about the island’s history, and take day trips to nearby islands – the perfect recipe for an awesome vacation.