Saint Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It comprises 2 separate countries, divided between its northern French side, called Saint-Martin, and its southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten. St. Martin is known for fusion cuisine, vibrant nightlife and duty-free shops selling jewelry and liquor. Both sides of the island offer a touch of European culture along with a lot of laid-back Caribbean ambiance. Water sports are everywhere to include diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, and in early March, the Heineken Regatta. With the soft trade winds cooling the subtropical climate, it’s easy to relax on one of the 37 beaches, stroll Philipsburg’s boardwalk, and peruse the shops on Philipsburg’s Front Street or the rues (streets) of the very French town of Marigot.
When cruise ships are in port, and there can be as many as seven at once, shopping areas are crowded and traffic is pretty slow. Spend these days on the beach or the water, and plan a shopping excursion for the early morning or at cocktail hour.. Still, the feel of the sand between your toes or the breeze through your hair, gourmet food sating your appetite, and visiting two nations on one island is a slice of heaven. To learn more about all the beautiful beaches on St. Martin, visit here. Now view our St. Martin travel guide to help plan your next St. Martin vacation!
St Martin Weather – When to Visit
Like the other islands in the Caribbean, Saint-Martin has a tropical climate. The average annual temperature is 80.6°F, peaking at around 89.6°F. Temperatures rarely dip below 68°F. The temperature on St. Martin is stable and benefits from the trade winds. There is no rainy season as such and the showers are rather short In spite of the stable temperature on the island, there are two seasons : the dry season from December to April, and the wintering season from May to November.
The best time to visit St. Martin and St. Maarten is May and June or between November and mid December. These select weeks are times when hotels advertise their best rates. The island’s weather is pleasant year-round, but these are times when rain showers are less likely. Summer and early fall are not good for a vacation; many hotels close in this off-season and there’s a chance of hurricanes. Also avoid visiting in winter if you can. That’s when St. Martin and St. Maarten milks its wealthy vacationers.
St Martin Attractions
St. Maarten Museum
Arawak pottery shards, plantation-era artifacts, period photos and a few items from HMS Proselyte, the frigate that sank off Fort Amsterdam in 1801, are among the displays at this island history museum, along with exhibits covering 1995’s devastating Hurricane Luis, the salt industry and slavery. The little shop downstairs sells an assortment of Caribbean arts and crafts.
Wander along Boardwalk and take in the sights of the bustling area. Forming a vein separating the beach from the restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops on the other side, the boardwalk serves as a great place to meet people from all over the world as they amble in the sun, or watch the glistening ocean in the distance. Peruse the various shops and pick up a souvenir or two, rent a segway to get around, or simply people-watch. Note that the boardwalk can get busy when cruise ships come in to dock.
Loterie Farm is a private nature reserve where they have several treetop adventure obstacle courses as well as hiking trails. On top of that they also have our restaurant, Brasserie Loterie Farm, the Treelounge Tapas Bar and a pool area, L’eaulounge.
The Butterfly Farm
At the Butterfly Farm you will be escorted by your guide who will lead you through a specially created exhibition area of landscaped gardens. This is the butterflies own lush tropical garden playground! Here you will see hundreds of rare and exotic butterflies fluttering freely around you. The guide will identify different species, point out courtship and mating displays and tell butterfly facts and stories.
Simpson Bay Lagoon
Simpson Bay was the home of a Danish fishing community and for many years there was no bridge over the marshy area that allowed flow in and out of the lagoon. Things change. Today a large drawbridge opens six times a day to let mega-yachts into the Isla del Sol Marina and Princess Juliana Airport is next door. In 2012/3 a causeway was built from the airport to the Dutch side of the border on the eastern side of the lagoon. The area is ringed with hotels, casinos, and restaurants.
St Martin Tours & Activities
The Original Eco Tour – Full day around the Island of Sint Maarten / St Martin
Cruise around St Maarten with stops at Tintamarre, Creole Rock and Grand Case on this full-day sailing excursion. Explore the lovely natural beauty of Tintamarre, then head to Creole Rock for some of the island’s best snorkeling. Go ashore in Grand Case, the St Maarten’s culinary capital, for a gourmet lunch including wine. Cruise down the coast after lunch past Marigot Bay and Sunset Beach while enjoying an open bar. Round-trip transportation from St Maarten hotels is included. Read more about St Maarten Sailing and Snorkel Tour
Private Sailboat Charter
Let a crew take care of the day’s itinerary for you on a private catamaran charter off the coast of St. Maarten, with stops at secluded areas far from the crowds of Philipsburg. In addition to an open bar, enjoy a homemade lunch prepared on board and unlimited use of snorkeling gear, kayaks, and paddleboards. Unlike large group tours, a private charter offers an intimate, tailored experience. Read more about Private Sailboat Charter
St Martin Jet Ski Sunset Cruise
Watch the sunset from the back of a jet ski, glass of champagne in hand, during this 1.5-hour tour on St Martin. With your expert adventure guide and a small group, cruise out to a perfect vantage spot and float peacefully in the sea while the sun sinks below the horizon. On the way, visit a few beaches with the option for some snorkeling. All equipment is provided and no experience is necessary. Read more about St Martin Private Jet Ski Sunset Cruise
Full Day Trip Around St Martin
Charter your own speedboat and explore the entirety of St. Martin over the course of a day. Plan your itinerary for the day with your captain based on your interests and set out for a day of fun and relaxation. Visit areas such as Tintamarre and Creole Rock for pristine snorkeling, Pinel Island for a picturesque barbecue lunch, and La Sammana for a relaxing swim. Read more about Full day trip around St Martin Maarten
Best St Martin Restaurants
Restaurant at La Samanna $31 – 60
Recognized as one of the top restaurants in the Caribbean, with a bevy of awards, The Restaurant features contemporary French cuisine with a touch of the Caribbean. You’ll find an assortment of wonderful dishes to tempt you: an absolutely fabulous lobster sampling with five different preparations, pan seared foie gras, seared scallop on zucchini flower-parmesan risotto, roast squab breast, and braised veal cheeks. The resort’s wine cellar has earned Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence. Telephone: 590-590-87-6400 Web: Restaurant at La Samanna.
Restaurant Le Santal $11 – 30
The award-winning Le Santal has been earning raves since it opened in 1976. The cuisine is decidedly French, from appetizers such as lobster bisque, foie gras terrine and caviar with vodka, to chateaubriand for two, Provençal style prawns and scallops, and roasted lobster with champagne sabayon, right through to impossibly light dessert soufflés, crème brûlée, and crepes Suzette. The perfect place to impress a date or celebrate an anniversary! Spectacular views and impeccable service add to the overall fine dining experience. Telephone: 590-590 -87-5348 Web: Restaurant Le Santal.
Sol É Luna $31 – 60
Recognized by local publications for its romantic ambiance, this fine restaurant offers gorgeous terrace dining and incredible views from even the interior tables. The cuisine complements the scenery beautifully and features such dishes as scallops and shrimp on saffron risotto, a lush cioppino, pasta with lobster medallions, and a signature lamb that’s carefully spiced and cooked for seven hours. A great crème brûlée heads the list of desserts, and the wine list is primarily French. Telephone: 590-590-29-0856 Web: Sol É Luna.
Bistrot Caraibes $31 – 60
Whether you decide to try the house specialty of Lobster Thermidor, or the notoriously flavorful grilled rack of lamb, you can expect to have some of the best food that you have ever had in your life. Best of all, the foods that are served are always made with the freshest ingredients. Guests often marvel at the rich sauces that accompany dishes, the tender meat that often falls right off the bones, and the beautiful presentation of every single dish. Telephone: 1 059-029-0829 Web: Bistrot Caraibes
JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar $31 – 60
JAX puts the modern steakhouse and lounge together in one sexy package. With an atmosphere and style unlike anywhere else in St. Martin. The ambiance is great, the staff is amazing and it’s not super expensive. Telephone: 1 721-588-8884 Web: JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar
Best St Martin Beach Bars
Sunset Bar & Grill
Nestled between the runway and sea, the Sunset Bar has perhaps the most photographed beach in the Caribbean. Once a quiet place to have a cocktail and watch planes come and go, the Sunset has become a scene over the past few years…The planes come and go on schedule but the bar tends to be less scheduled and more…unscripted. Telephone: 721-545-2084 Web: Sunset Bar & Grill.
Mr. Busby’s Beach Bar
Dawn Beach is one of St Maarten’s most beautiful beaches. Located on the beaches north end, tucked under palm trees and sea grapes, you will find Mr Busby’s Beach Bar and Restaurant. You’ll also find very good food and a good friendly vibe. Telephone: 721-543-6088 Web: Mr. Busby’s Beach Bar.
Located right on Simpson Bay Beach on a quiet and calm stretch with soft sand just perfect for the whole family. The eclectic Karakter is open 9am-10pm and serves simply amazing food. Telephone: 721- 523-9983 Web: Karakter.
This beach bar will celebrate a 22-year anniversary this July. The iconic beach bar has stood the test of time for good reasons: location, location, location! Orient Beach is like a ground zero for beach party goers. And it’s a must on a tour de bar of St Martin or the Caribbean. Telephone: 0690-74-34-29 Web: Bikini Beach.
Lazy Lizard Beach Bar
Lazy Lizard Beach Bar and Grill is located right on the Philipsburg Boardwalk. They have delicious homemade food – with an island twist, of course – along with impeccable service and a gorgeous ocean view setting. Join them for lunch, drinks, or just relax on their beach chairs, while they serve you our hand crafted cocktails, appetizers and entrees. They also make their very own infused rum! And love to offer samples of all of their yummy flavors! Web: Lazy Lizard Beach Bar.
JabJabs Boat Bar
Hands down one of the best island experience
Best St. Martin Hotels
Belmond La Samanna
Belmond La Samanna offers a spectacular private beach, two poolside terraces, 83 luxurious rooms and suites and 8 recently renovated 4600sq. ft. villas with private pools. Enjoy its sophisticated food offerings and award winning wine cellar, indulge in its European Elysees Spa, or simply enjoy the privacy and relaxation of this sophisticated and sensual French-Caribbean enclave. Gourmet dishes are served in the elegant Trellis, and Baie Longue Bar offers pool-side dining and views of Baie Long Beach. Dine on your private terrace and later enjoy a drink from the wine cellar.
Grand Case Beach Club
Intimate and relaxing, small but large enough to have just the right amount of service that brings back our guests year after year. We are constantly improving and have updated and upgraded nearly every aspect of our resort, and will continue to do so.
Marquis Boutique Hotel
The Marquis is an intimate and exclusive 4star boutique hotel located in Anse Marcel Cove on St Martin’s French side. The 18 spacious room & suite accommodations have private terraces and a dramatic view of the ocean. Breakfast & restaurant services can be enjoyed in your room or around the pool. A full service at the beach is provided for hotel guests and a shuttle is at their disposal anytime. This secluded paradise’s reputed personal service adds to its appeal.
Divi Little Bay Beach Resort – All Inclusive
Explore the beauty and otherworldly charms of St. Maarten when you vacation at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. This resort is completely renovated and opening May 2018. Nestled on a private peninsula between two crystal clear bays — Little Bay and Great Bay — our Caribbean resort offers stunning beaches and close proximity to Phillipsburg, the Dutch capital.
Holland House Beach Hotel
The Holland House offers great charm, a unique ambiance and a rich Caribbean experience. Meet the friendly Islanders, relax and enjoy all that St. Maarten has to offer. The hotel is also located on Front Street, where you will find the best shops and boutiques on the island, all still Duty Free! The Hotel offers 54 rooms and suites all recently renovated, an award winning restaurant and wine cellar, a beautiful outdoor lounge deck and a magnificent beach right in front of the hotel with personal and attentive service.
What an absolutely stunning location for complete rest and relaxation.
I’ve always wanted to go to St. Martin … and so many other beautiful places like this.
Thank-you for providing so much great information. It appears St. Martin offers so much more than just lounging on the beach, although it would certainly be hard to tear me away from that!
Is there much crime here? Anything to worry about as a tourist?
I was just in St Martin in November. I did not experience any crime, nor was I worried. I felt completely safe. And the beach with the wonderful waves, oh it was wonderful! It is a great and beautiful beach destination for sure! Thanks for stopping by.
Such a nice place to travel. I would like to travel to St Martin after the hurricane is over. Such a good place to travel with such an informative sites here. You help me from searching information about St Martin. I have everything I need now to start planning, thanks!
You are very welcome and you will enjoy St Martin Jaden! I think that they will be ready for visitors by the beginning of next year which is not far off! You could probably start planning now if you want to get good rates. Let me know if you need any additional information. Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com
It looks like such a beautiful place, I really do hope they can pick up their pieces after the hurricane. Thank you for such a comprehensive review, I’m definitely adding this to my list of destinations for the future.
I believe that they will be able to. It is heart breaking that such beautiful islands such as St Martin has had such horrible devastation. It is definitely a destination not to be missed, once they are back up to their usual beautiful country. Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com
My former boss and his wife had a home there for several years. They spent a lot of time over there. They always seemed so much more cheerful and full of glee when they returned. Since then he has sold the the vitamin supplement company I currently work for and divorced his wife. Which i believe, is what had to do with why he put the home on the market. Which is kind of sad being faced with a personal situation that led to a decision where he had to leave a such a beautiful place. He told me when we last spoke the place sold right before the hurricane hit. I don’t know what kind of damage the home sustained if any. My prayers are with all who were affected and the recovery/restoration efforts.
Wow, how truly sad for your former boss. I suspect the house had tremendous damage, as St Martin was devastated pretty much completely. My prayers go out to them as well for a speedy recovery as a country. Thanks for reading my St Martin Travel Guide!
Great post! So sad what has happened there. You always have such comprehensive posts that cover everything.
I lookmforward to the island being repaired and bought back to its usual pristine state and visiting one day.
Thanks for a bucket load of information,
You are welcome Kevin 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed reading. They say it will be in the first part of 2018 before everything will be back to its usual self. So sad for such a beautiful country. Thanks for visiting!
i truely enjoyed this article as I have always wanted to visit as well as learn about the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. I could also relate to the talk about water sports as I have tried diving, snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing. I was shocked to know that U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a passport or a combination of a birth certificate and photo ID to even enter the Islands
Yes, I know but hey, it is all worth it when you get there. You can leave your worries back home, kick back, relax and enjoy the beauty! Thanks for reading the St Martin Travel Guide.
I hope and pray for the people of Saint Martin and all the others whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by these hurricanes; and that they will rebuild, recover, and heal quickly; and that their latter days will be greater, healthier, and more prosperous than their former days.
I really enjoyed your post and found it to be very informative and helpful about things to do, see, places to stay, eat, and just have fun while visiting Saint Martin. It brought back fond memories of my traveling days as a military flight attendant. Although, I have visited several islands during my travel, St Martin isn’t one of them. However, it is on my list of places to still visit and the information provided in your travel guide has increase my desire to do so. I’m looking forward to day when I will have the opportunity to visit.
One of the things my fellow flight attendants and I used to do when we had several days on the ground in a new location was to do our best to experience the local cuisine or national dish if the place was famous for one. For example, the island of Mauritius is known for its curry dishes, vanilla tea, and some of the sweetest pineapples you will find anywhere in the world. Do you know if St. Martin has a national dish its famous for? Also, do they have karaoke at any of the bars or restaurants? One of my traveling companions is a karaoke nut.
Thanks for all the great information. Wishing you God’s best!
Thank you for your great comments and I agree 100%. For national cuisine: On the French side their preferred delicacy is callaloo soup, a thick green soup made from greens with pork cubes, hot pepper, okra, black pepper, thyme and chicken stock. The Dutch side take pride in conch (large sea snail) seasoned with herbs, spices and served with dumpling. There are a few places with karaoke, they are Toppers, Red Paino, and the Sapphire cafe
Glad you enjoyed reading my St Martin travel guide!
Wow! What a comprehensive guide to St. Martin! Lots of great info for anyone wanting to visit, like me! I hope they can get the island fixed up quickly. I am from a tourist destination myself and know how an event like a hurricane can devastate the economy.
Thank you so much! Yes, I know too how it can affect the the economy. We just went thru Irma, and had some pretty bad damage around the state (Florida). The first they did of course, was clean up the beaches. Still waiting for them to come around and pick up my mile high pile of debris. Thanks for reading the St Martin Travel Guide.
The hurricane news really hit home for me. I was a victim of Katrina so I can relate to what they are going through. My prayers go out to them and I hope it gets fixed real soon. I’m making a donation thank you for spreading the word. You are kind and very informative. We need more people like you in the world today.
Thank you so much James, and we do need to spread the word. I know how scary it is, I had to evacuate from Irma. We did not have the total devastation, thank goodness, so I just can’t imagine the full force they had. Thank you so much for reading and helping!
I do so hope that St. Martin can eventually recover completely from the recent devastation that the island had to endure when Hurricane Irma hit. Seeing images that you posted of various sites within St. Martin it was, (and hopefully will one day return to being) a gorgeous vacation spot in the Caribbean.
Having read so many other articles posted on your tremendous site, you again did a superb job in explaining all of the different attractions, places to stay and eat, transportation choices among the many offered to people visiting St. Martin.
I did click on the first hotel linked, trying to find out what it would cost to stay there. With a deposit of around $560, this hotel is obviously not your old Howard Johnson’s mediocre quality hotel. It is probably quite expensive. However in the past visiting Hawaii and staying in fine hotels one has to remember that if you want to stay in a quality place, you have to be willing to pay the freight. That old saying “you get what you pay for”, would apply. It would also be well worth it.
I’ve never been there to St. Martin, my now deceased parents once visiting Aruba back in the late 1980s and loving it. Perhaps in the future I could visit St. Martin on a vacation. Perhaps though in the spring when there are less odds of a future hurricane hitting as can be the case in late summer through the fall.
Thank you Jeff for your well thought out and great comments! I too, hope that they can rebuild and become the beauty they were before this mass of hurricanes hit them. I know the effects, but luckily we were spared such devastation. And yes, you most certainly get what you pay for. I guess it all comes down to what type of vacation you are looking for. You can go for budget, or you can go for a vacation of a lifetime 🙂 Thanks for reading my St. Martin travel guide.
Wow this hurricane season was absolutely devastating to the Caribbean!!! Thank you for this post as St Martin is definitely one of the destinations that I am extremely interested in visiting. I have heard that this destination can be quite expensive though compared to other Caribbean destinations. Is this also the location where the arriving airplanes come right over the beach on their approach path?
Thanks for sharing.
Yes, and yes. St. Martin is expensive to vacation to, yet it is one of those memorable places that you will always remember and smile about. And yes, you can sit at the beach and look up at the airplanes which is a truly spectacular sight. The beach is Maho beach, but unfortunately the airport was completely destroyed in the hurricane. They are rebuilding, but might not be until 2018 to enjoy this wonderful site again. Thanks for reading BeachTravelDestinations.com!
I’ve always wanted to go there! I had a friend when I was young whose family went every year and he would come back so happy and excited about the things he got to do (and the beautiful weather). The treetop obstacles sound amazing and would probably be my first stop.
As someone living in a hurricane affected area myself I sincerely appreciate you updating with hurricane news and a way to donate. May their recovery be speedy.
I agree and I too live in a hurricane area and recently had to evacuate for Irma. It is horrible and I think that we all need to support these countries to help them get back to their beauty they were before the hurricane. Thanks for reading, and yes St. Thomas is absolutely beautiful.
Sorry to hear about the hurricane news and I bet the restoration work will be finished in no time. Other than that, thanks for sharing about this place. Very beautiful place to visit instead. I am planning for my next trip with my wife and I think this is one place to consider for sure. Would share this with my wife and see what she thinks about it.
Ok, you and your wife will love it here. I do have to say that they are hoping for restoration and visitors by 2018. Gives you plenty of time to save up 🙂 Enjoy and let me know if you need any help with planning. Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com.