Let’s face it: we’re all in dire need of a vacation. The past two years have been far from breezy, which makes the thought of a tropical breeze even more enticing. When it’s finally time to enjoy some R&R away, there’s no better place to do so than on St. Martin, the colourful island shared by two nations, France and The Netherlands. Packed with picturesque beaches, premium restaurants, thrilling activities and shopping hubs, there’s something for everyone on this hidden gem of a destination.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker, foodie or just in need of some solid beach time, we’ve got you covered. Dive into our all-encompassing self-care travel guide and start preparing for your trip to “the friendly island.”
If adventure and time in nature is your favourite way to de-stress, you’re in luck. St. Martin has a wide variety of outdoor activities that will satisfy any adrenaline junkie. Go ziplining and hiking at the Loterie Farm. Scuba dive below their clear Caribbean waters, or keep your head above water with a number of thrilling water sports, including jet skiing and parasailing—the list goes on.
The French side of St. Martin is globally known for its French-inspired fine dining scene and has been recognized in many international competitions including the World Culinary Awards. If your favourite way to unwind is through your stomach and you’re a lover of fresh seafood and simple ingredients, you’re in for a treat. Visit La Villa Hibiscus, situated at the highest point of the island, for an ultimate evening of decadence and luxury. L’Auberge Gourmande also offers fine French cuisine with a Caribbean twist located in Grand Case, the gastronomical capital of the island. Your taste buds will be singing by the end of your trip.
If rejuvenation is what you seek, St. Martin has a wide selection of luxurious hotels, resorts and spas. La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel, located on Baie Longue, on the west side of St. Martin, offers an array of services and amenities including massages, facials and body treatments, plus a pool, fitness centre and sauna to unwind in. Hotel L’Esplanade’s Ti Spa is another popular option for tailor-made treatments using simple and organic products to help you relax.
With 37 beaches on the island, we understand if you want to spend all your time by the ocean with an icy cocktail in hand.
For a more relaxing and private destination, Happy Bay is a lovely option with its soft sand and crystal blue waters. It’s only accessible by boat or walking trail through a neighbouring beach which means there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself.
If you’re looking for a bit more commotion, Orient Bay Beach on the French side is not only famous for its swimsuit-optional policy but also its surrounding beach bites and bars. Grand Case is also surrounded by fine restaurants and boutiques but is a bit calmer than Orient Bay.
Travelling with your family? Check out Grand Case Beach. It’s a quieter bay on the north side of the island, and ideal for families with small children.
St. Martin is well-known for being colourful, not only thanks to its eye-catching architecture but also its plethora of street art and murals. Famous artists from around the world have graced the friendly island with their talents. For example, Hektad is an artist from New York and is known for heart murals all around the world, including St. Martin’s Baie Rouge. In 2020, local photographer Donovane Tremor created a local association of artists and tasked them with beautifying St. Martin, especially after the detrimental damages of Hurricane Irma. The result was a series of bright and beautiful murals all across the city. Finally, Hommage Hotel in Marigot pays “homage” to its local artists through its wall-to-wall murals. The art continues inside; the gallery of St. Martin’s most famous artist, Sir Roland Richardson, is a must-see. If you have an eye for colour and art, take a stroll around the island’s vibrant streets and pop into their many different local art shops.
Ready to shop ‘til you drop? Luckily for you, St. Martin is the only Caribbean destination that offers duty-free and no/low-tax shopping on both sides of the island. On the French side, Marigot is known as the fashion district and offers a wide selection of chic boutiques and a mix of local and international stores, especially in the West Indies Mall (Lacoste, Guess and L’Occitane, to name a few). On the other end of the island, on Front Street in Philipsburg, it’s a luxury paradise with a huge selection of untaxed designer clothing and jewelry shops including Michael Kors, Gucci and Prada.
If you’re ready to let loose with a fun night out, St. Martin is where you need to be. The Dutch side of the island is well-known for its nightlife thanks to the lively strip of bars, restaurants and casinos. For live entertainment, head over to Red Piano or Toppers for some drinks and music. If you’re in the mood to dance the night away, the Rooftop Lounge at the Rainbow Café in Grand Case and Yellow Sub in Orient Bay are both hot spots to check out. The Blue Martini Bistro and Captain Frenchy by Fred are also must-visits. Plus: Due to the lower cost of spirits on the island, bartenders tend to have a heavier hand when mixing drinks, which can make for a fun trip overall but consider yourself warned.