20 Tips & Things to do in St. Maarten

Below is a list of 21 things to do to keep you on the go almost constantly on your St Martin vacation:

  • Ask your car rental company for a map of the island.
  • Take a ride around the island once. You will get your bearings and be able to plan some wonderful activities once you know how to get there. The island is about 37 square miles. One major road goes around the island. Things and sites veer off this main road and it is hard to get lost.
  • We have many recommendations and great deals for numerous activities that you can book before you go. Click here.
  • We recommend some of the daytime St. Maarten fishing charters and day sails around the island. You will get a water view as well as the road tour you took yourself. Show everyone the beautiful property you are staying in as you pass it on your sailboat.
  • Take a day sail to St. Bart’s. Bring your passport and bring Dramamine. It can be a rough sail. It is a very expensive island, so do not forget your credit card. This is a 15 mile sail on a catamaran.
  • Walk around Marigot for some exclusive St. Maarten shopping. Look at Oro de Sol, Cartier, Little Switzerland when you are in town.
  • Take the public ferry to Anquilla. Also bring your passport. Anquilla is a flat island with beautiful beaches. A taxi can give you a tour and wait for you as you swim or have lunch at one of their fabulous resorts. It is only 7 miles away from St. Maarten.
  • Fly to Saba. It is a flight you will not forget. There is a wonderful hike up to the rain forest. It is a very sleepy island and everyone has the same three last names. There are no beaches but there are good dive places there.
  • Spend a day on Pinel Island. Drive to the end of the road in French Cul de Sac and small boats ferry you across to Pinel Island. There is excellent St. Maarten snorkeling and swimming here. If Emile Larmony is your boat guy, tell him Roberta Valins sent you.
  • Spend a day at Orient Beach. It is often crowded with tourists so see if you like that. Great St. Martin restaurants and water sports are available there. Buses bring the cruise people here be prepared for lots of gawkers. This is a topless beach to be sure. It used to be nude but the government was cracking down on this. However don’t shudder if you neighbor is naked and put away your camera. Just hope they bring a towel when they sit at a restaurant on this St. Martin Beach. At the end of the beach is a naturalist resort where everyone is in the buff.
  • You can rent a chaise and umbrella at several restaurants. Just buy a drink and they will let you sit.
  • The next beach over is called Le Galion. Good for water sports and a nice restaurant. Not nearly as large as Orient but much calmer. Always be careful of rip tides on any beach that you go to. Any beach can be suddenly dangerous.
  • Go to the butterfly farm on the same road as Le Galion. Take the kids and go in the morning. See if you can get a guided tour. Take some nice photos of the butterflies and flowers.
  • We recommend a lunch at the Lolo Ladies in Grand Case. The ribs are great and so are the sides. There are several “booth” restaurants in the middle of town. You can get lobster, chicken or shrimp. Then go for a swim in this calm quiet beach. It is very relaxing. You will want to return to Grand Case in the evening to sample one of the 30 restaurants that make Grand Case the ‘Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean’.
  • Go to the Loterie farm. This spot is on the road to Pic Paradis. Have a great lunch there and take a hike up their mini rain forest. Check out the link and see what they have to offer for a wonderful morning or afternoon. Tell Julie, the wonderful chef, that Roberta Valins sent you.
  • Market days are usually Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Locals go to the dock in Marigot and pick up fresh fish and other stuff. There is a crafts market every day at the harbor, as well as a Caribbean food fest where West Indian women in batik dresses and big straw hats sell spices, fruit and other produce and fishermen scale their catches (mostly red snapper) using a broomstick lined with beer bottle caps.
  • Try a local museum or art gallery. Marigot has one. Musee de Saint-Martin in Marigot (Terres-Basses Rd., 590-29-48-36, Admission: $5), includes displays of the history and culture of the island going back 1,500 years. For those wanting a gander at, and perhaps a purchase of, quality Caribbean art, there’s Galerie Lynn (83 Blvd. de Grand Case, 590-87-77-24), Gingerbread Galerie (for Haitian art, Marina Royale, 590-87-73-21). Also stop at the Minguet Gallery on the way to Grand Case from Marigot.
  • Buy fruit from a road side stand. They are usually fresh and it is quicker than going in to a super market. There are some special St. Maarten shops for you to find for souvenirs to take home. We recommend you find Danielle in the Belvedere shopping center for lovely fabrics, platters, and other decorating items. Plantation in the Orange Grove shopping center has imports from Thailand and other for eastern countries. Look for a store called J.W Sloane on Welfare road. They have great vases for outdoor use and wonderful paintings that are copies of originals inside. You will be in for a treat. They have some surprises for sale like very fancy beach robes that were identical to those sold at one of the fanciest St. Martin hotels on the island.
  • Try a hangout like the Sunset bar at Maho Beach for great hamburgers and drinks and great place to meet people. Locals, students, and tourists all hang out at the Sunset. Always a favorite among the guests that stay at the Villalady’s St. Maarten villas.
  • Go to town late in the afternoon when the cruise ships have departed. The shops are open until 6:00 pm and you won’t feel like you have streaming people all over the streets. We like a little souvenir shop called Rima. Find it on Old Street. It has recently been sold to Kenny who has opened a shop with much of the merchandise the original place had.
  • Want to go on a fabulous fishing charter? Call Lee Halley. He is the owner of Lees Roadside Grill
  • in Simpson Bay. He also does 1/2 day charters.. 3/4 day and full day. You keep the catch. You get a free lunch or dinner for all those that were on the charter. Call Lee at 1-721-586-6979 at the grill or 1-721-544-4234 at his office.
  • A word of advice. Do not leave valuables in your car or trunk anywhere on the island. Take whatever is important or leave it home. St. Maarten can be a paradise, but you have to be aware or your surroundings and do not do foolish things. Treat your Caribbean vacation villa like your own home. Lock it when you leave for the day and when you go to bed.

A word to the wise: read the local newspaper to see what St. Maarten activities are going on. Thursday is the best day because it has all the coming weekend events but it is an interesting read every day. The one I read is the Daily Herald.

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