From ziplining to snorkeling to sunbathing, you'll find a wealth of activities on Saint Martin/Sint Maarten - most of which involve the outdoors. Taking a sunset cruise or sailing expedition around the island is a great way to experience the water and enjoy the beauty of the island. Snorkeling and scuba diving is also excellent. In addition, the heavily-forested island has great walking trails.
Avoid: Spending all your time in the downtown area of Philipsburg - there's a lot more to the island than just shopping.
Hot Tips: In addition to ziplining, Pic Paradise offers an exotic swimming pool perfect for day trippers to lounge by.
Where to Stay
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten has an array of hotel options. Though the architecture and design differs in style depending if you're on the French Saint Martin side or the Dutch Sint Maarten side, you'll still find everything from hostels to 5-star resorts on the island. Many of the most popular hotels are located on the beach, but don't discount accommodations located in the lush rainforest center of the island, which can often be more affordable and just as lovely.
Hot Tips: Choose a resort with a harbor if you're hoping to do lots of sailing and water activities.
With two nationalities on the small island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, it's no surprise that cuisine is diverse. In addition to finding French cuisine on the French side and Dutch cuisine on the Dutch side, you'll also find that both sides of the island serve up delicious seafood and Cajun options.
Avoid: Restaurants right by the cruise ship terminal. They're often touristy and expensive.
The nightclubs and bars on the Dutch side of the island have a distinct beach feel to them. Wear your flip-flops and just get ready for a good time. On the French side of the island, you can find some bars and clubs that are a bit more dressy. On either side of the island, there's plenty of options to party the night away.
Hot Tips: Head to Bliss for rooftop partying complete with a pool.
The Dutch side of the island is a shopper's paradise. The first few streets, parallel to the beach once you arrive in Sint Maarten, are full of souvenir shops, jewelry (both local flavor and high-end diamonds and gold), clothing and apparel, and artisan crafts. The French side of the island also has shopping, but not to the same extent, though you can find some great boutique shops there.
Hot Tips: Head to the esteemed Diamonds International for top-of-the-line diamond shopping.