The beaches are gorgeous – crystal clear, sparkling water in coves lined with palm trees. It’s just what you would expect for a tropical paradise. There’s waterfront bars everywhere, all serving up rum punch, delicious Carib beer and island snacks, pumping out bouncy Rastafarian tunes. You definitely feel like you’re on holiday from the moment you arrive.
Top Tips for exploring St Martin:
- Hire a car for at least a day to sightsee. Make it the smallest car you can hire! The roads are tiny and the drivers are crazy. Like, really crazy.
- Do a boat tour around the island – I loved Billy’s Boat Tours.
- Spend $12 on a ferry to go to Pinel Island for a day. It’s a stunning island and it’s a great place to spend a day relaxing, meet some iguana friends and enjoy the tropical vibe.
- Do your research for where on the island you want to stay. I think where we stayed in Simpson Bay was perfect for us. If I wanted a quieter holiday I would have stayed in Grand Case by their stunning beach and if I just wanted to party I would have stayed in Maho.
- The buses are fantastic for getting around the island easily. They’re either going one way around the island or the other and cost approx. $1.50 each. You just hail them down anywhere on the road and they come about every 5 minutes. They’re actually just Vans with signs in the front indicating which way they are heading.
- If you’re looking to buy some diamonds, the Caribbean is a great place. I did some research so you don’t have to. Blog coming soon!
- Happy hour is very happy! Be prepared to fall in love with Rum Punch and Carib beer. It’s just so damn refreshing.
- Supermarkets are your friend. There’s a high chance you’ll need after sun and more sunblock. Maybe some afternoon beers. We bought eggs, toast, bacon and berries and made a delicious breakfast at the hotel every morning.
St Martin, also known as SXM or St Marteen depending who you talk to is a fun filled island in the Caribbean. There’s a Dutch side and a French side so there’s a few different ways of saying it’s name. It’s pretty tiny – only approx. an hour to go around the entire island by car. Most of the locals speak French and have also learnt English however I found myself pulling out the basic French I knew a fair amount.
The island is right next to St Barth’s and there are many direct flights there from different parts of the US, although it took us three flights from Vancouver.
We stayed in Simpson Bay at the Royal Palm Beach by Diamond, not far from the airport and Maho on the Dutch side. It was the perfect location for us, not too far from the nightlife, a bus away from Philipsburg and surrounded by restaurants and bars with a supermarket in walking distance.
My favourite part of travel is always the people I meet (and the food if I’m honest – read about what I ate here) and St Martin was no exception. I love their accents and relaxed way of being. They’re truly on island time and are happy to sit and chat and share stories and tips with you. Most of them have lived there their entire lives although we did meet a few from Jamaica and surrounding islands. It’s a safe place, there’s security everywhere as a preventative and we always felt looked out for.
I would absolutely head back to St Martin for another holiday!