The Dutch Side capital Philipsburg of Caribbean island Sint Maarten




See how many of these iconic adventures you can check off your list before you go home.


By Alita Singh


Whether on land or below the azure waters off the coast, there is no shortage of things to do on St. Maarten/St. Martin. There is a path for every day, an option for everyone, and all the ingredients for a vacation you’ll never forget. The only question you’ll have after reading through these pages filled with myriad activities and attractions is this: How many more days should I extend my vacation by?



Take on the Waves

Just off the island’s many beaches is a world under the waves, one of reefs fluttering with life, sea creatures swimming free, and the serenity of diving into a wonderland. The options are endless for water outings — you can charter a boat, take a cruise, enjoy a water sport, and dive under the waves.



Tours with Aqua Mania Adventures open up the world above and below the water. Relax aboard a catamaran as it cuts smoothly through white-capped waves and listen to the seabirds call overhead. Look out for the majestic brown pelican, the island’s national bird. Take an around-the-island trip or visit some of the neighboring isles. Also, kindle romance or wind down your busy day on a sunset sail or dinner cruise with Aqua Mania.



Dive Sint Maarten is your top choice to get to unique dive sites such as the wreck of the HMS Proselyte, Carib Ghost, Fuh Sheng, and Big Momma. Night dives are also available for adventure seekers. If the ocean is calling to you but you aren’t certified, no worries. The crew at Dive Sint Maarten offers various PADI certification courses, including PADI Digital Underwater Photography. How about that for a souvenir from your tropical vacation?



One of the truly cool things about vacationing on this island is that you can have mini-vacations within your vacation, or a day trip, if you will. There are several ferry options to take you to neighboring St. Barths, Anguilla, and Saba. A newer option is to take the ferry to the history-rich island of St. Eustatius with a stop at Saba.



For sporty types, there are water sports aplenty. From jet-skiing and kitesurfing to parasailing and snorkeling, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Watersports and other fun activities can be found on all the major beaches.



If you prefer a more relaxed encounter with the waves, just claim your beach chair or lay down a towel on the beach and let the waves kiss your toes.





Learning about the origins and history of a place allows for better connections and can help you form ideas for experiences. Museums are places to do that. The tiny but information-packed Sint Maarten Museum in Philipsburg is in colorful Speetjens Alley off Front Street. The ground floor is a gift shop, and the upper floor is the curated history of the island from formation to present day.



Widen your island knowledge with a stop at Amuseum Naturalis, popularly called the “Old House Museum,” on the French side. This is an exploration of the flora and fauna of the island. A walk around the property rewards you with some lovely views of the surrounding area.



Did you know that you’re on an island with the world’s steepest zip line? Rainforest Adventures St. Maarten at Rockland Estate is home to The Flying Dutchman, a zip-lining experience like no other. Take the chairlift up to Sentry Hill, the highest point on the Dutch side of the island, and zip down in a few exhilarating minutes. Don’t opt out of trying the other zip lines or taking the sliding donut down the winding tube.



Go exploring off the beaten track with a bicycle or kayak from Tri-Sport. The kayak trips can take you through the wetlands around Simpson Bay Lagoon to experience mangroves, the cradle of sea life in this ecosystem. Why not take a historical bike tour through Philipsburg, bike between two countries with a cross-border trip, or challenge your group to the “Adventure St. Maarten Race” with Tri-Sport.



Seaside Nature Park is a great place for a different kind of riding: horseback riding on the beach and along a hillside. Horses are not the only animals at the park. Its pet farm is home for cute and furry farmyard creatures. There’s also a restaurant to fuel up for your ride or replenish after one.



How about a motorized tour with Solid ATV Scooter Rental? Head off on an around-the-island tour with stops at the most Instagram-worthy spots. You won’t regret it. Not everyone can say they drove an ATV through border points without having to show a passport.



The Rusty Parrot is a “sunken pirate ship” that allows you to escape into the life of a pirate below decks with an interactive experience and indulge in food and drinks topside. This is an excellent spot to sip a cocktail at sunset.



Vacations are about relaxing, and there is no better place than at a spa. At The Spa at Belmond La Samanna, get pampered as you drift away in a lush garden. It’s like melting off into the Garden of Eden.



The Nectar Wellness Spa at Oyster Bay Beach Resort uses natural skin care treatments made on island from aromatherapy and plant ingredients. A treatment at Nectar Wellness Spa is like absorbing the island into your skin.




Island Spirits and More

Make time to visit the SXM Beer brewery in Cole Bay.  The beer is an experience in a bottle. Take the tour, have a cold beer, and add another unique experience to your roster.



Dutch Blonde Experiences is the place to challenge your ingenuity in one of the four escape rooms at Dutch Blonde Beach Bar. Strengthen your courage before heading in or reward yourself after with one of their locally made craft beers. You can learn all about the process at their brewery in Point Blanche.



Tour Topper’s Rhum Distillery and learn how the potent potable is made. Sample the rum, pick your favorite, have a cocktail, and get a bottle or two to take home.



Of course, you haven’t truly experienced St. Maarten/St. Martin if you go home without getting “jet blasted” in Maho Beach. The beach runs along one end of Princess Juliana International Airport. At this end, large planes turn in preparation for takeoff. That’s the source of the jet blast. The landing planes are also quite a treat as they come in low over the beach — so low it seems like you can reach out and touch their bellies.



As you can see, there’s something for everyone on this island paradise. Let’s see how many of these signature experiences you can add to your itinerary!



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