Excursions, activities and attractions to explore on St Maarten

No matter what your preference is, there’s something for everyone in this Caribbean paradise.

You may not have time to take in all the sights this time around, but there are some attractions on this Dutch-French island you simply must experience before you head back home. Here are some that deserve a place on any visitor’s to-do list. Don’t worry if you can’t get around to all of them. After you’ve had a taste of St. Maarten / St. Martin, you’re sure to come back for more.


Water Works

This 37-square-mile island is surrounded by water, so it goes without saying that you’ll want to get wet at one or several gorgeous beaches. Try your hand at a water sport, then take time to soak up sun and relax on the sand. If you prefer no tan lines, opt for the clothing-optional Orient Bay or Cupecoy beaches.

That’s just one way to hit the blue on St. Maarten / St. Martin. Explore the outer isles with Aqua Mania Adventures or go beneath the water to discover a colorful world of sea creatures and coral reefs. Eagle Tours offers a leisurely and memorable sunset sail. Sip Champagne as you watch the sun journey to its nightly sleep. There are also options to sail to other islands or to just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Want to meet St. Maarten’s famous ritzy neighbor? Great Bay Express can take you over to St. Barths for a day (or overnight) trip. Explore the winding roads and shell beaches in this charming seaside retreat. Be on the lookout for celebrities.

Sea Trek St. Maarten will be your gateway to a whole new world under the white-capped waves. Don a helmet with a continuous supply of air to explore the ocean floor. You don’t need certification; it’s easy and fun — and your hair won’t get wet!

How about swinging on water? Random Wind is home to the Tarzan Swing, and it’s rated for everyone. But wait, this adventure has more than a swing on water. There’s sailing, swimming, snorkeling and good eats, too.

Or you can nurture your competitive spirit at the St. Maarten 12 Metre Regatta. Join the crew of an authentic America’s Cup sailing yacht and race against waves, wind and, of course, other boats.


For Landlubbers

Do not leave the shores of this island paradise without experiencing what it’s like to have a large plane fly over your head. Maho Bay Beach is the place for this. Jetliners heading for Princess Juliana International Airport come in low for landing and let off a heavy stream of “jet blast” for takeoff. Hold on to your hat!

You’ll find thrills as well at Rainforest Adventures St. Maarten at Rockland Estate, which has the world’s steepest zip line: The Flying Dutchman. Zip from hilltop to hilltop and ride a doughnut to the bottom. After your bird’s-eye view, get a glimpse into the past at the park’s Emilio Wilson Museum.

History buffs also will want to spend some time at the St. Maarten Heritage Museum. In a cozy alley off bustling Front Street, the museum brings visitors face to face with facts and artifacts. Then walk over to Captain Hodge Wharf on Great Bay Beach to the World War II Monument to read the names of those brave souls from the Dutch Caribbean who gave their lives for freedom.

A great way to visit historic sites — and get in a bit of exercise — is to sign up for bicycle tour with Tri-Sport ecotours. Pedal your way along beaches and through Philipsburg for a tour that’s scenic and informative.

Cycling, of course, is just one way to see the sights. Maybe you can’t make a horse drink, but you can lead one to water at Seaside Nature Park. The park offers horseback riding on the beach and along a hillside for a different perspective of the island. Also here is a pet farm where children and grown-ups alike can make friends with furry farmyard creatures.

St. Maarten Nature Island Tours has various options to see another side of island life by taking an ATV Adventure or Jeep Excursion. Tours cover almost every location on the Dutch and French sides of the island.

Perhaps you’d like to go on a one-of-a-kind treasure hunt by car or scooter to find all four border points on the island. The points are marked by flags, obelisks or signs. Upload a photo with one foot in France and another in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You can zip around on a scooter from Johnny’s Scooter and ATV Rental or get behind the wheel at any of several car-rental agencies.

Can’t decide what to do first? SXM Deals offers a variety of tour options, on land and on water. The folks there will be happy to help you find the adventure that’s right for you.

With so many ways to spend your days, you’re bound to look forward to some blissful relaxation. You’ll find it at one of the island’s top-rated spas. What better way to wind down than with a massage enhanced by aromatherapy and the soothing sounds of the tropics? The Spa at Belmond La Samanna features treatment rooms opening out onto lush tropical gardens, and personalized treatments await at the Orsana Center.


Take It Home

Don’t just capture memories on your camera. Bottle them at Tijon Parfumerie. Craft your own fragrance with essences and extracts from around the world. Experts are on hand to guide you through the process.

Visiting Topper’s Rhum Distillery is another must-do experience you can cap and carry home. Tour the distillery and sample a variety of flavored spirits. Then take a bottle back with you to enjoy with family and friends.


SXM Moments

These influencers share their top St. Maarten / St. Martin experiences.

We’re both from Canada, but we met in 2010 at The Red Piano in Pelican and got married in 2016 at Mary’s Boon in Simpson Bay. Our Instagram is all about our love of travel, but we never miss an opportunity to showcase our beautiful island. Our favorite things about St. Maarten are the world-class restaurants, soaking up the sun on an around-the-island boat tour, the crystal-clear waters and all the rum punch you can drink. St. Maarten is an amazing place to visit, but it’s an even better place to call home.

Here’s a picture of me at my favorite beach. It’s the one spot I always take visitors to because it’s so unique and beautiful. It’s never the same under the pier in Grand Case. The time of day, roughness of the sea, the tide and the way the light enters can all have an effect on how it looks under the pier. I love everything about Grand Case, from restaurant row to the lolos, the beach and the hotels. It’s my favorite place in the world.

I love to go on wild adventures to see the natural beauty our island has to offer. We have many amazing hiking trails that lead to different surprising spots where you can see an array of wildlife, fauna and flora. There are trails that lead to hidden beaches, natural pools or mountaintop views of the entire island! Explore our island paradise and then reward yourself with amazing international culinary experiences. I love my island so much because in one day I can combine my love for food, culture, fun and nature.


Top 5 Reasons for Visiting SXM

Many visitors return to St. Maarten / St. Martin again and again to enjoy the island’s 37 sun-kissed beaches and all the wonders at sea. But there’s more to this scenic slice of paradise than just sun, sand and sea.

St. Maarten / St. Martin is a world-class destination packed with first-rate attractions and amenities. Yet for all its sophistication, the island radiates a welcoming feel. No wonder it’s known throughout the West Indies as the “Friendly Island.” Folks feel at home here every time they visit. Here are the top five reasons to put this island on your must-visit, must-return-to list of destinations.


1. Consistency and Familiarity

St. Maarten / St. Martin is well developed but by no means overdeveloped. Laze away a sunny afternoon on a pristine beach and then treat yourself to a spa massage. Resorts and other accommodations are world class, offering every sort of creature comfort. A high standard of living and dependable infrastructure make St. Maarten / St. Martin a holiday destination you’ll want to visit again and again.


2. Activities and Attractions

Small in size, St. Maarten / St. Martin towers over other islands when it comes to recreation. Your options are practically unlimited. You can play the day away on water and on land, try your luck at a casino table, meet up with pals at a beach bar or simply tap your toes to a beguiling island beat.


3. Food, Spirits and Nightlife

The island’s reputation as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” is well deserved, especially in towns like Grand Case, on the French side. Top chefs from around the world come to the island to stir the melting pot and blend the diverse flavors brought here by its settlers. Book a table or fill a picnic basket with a round of Gouda imported from the Netherlands and a fine wine brought in from France.


4. Caribbean and Cosmopolitan

Since the 17th century, the island has been shared by The Netherlands and France, and each side reflects the distinctive ambience of its mother country. To sample the culture of both countries, just cross the border. No passport is required. In addition, St. Maarten / St. Martin is a melting pot of cultures. More than 120 nationalities are represented here.


5. Location, Location, Location

It’s easy to reach this crossroads in the Leeward Islands, where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. It’s a neighbor of regional transportation hub Puerto Rico, and several airlines fly directly to Princess Juliana International Airport from France, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada. St. Maarten/St. Martin is also a favorite port of call for most major cruise lines and makes a great base for island hopping.