Take a trip to Pinel Island; the closest on St Maarten / St Martin where an Atlantic beach meets a Caribbean beach!


Pinel island or ilet Pinel is a small (roughly in between of one kilometer and mile in surface) island right off the coast of French side St Martin. At its closest point, it is only 50 metres from mainland St Maarten / St Martin. A large inland bay separates it from French Cul De Sac and Orient Bay. Legend has it the island was called after a stranded pirate named Pinel. Nowadays, many residents and visitors “in the know” choose for a voluntarily Robinson Crusoe experience. Until the last boats depart this piece of paradise at 5pm that is, when the island becomes a full nature reserve. 

Best things to do on Pinel island


Snorkling with the family


Pinel island guarantees a full day of fun for the entire family. Its shallow and tranquil waters on the bay side provide a great location for families with  kids to snorkel and swim around. Its most shallow swimming area (maximum depth one meter / three feet) is confined by little buoys to protect swimmers from little boats anchoring the island. All of this within a bay marked by clear seas and pristine white sands below it.


Hiking on pinel


The island is a nature reserve, allowing for a variety of short hiking trails across the island. Amongst others, they lead to a smaller and a larger beach on the Atlantic side of the island. The latter is also an ideal location to spread your beach towel and have a beach for yourself – but remain aware of the strong currents of the Atlantic here when swimming. From this side of the island, a great view unfolds itself towards the also uninhabited Tintamarre island and St. Barths. All in all, 30 minutes suffices to explore the entire island.

Nature on Pinel Island


During the walk, you might have run into small land turtles. More probably, by now you have encountered your first iguanas or hermit crabs. On the bay side of the island, you find a large colony of iguanas. Harmless in general, the many visitors of Pinel have made the species on this island  extravert – don’t be afraid if they approach you as they just want to say hello. The large colony of hermit crabs, many looking like tiny pebbles until they start moving, can make massive and impressive migrations to the sea on many occasions. Lastly, when it pertains to St Maarten / St Martin nature phenomena,  the bay in between of Pinel island and Cul de Sac enjoy many visits of sea turtles.


Bars and restaurants on Pinel Island


When it is lunch time, two great restaurants are available on the bay side waterfront. Fresh lobster is a specialty of both. Make sure you make a reservation for your desired spot in either restaurant. Both also have beautifully situated seaside bars. On Saturdays and Sundays in the winter season, a recommendation for reservation is also in place if you want to make use of a beach chair. In general, it is advised to arrive well before noon on Pinel, because as you noticed a day in paradise might feel too short.

Boat to Pinel Island


Boats to Pinel island depart from the seaside parking lot of French Cul de Sac. They leave every 20 to 30 minutes; between may and November the frequency can be lower. The parking lot is free; a return ticket for the boat costs 10 Euro or 12 US dollar. You can use your return ticket any time you please until the island (and its amenities) close. At 5pm (sometimes slightly earlier in summer) the last boat departs back from Pinel.

How to get to Pinel Island

How to get to Pinel from Philipsburg


At the traffic lights at the end of Pondfill Road / WJ Nisbeth Road, turn right. Follow this road until you reach a roundabout and turn right again. Follow this road until it bends uphill and keep following it when it meanders through the hills down towards the border of Dutch and French Quarter. Keep driving the same road through French Quarter and along Orient Bay. See above for instructions as of Orient Bay.


How to get to Pinel from Maho, Marigot, Princess Juliana Airport (SXM), Simpson Bay and Grand Case


From Maho and Simpson Bay, take the large causeway bridge from the roundabout on the Simpson Bay Lagoon side of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway. At the roundabout to its north side turn left along the Concordia Monument. Continue through Marigot due north.

Remain on the main road along Grand Case and pass Grand Case Airport L’Esperance (SFG). You now reach a roundabout and turn left. Follow until you reach the parking lot where the boat departs.



How to get to Pinel from Oyster Pond and Orient Bay


To get to Pinel Island from Oyster Pond, take the road that crosses the border and follow this road through the village for five to ten minutes along the Atlantic coast. When you arrive on a junction in French Quarter, turn right. Continue this road along the main entrance of Orient Bay.

Coming from Orient Bay, continue the main road until you reach a roundabout. Turn right and follow this road all the way through Cul de Sac until you reach the sea.



Where to find Pinel Island


Find Pinel Island and other Beaches of St Maarten / St Martin on our Interactive Map or see the 360° video of the beach above!








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