Sea turtle

Eco Bliss

Discover the natural wonder of St. Maarten/St. Martin’s ecotourism experiences, from underwater marvels to lush green trails.


By Alita Singh


When you picture an island getaway, you may imagine a sun-soaked sandy beach, palm fronds dancing in the breeze, and laid-back loungers waiting for a seaside reprieve. But there is much more to St. Maarten/St. Martin than what first meets the eye; it’s also home to lush trails, diverse marine life, and an avian paradise. This Caribbean gem beckons with adventures that satisfy the soul’s yearning for natural beauty and the thrill of discovery.


As the island’s environmental authority, the Nature Foundation manages the island’s dive sites. Divers can explore the various dive sites throughout the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. Divers must purchase a dive tag online, and vessel operators must register their boats to use the moorings with the foundation. The Sea Turtle Monitoring is another way the foundation takes care of the milieu. In nesting season, the community can assist with monitoring beaches and to increase awareness about sea turtles.


Another way to see nature is from above the water by opting for a kayaking tour with Tri-Sport through the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Many of the island’s mangroves have been replanted or regrown since Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. Tours like this bring you up close and personal with the lush mangroves that serve as fish nurseries and nesting cover for birds.


Bird-watching has grown in popularity on the island. More birds have returned to nest and live in the plentiful mangroves around the remaining ponds. Some 164 recorded bird species in various habitats can be found here. This rock is essential for water birds, with 50 species recorded, 18 of which breed here. Visit for planned bird-watching activities or venture out on your own.


Hiking is a great way to see the island from a different point of view. Trails cut along the velvety green rolling hills of the island, with an option for leisurely hikes or more intensive undertakings. The Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation usually hosts a monthly hike. Each hike caters to a different intensity level. Local groups host numerous other hikes, which are often posted online.


EPIC is very involved in the protection and restoration of the mangroves. The foundation’s Restoration Program has brought back life to areas impacted by Hurricane Irma. This program has aided to improve the overall health of the fauna dependent on this ecosystem.


Another good way to explore the island is with Seagrape Tours. There are interesting options for all ages and tastes. Love history? Seagrape has a tour to delve into the past. Interested in the local culinary offerings? There’s an option for that as well. Tours are an interactive way to engage with nature and see things from a different perspective, and they are designed for people of all abilities.


The best way to see this gem of an island is to explore its natural wonders. Go inland and discover the many species of trees not found elsewhere. Look out for the plentiful iguanas; hopefully, you’ll get a treat by spotting the endangered Lesser Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima).


Enjoying the beaches is top on everyone’s list. The Beach Cleaning Foundation is an often-silent hand behind the island’s pristine beaches. The foundation uses a donated beach-cleaning machine to clear the sargassum weed from the shoreline to give easy access to the crystal-clear water and the sandy shoreline.


While exploring, prioritize safety and respect for the environment. Avoid disturbing the plants and animals on land, and while the coral may be beautiful underwater, it should never be touched or taken as a souvenir. Enjoy these natural treasures where they belong and help preserve them for future generations.





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