Tri Sport, activities on St Maarten, excursions by land




By Jeffrey Laign

Why did you choose to vacation in St. Maarten/St. Martin? If you’re like most first-timers, you probably were drawn to this island paradise because you read that it’s the best beach destination in the Caribbean. It is. How could it not be, with 37 postcard-perfect shores? But as repeat visitors will tell you — and you surely will count yourself among them after you’ve had a taste of the place — St. Maarten/St. Martin is so much more than sandy shores. Inland is a trove of scenic sights and attractions that are certain to please those who like to get out and make the most of a land-based day. Here are some of the best ways to do it.



Rent a mountain bike and build up your strength and endurance, along with your appreciation of an impressive terrain of rolling hills, soaring peaks, and a shoreline kissed by gentle surf. Coast leisurely through the French flatlands or along seaside trails from Cay Bay to Fort Amsterdam and Mullet Beach. Serious pedal pushers may want to take on the 35-mile-long road that encircles the island or challenge themselves to ascend more than 1,400 feet to the top of Pic Paradis, the island’s highest point.



Here’s another way to spend a memorable day while working those leg muscles. Both sides of the island are marked with well-maintained hiking trails, including eight mapped and cleared by EPIC, a local environmental group. Dedicated hikers who scale Pic Paradis, the island’s highest point, are rewarded with magnificent vistas. Others may choose to hike along the undeveloped coastline of Guana Bay and Point Blanche before treating themselves to a refreshing dip in a natural pool.



St. Maarten/St. Martin may not be known as a golfing mecca, but club swingers will find lots to love about the long-established Mullet Bay Golf Course. Master golfer Joseph Lee sculpted the 18-hole, par-70 course around a lovely lagoon. In addition, Oyster Bay Beach Resort recently added a putting green near its entrance, just steps from Dawn Beach. The deep green perimeter frames 3 holes and accommodates multiple guests.



The American Tennis Academy on the French side features two lighted courts and structured programs, lessons, clinics, and rentals for juniors and adults of every skill level. In addition, you can play on quality courts at several resorts around the island.



If you’re in love with tennis, you may want to try this new sport that’s gaining aficionados across the island. A mix of tennis and squash, it’s usually played in doubles on a glass-enclosed court. The SXM Padel Club, across the street from the Belair Beach Hotel, features two state-of-the-art lighted courts for day and night play, showers, changing rooms, a bistro and bar, and a retail pro shop. Players can rent the courts by the hour via the SXM Padel Club app. Padel rackets and balls are available for rent. Guests can also book private or group classes.



Also at the Padel Club are two regulation lighted courts where you can try your hand at the French version of lawn bowling. The sport is gaining in popularity on this island that mixes European charm with Caribbean flair.



Here’s a game that combines elements of racquetball, badminton, and table tennis. It’s a challenging sport you play with a wooden paddle and a hard plastic ball with holes. After a couple of lessons, you’ll understand why competitors of all ages are taking up this fast-growing sport.


Horseback Riding

Saddle up at Lucky Stables and saunter through Seaside Nature Park, a 30-acre preserve that provides a home to iguanas, mongooses, and, of course, championship horses that are born and bred here. Beautiful winding trails lead you to a splendid lookout point. If weather permits, you can take in views of Saba and Statia (Sint Eustatius). Couples, meanwhile, can toast each other with champagne after a romantic ride. Later, you can end the day with a refreshing swim with your horse in the ocean. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience!



Horsepower offers another pathway to fun on St. Maarten/St. Martin. Sign up for a Segway excursion on the Dutch side. Rent a car at Dollar/ Thrifty and tour the island at your own pace, or tackle the terrain on an ATV, scooter, buggy, or quad bike. Solid ATV Scooter Rental can set you up for a fun-filled day.


Cultural Excursions

You can’t really get to know St. Maarten/St. Martin without learning a bit of its history and culture. The best way to do that is to book a tour. How about a shopping tour of Philipsburg or a sipping tour of Topper’s Rhum Distillery? You can also spend several fascinating hours at Amuseum Naturalis, which maintains a bush tea garden showcasing the island’s medicinal plants, along with agricultural displays, poetry exhibits, and more.


The whole family, moreover, will enjoy stepping back to the days of yore at The Rusty Parrot, a “scuttled ship” in Philipsburg like those once used by marauding pirates. It’s an immersive experience designed to show what life was like for infamous Caribbean pirates like Jack Rackham, known to history as Calico Jack. Visitors learn more about the infamous buccaneer through special effects and many surprises. Topside, enjoy drinks and tapas along with memorable views of Philipsburg and Great Bay.


Outdoor Adventures

For the thrill of a lifetime, zoom down a mountain on The Flying Dutchman, the steepest zip line in the world, at Rainforest Adventures St. Maarten. Also unforgettable is a guided ecotour of the island.


Make your way on foot along a rocky, undeveloped coastline or explore the countryside on a Jeep tour from St. Maarten Nature Island Tours. In addition, Tri-Sport offers a variety of hiking, biking, and kayaking tours. You’re apt to encounter a variety of plants, animals, and birds as you learn more about the island’s distinctive terrain and ecosystem. After your adventure, cool down and refresh yourself with a memorable taste of St. Maarten, a cold beer from one of the island breweries.



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