People riding jetski's on the turquoise waters of St Maarten / St Martin



By Jeffrey Laign


For fun on, above, or under the waves, St. Maarten/St. Martin offers an array of ways to have fun in the water.


St. Maarten/St. Martin is famous for many reasons — cuisine, culture, and a unique Dutch-French heritage — but it’s the island’s warm, clear water that attracts many visitors, especially active, adventurous types. This one-of-a-kind island boasts 37 beaches and an impressive array of ways to enjoy them. Straddle a Jet Ski or challenge the waves on a surfboard. Dive down to discover a colorful new world or strap on a water-propelled jet pack and kiss the sky. On your island vacation, you’ll find practically endless ways to get your adrenaline going above and below the surface.



Here’s a water sport that will take you to new heights. “Hydro” comes from the Greek word for water, and flying is… well, flying. It’s all about water pressure. Think of a cork shooting from a champagne bottle. With a flyboard, you step into wakeboard-style boots that are attached to a platform you operate with a controller. Hoverboarding combines flyboarding and something like surfing on a skateboard to give you an unforgettable Back to the Future sort of thrill. Or strap on a jet pack and give your inner Rocket Man permission to zoom. All three devices are powered by compressed water, and they’re easier to tackle than you might imagine — not to mention loads of fun!



Aquatic adventures also await you under the sea. Dive deep to explore old shipwrecks, join up with schools of multicolored reef fish, or hang out with nurse sharks on a thrilling night dive. Because reefs and waters here are protected, opportunities abound for cozying up to a variety of fanciful creatures that thrive beneath the surface. Many island dive operators conduct PADI certification courses and set you up with gear. Dive Sint Maarten, for example, offers a comprehensive range of services, including PADI courses and tours. Forgoing all that, you can still have an underwater adventure. Sign up for a guided helmet dive and walk below the waves without ever getting your hair wet.



Ancient Polynesians mastered the waves, but could any of them have imagined the many ways watersport enthusiasts would come to use surfboards in St. Maarten/St. Martin? Traditionalists head for prime spots like Mullet Bay and Cupecoy. Then there are the windsurfers and kitesurfers who challenge themselves at Le Galion Beach when the wind is blowing strong. Not quite ready for that? Try e-foiling on a surfboard with an electric propeller or build up your balancing acumen on a stand-up paddleboard. You’ll also find surf schools that will teach you how to hang ten with the coolest of dudes.



If diving isn’t your thing, you may be surprised by how much of the underwater world you can explore from shore with only a mask and fins. The crystal-clear waters surrounding St. Maarten/St. Martin are home to abundant sea life, including turtles, rays, and vibrant corals. Meet up with a multitude of colorful reef fish at Creole Rock, off the shore of Grand Case. Check out the artificial reefs formed by sunken ships and planes, where you may spot lionfish, barracuda, and the ever-inquisitive yellowtail snapper. And don’t overlook the soft corals and swim-through gap at Baie Rouge Beach or the rocky reef break at Simpson Bay.



Speaking of fish, you can catch them, too. Deep-sea charters will take you to prime spots like Tuna Shoals, where anglers reel in big ones like yellowfin and mahi-mahi. Set your sights as well on blue marlin, sailfish, grouper, and wahoo. Tarpon are known to gather in salt ponds and canals. Think of the reel stories you’ll tell the folks back home about the one that didn’t get away.



Each year in March, seasoned sailors from around the world converge on the island to compete in the renowned St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. As you might expect then, boating in all forms reigns supreme in the glass-clear waters that surround the Dutch-French island — and you needn’t be a pro to participate. In Philipsburg, for example, you can help crew an authentic America’s Cup racing yacht at the St. Maarten 12 Metre Regatta. Charter a luxury catamaran and relax as you take in the sights and scenery. Explore the shore in a kayak or spend a day sailing to Saba and other nearby islands.



Boating isn’t the only way to enjoy yourself on the surface. Imagine the fun you’ll have sea-bobbing on a motorized water scooter or zipping around on a Jet Ski. You might even want to strap on a pair of water skis or hug a giant tube as a motorboat pulls you through the water on the ride of your life.



Signing up for a sea tour is a great way to spend the day in and around St. Maarten/St. Martin. Aqua Mania Adventures offers a variety of dive options as well as island-hopping excursions and other day trips. Explore the island’s ecosystem on a kayaking or canoeing excursion. You also may want to consider dining on a catamaran as you take in the scenery on a day cruise to Anguilla.