From beachgoing and tropical-forest hiking to European/Creole dining and clubbing, there’s an extraordinary variety of activities in St. Martin.
Wondering how to structure your itinerary, whether based on the French or the Dutch side? We’ve got you covered here at WIMCO.
This guide will break down the top activities and attractions in St. Martin and Sint Maarten, and provide suggestions on the best things to do in SXM for families, couples, and groups of friends.
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From swimming with sea turtles to sipping the finest Caribbean rum, explore some of the best sights and adventures in St. Martin, on the French side below!
Overview: Just a couple of miles off the northeastern coast of Saint Martin, Tintamarre Island (Île Tintamarre) offers some of the best snorkeling and diving sites. That’s partly due to visible sea turtles — mainly the green ones — which forage amid its surrounding seagrass pastures.
Numerous tour operators offer trips out to Tintamarre Island, combining snorkeling and other water activities with lounging on white-sand beaches.
Duration: Half-day to full-day
Perfect For: Families, nature lovers
What Makes it Unique: Sometimes also called “Flat Island,” Tintamarre (from the Spanish for “color of the sea”) is uninhabited. It once supported a small population and even a small airfield, but has since been reclaimed by tropical scrub. It’s part of the St. Martin Nature Reserve, so its terrestrial and marine ecosystems are protected.
Besides the excellent turtle-viewing, you may spot rays in these waters and plenty of birdlife on the island. There’s also a shipwreck close to shore in 50 feet of water — which is a magnet for divers.
The isle itself is lovely, with rust-colored bluffs and a plush beachfront.
Insider Tip: Follow paths from the main landing beach to find a more isolated "wild beach" you'll love.
Overview: A private nature reserve, adventure park, and tropical R&R oasis, Loterie Farm is a must-visit! Its 135 acres occupy the verdant grounds of a former sugar plantation that closed in the mid-1800s. The property — nestled near the foot of Pic Paradis — has been magnificently restored after the ravages of Hurricane Irma.
Here you can go ziplining, kick back in a paradisal pool, hike lovely trails through tropical forest, and dine at the Jungle Room.
Duration: Several hours to a full day
Perfect For: Adventurers, kids
What Makes it Unique: Loterie Farm enfolds you in a tropical paradise deep within St. Martin’s rugged interior. The pool complex is ravishing, with poolside cabanas (and cocktails!) available. Two treetop adventure courses, with rope bridges and ziplines, appeal to thrill-seekers young and old. There’s also an open-air playground: the Jungle Kids Adventure Park.
The hiking network includes a route up to the summit of the island’s high point, 1,391-foot Pic Paradis — one of the main attractions in St. Martin — with amazing panoramas.
Insider Tip: The pool at Loterie Farm regularly hosts DJ parties. If you’re interested, check with the park to find out when the next one is.
Overview: French perfume is readily purchased in Marigot boutiques, but did you know you can actually make your own fragrance on a Saint-Martin getaway? Tijon Parfumerie in Grand Case offers a unique activity in St. Martin.
This well-regarded shop doesn’t just sell its French-Caribbean fragrances but also offers hands-on classes in perfume-making led by expert perfumologists.
Perfumerie © www.tijon.com
Duration: About a half-hour to several hours
Perfect For: Perfume fans, naturally! And just about anyone with a chemistry streak.
What Makes it Unique: The opportunity to concoct your own perfume fragrance is a one-of-a-kind treat. Class instructors will lead you thoroughly through the process, from selecting a base scent to experimenting with variations.
You get to take home your creation and/or have it incorporated into creams, lotions, oils, and other products. Participating in most classes also lands you a Tijon gift bag: quite the SXM souvenir!
Insider Tip: Tijon Parfumerie will save your perfume formula so that you can reorder it in the future.
Overview: There is, of course, no more quintessential Caribbean spirit than rum. At La Part des Anges, set along the gourmet paradise of the Grand Case boulevard, rum aficionados’ dreams really do come true.
This shop is set in the same historic building housing Le Pressoir, among the highest-regarded restaurants in the West Indies. Here you can survey the many styles and flavor dimensions of this history-drenched liquor, with over 100 bottles of exceptional rum from across the region.
Duration: An hour or three
Perfect For: Rum connoisseurs, culinary types, couples
What Makes it Unique: The La Part des Anges “rumtender” presides over tastings, explaining the nuances of the various rums and fielding any questions you might have.
You can also opt for a multi-course, rum-tasting dinner enhanced by dishes from Le Pressoir.
Insider Tip: You’ll have the option of a top-quality cigar to round out your rum tasting here.
Overview: Tucked away on the northwestern coast of Saint Martin, Happy Bay Beach ranks among the island’s finest. It’s also one of the quieter and more laidback, with no road access to its handsome cove strand.
Duration: Several hours to a half-day
Perfect For: Sand, surf, and sunset lovers, plus photographers and couples
What Makes it Unique: Palms and other vegetation offer ample shade along Happy Bay Beach: not always in ready supply on St. Martin beachfronts. While bringing your own beach gear, there’s usually a BBQ vendor on site.
The 10-minute hike from Friar’s Bay to reach the beach means it’s rarely crowded. But, interestingly, this is also the site of a few annual shindigs, most prominently the SXM electronic music festival.
Insider Tip: If you’ve got your boat, or charter one, you can also reach Happy Bay Beach by water.
Top activities in St. Maarten, the more populous Dutch share of the Friendly Island, range from daytrips to neighboring islands to the steepest zipline on the planet.
Overview: They don’t call Saba the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean” for nothing. This small but spectacular volcanic islet rears boldly from the sea south of Saint Martin, looming to the imposing summit of 2,910-foot Mount Scenery. The landscape on Saba is reminiscent of the Hawaiian or Polynesian style.
Encircled by the Saba National Marine Park, the Unspoiled Queen is one of the top scuba destinations in the Caribbean. Arranging a diving daytrip from Sint Maarten is easy, via an hour-and-a-half away ferry ride or a quick 12-minute flight.
Duration: Full day
Perfect For: Divers, photographers, nature enthusiasts
What Makes it Unique: The sheer form of Saba continues underwater, where coral gardens lead to plunging walls. Everything from shallow reef dives to deepwater adventures amid monumental undersea topography await you here.
Multiple top-class dive sites serve up views of Nassau groupers, wrasses, blue tangs, angelfish, parrotfish, garden eels, and more. Reef sharks are regularly sighted; hammerheads and whale sharks are rarer prizes. Hawksbill and green turtles are common, and you might even get a glimpse of a huge manta ray.
Insider Tip: Between January and April, divers at Saba have a chance to hear the songs of humpback whales. An absolute dream-level underwater experience.
Overview: Saint Barthélemy — a.k.a. St. Barts or St. Barths — beckons to the southeast of Saint Martin. This “Jewel of the Caribbean” is easily reached from Sint Maarten by plane or ferry, and makes an enticing day trip destination.
Part of the French West Indies, St. Barts includes stellar beaches, upscale French-Caribbean shopping, and a famously rich culinary scene.
Duration: Full day
Perfect For: Fine dining, shopping, sightseeing, beachgoing
What Makes it Unique: Under 10 square miles, St. Barts packs an incredible amount of attractions and activities into its pocket-size area. From famously up-close plane-watching at St. Jean Beach to sampling French boutiques and fine restaurants in the capital of Gustavia, you’re spoiled for choices of things to do.
Insider Tip: St. Barts is one of the Caribbean's go-to dining destinations. Check out our picks for the island’s top restaurants.
Overview: The southwest of Saint Martin is a watery wonderland, ideal for paddling. Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Lagoon are popular places for kayak excursions, among the best things to do in St. Maarten.
Multiple tour companies offer kayaking trips in and around Simpson Bay, including outings tacking on snorkeling and/or swimming. Such paddle excursions often circle the Pelican Rocks/Keys.
Duration: A couple of hours to a half-day
Perfect For: Nature lovers, watersports enthusiasts
What Makes it Unique: Paddling at Simpson Bay or the Simpson Bay Lagoon serves up scenery ranging from mangroves to megayachts!
The Simpson Bay Lagoon, a.k.a. the “Great Pond,” ranks among the biggest saltwater lagoons in the Caribbean.
Insider Tip: This popular kayaking option is ideal for paddlers of all abilities, including complete newbies.
Overview: Did you know that visiting Sint Maarten can include a ride-along aboard one of the most prestigious racing sailboats in the world?
One option for on-the-water activities in St. Maarten is joining the “crew” for a “race” on an authentic, retired America’s Cup regatta yacht. Several of these elite sailing yachts call the island home.
The entire experience gives you a sense of what it’s like to compete in such a high-level sporting competition.
Duration: ~2.5 hours
Perfect For: Sailing enthusiasts, sportspeople, up-for-anything types
What Makes it Unique: These excursions allow you to be as hands-on/active as you’d like while slicing along on the racing yacht. Work up a sweat as a grinder or winch-operator, or simply kick back and enjoy some refreshments!
And, some celebratory rum punch is generally involved, regardless of who crosses the finish line first.
Insider Tip: You need exactly zero prior sailing experience to join the fun on an America’s Cup sailboat experience in St. Maarten.
Overview: Sint Maarten is home to the steepest zipline on the globe: the Flying Dutchman, operated by Rainforest Adventures on the historic Emilio Wilson Estate. Dropping more than 1,000 feet on a course 3,000 feet long, this zipline sends you racing down from the heights of Sentry Hill.
Among several “eco-parks” operated by Rainforest Adventures in the Neotropics, the St. Maarten property also includes a variety of other attractions — the captivating scenery being probably the most memorable.
Duration: Half-day to full-day
Perfect For: Adventurers, families
What Makes it Unique: The Flying Dutchman’s unparalleled drop alone sets Rainforest Adventures park apart. Other experiences are worth mentioning, from the dazzling Souliga Sky Explorer chairlift to the 657-foot tubing track.
Actually, the Flying Dutchman is only the most exceptional of the Rainforest Adventures ziplines here. You can also cruise a ridgeline on the Sentry Hill Zipline route.
Insider Tip: The Flying Dutchman is more exhilarating than actually scary. However, even if you don’t want to take that high-adrenaline descent, the panoramic views from atop Sentry Hill are worth a ride up.
Saint Martin is a fabulous choice for a Caribbean family getaway! Here are some of the best things to do in St. Martin/St. Maarten with the kiddos.
The Rusty Parrot Pirate Adventure © https://therustyparrot.com
The Rusty Parrot in Philipsburg offers an immersive, utterly fun pirate experience that’ll cheer up both young and old. Its multilingual walk-through presentation on Captain Jack Rackham summons the history and lore of Caribbean buccaneers. There’s a restaurant and gift shop on site as well!
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a museum chock-full of Star Wars memorabilia (and other silver-screen gems) in the Lesser Antilles. But that’s what you get in That Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit, operated on Saint Martin’s Dutch side by a makeup artist who worked on the mini-Jedi master for the George Lucas films. A visit here — which sometimes allows you to nab an autograph from Nick Maley, the “Yoda Guy” himself — definitely brings the Force to St. Maarten.
Spend some quality time with feathered friends at Parotte Ville in Philipsburg. Founded by George Parotte — whose surname might as well have led him directly to this passion — this aviary includes more than 100 birds representing about 25 species. Observe the likes of black-headed caiques, sun conures, and rose-ringed parakeets; all are delightful!
Close to Philipsburg, along the peninsula between Great and Little bays; Fort Amsterdam is a top St. Maarten attraction. Not a whole lot remains of the first Dutch fort in the Caribbean, built in 1631, but the views are spectacular. And you’ve got a good chance of seeing graceful brown pelicans.
Set along Cole Bay in Sint Maarten, Seaside Nature Park is among the Dutch side’s must-see family attractions. This 30-acre property offers horseback riding (including into the sea!) as well as hiking, plus a playground and petting zoo.
You’ve got any number of choices for renting out a boat to cruise the Saint Martin coastline with your sweetheart. From Orient Bay to the Simpson Bay Lagoon, it’s a dream to see St. Martin’s gleaming sands and conical green hills from offshore — together!
Let’s just say that Saint Martin knows how to put on a showstopper sunset spectacle! Experience a gorgeous Caribbean sundown hand-in-hand on a sailing cruise. There are many options for embarking from both sides of the island, many with onboard champagne, music, and other perks.
Make it a date night to remember with a fine French meal — spiced with Caribbean touches — at L’Auberge Gourmande. Set within a traditional Creole House in Grand Case, this famed restaurant serves up classic gourmet cuisine. Its front terrace, bathed in sea breeze, is tailor-made for romantic meals for two.
Bliss out with your main squeeze at the luxurious Sunset Spa, located within the Simpson Bay Resort at Pelican Key. A no-brainer option for a romantic visit is one of the couples massages, with scented baths and complimentary glasses of bubbly.
Definitely best to book your spa treatment for two at least 24 hours in advance, though same-day sessions are sometimes possible.
A stint on Maho Beach in St. Maarten can inject a spark into any couples’ getaway. After all, these famous sands provide front-row seats for watching airliners come in for landings at Princess Juliana Airport. Just watch out for that jet blast!
Staying at a Friendly Island luxury villa with a gaggle of friends? Wondering what to do in St. Martin/St. Maarten with said crew? Well, you’ve got loads of choices for fun and unique things to do and see via group outings under that Antillean sun. Here are just some of them!
Philipsburg-based St. Maarten Safari offers island-wide off-roading tours and rentals absolutely ideal for friend groups. Tool around in a Jeep, an ATV, or a UTV with seating up to five for adventurous sightseeing. You can also tack on other activities to your off-road itinerary, including sport fishing and snorkeling.
Among the foremost outdoor activities on Saint Martin is summiting the island’s apex, the roughly 1,400-foot Pic Paradis on the French side. You and your buddies can tackle this hill via a couple of routes. They include the long, rewarding hike up starting from Loterie Farm, or a shorter walk from the end of Rue du Pic Paradis road.
The views atop Pic Paradis take in much of Saint Martin and extend offshore to Anguilla, Saba, and other nearby islands.
In terms of a Saint Martin sightseeing vessel, it’s hard to beat a luxury catamaran! Full-day group charters aboard these crafts are available on both sides of the island.
Tour Saint Martin’s lovely coastline, or head offshore to destinations such as the Prickly Pear Cays near Anguilla.
Orient Bay Beach, the St. Tropez of the Caribbean, is the largest beach on Saint Martin. And there’s really no better way to see it than via parasailing!
Of course, the activity is all-around thrilling, as are the bird’s-eye views of this gorgeous windward beach and bay.
What better way to unwind with friends than spending a day at one of Saint Martin's many beach clubs? Relax on a lounge chair, go for a swim in the turquoise waters, enjoy delicious food and cocktails, and take in the lively ambiance.
Popular beach clubs include Coco Beach Restaurant, LA CIGALE and Captain Frenchy on the French Side and Karakter Beach Bar, Kalatua Beach Restaurant, Driftwood Boat Bar, Indigo Beach Bar & Restaurant on the Dutch side