St Maarten / St Martin
The little island with the dual personality really does have it all - beautiful beaches, water sports, fine dining, duty-free shopping, casino gambling, and discos. The smallest island in the world shared by two nations, St. Maarten/St. Martin is Dutch on one side, French on the other. If you like your sun and fun spiced with distinctive culture, sports and activities, and fine dining, then look no further.
The island's bi-national status means that on one trip you can combine the excellent cuisine, street side cafes and authentic French atmosphere of St. Martin with the casino gambling and nonstop action of Dutch St. Maarten. Passports aren't required for crossing, so go back and forth as you please. Have a preference? TNT Vacations has selected hotels and resorts on both sides.
You'll find a pleasing range among St. Maarten/St. Martin's 37 beaches. Some beachgoers like the intimate coves tucked in among sea cliffs while others head for long arcs of white sand. You can pick your activity level, too, from action-packed sports beaches to peaceful, nearly empty stretches. One noticeable cultural difference: on the French side, topless prevails.
As befits an outpost of France, eating is taken seriously. The many French visitors wouldn't have it any other way. You'll encounter some high prices, and dinner reservations are a must in the high season. For a quick and economical alternative, try" lolos," beach-side grill shacks that work magic with barbecue and seafood.
The steady trade winds of St. Maarten/St. Martin make it a mecca for sailors and windsurfers. In fact, whatever your watersport preference, you'll probably find it. Under the waves, the scuba diving and snorkeling are fantastic. The Dutch side offers waterskiing and jet skiing. On the French side, try Pinel Island for snorkeling, jet skiing and kayaking. If you'd rather just go along for the ride, consider a sailing excursion.
What to Wear
Summer casual is fine most places, although shorts are not recommended for restaurant dining, particularly on the French side.
Places to stay
- L'Habitation de Lonvilliers
- Hotel Beach Plaza
- Hotel Mont Vernon
- Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino
- Alamanda Resort
- Divi Little Bay Beach Resort
- Esmeralda Resort
- La Plantation
- Oyster Bay Beach Resort
- Grand Case Beach Club
- Great Bay Beach Hotel and Casino
- Le Flamboyant Hotel & Resort
- Summit Resort Hotel