Can you believe it has been almost 2 years since the COVID-19 pandemic? Time sure flies by! Just like you, one of the things I missed the most during quarantine was traveling. Luckily, we were able to escape once during the pandemic and went on a SAFE international trip to the Caribbean! Back in September 2020, in the midst of COVID, we had the opportunity to go to the beautiful island of St. Martin! We decided to go there, mainly because it was one of the few countries where Americans could travel to, but we are so glad we went!
One of the things that makes St. Martin so unique is that the southern part of the island is Dutch (Sint Maarten), and the northern half is French (Saint Martin)! The Dutch capital is Philipsburg, and this is where the cruises dock, where most of the American tourists hangout and where they speak more English. The French capital is Marigot, and this side is mainly where the French tourists stay and live. Therefore, everyone mainly speaks French! The French side also has really good restaurants and some fun beach bars!
When you fly to SMX, you will land in the Dutch side! So, when you book your hotel, make sure you decide ahead of time on what side of the island you want to stay. We highly recommend renting a car, because it is not that easy to get around the island and things are a bit far from each other.
Definitely take a boat tour to explore the island! We took a 6-hour private day tour with Billy Bones Boat Charters and saw some really amazing things!
During the tour we went to ALL around the island and saw all the main spots, including Tintamarre Island, one of the most popular snorkeling sites! Here you can find lots of tropical fish and a nice small reef. You can also hangout on this private virgin beach!
Another fun stop was Little Bay! Here, you will find a sunken helicopter, an old submarine and a few cannons from the 16th century.
Since we went in the middle of COVID, we were not able to take day trips to other islands nearby, but if you can take a day trip to St. Barth’s, Anguilla or Saba go for it!
With our rental car, we had the chance to go visit different beach areas! Since we went during COVID, many things were still closed, but at least we enjoyed all these beaches all to ourselves!
Grand Case: This is where our Airbnb was at, so we hung out in this area a lot! This is the most populous area on the French side. Here you can find a long sandy beach and many great restaurants and beach bars. A MUST if you are looking for good time!
Pic Paradise: This one was a hard one to get to! Definitely need a car, but then you have to walk for a while in order to reach the breathtaking view.
Lotterie Farm: This hotel and serene nature sanctuary sits on 135 acres where you can go on a hike or go zip lining! In addition, it also has a nice pool and lounge areas with a restaurant and bar. Great place to go have an adventurous day!
Fort St. Louis: A little nook of history! In 1789 this fort was built to protect Marigot Bay and the town from invaders. It’s FREE and has spectacular views of French capital of Marigot!
Pinel Island: OMG such a cool little island! To get here, you have to take a “ferry” (more like a boat), but once you get to the island, you will be totally relaxed! Lounging and sipping drinks! It’s famous for their fresh lobster! YOU pick which lobster you want for lunch, and then they cook it just for you! LOVED IT!
NOTE: Go here if you will be staying for a few days, because it’s like an all-day event. You can either camp out on your own or rent some lounging chairs from one of the 2 restaurants in the island. We went to Yellow Beach and we really enjoyed it!
Maho Beach: This famous beach is on the Dutch side and when you Google St. Martin, this is the beach that shows up! Yes, the planes really get that close to the ocean when they land.
Pro Tip: Make sure you research the plane landing times of the day, so you won’t miss this specular experience.
Philipsburg: This is the main town and capital of Sint Maarten. This also where all the cruise ships dock and there are several shops, restaurants and bars in the area to hangout.
Fun Fact: St. Martin is the smallest island in the world divided between two countries, France and the Netherlands. The island is 34 square miles in total size!
Since we went for 10 days, we decided to stay in this AMAZING Airbnb in Grand Case on the French side. It was such a great location because we were literally steps away from the clear blue ocean and walking distance to some delicious restaurants and fun bars!
Lolo: This is the place to try authentic, local St. Martin cuisine in Grand Case!
Rainbow: This was definitely our favorite beach bar! This bar has a bohemian chic atmosphere right at the Grand Case water’s edge. They serve breakfast, lunch, tapas & cocktails!
Ti Case Pizzeria: Great spot for a quick and yummy bite!
Capitan Frenchy’s: This was another beach bar/restaurant, but a bit more chill.
Blue Martini: We really enjoyed this restaurant! We ended up going 2 times in a row and the staff was super friendly.
Barranco: This was our FAVORITE restaurant! Super cute, fancy and delicious place with a great view of the ocean!
Sunset Café: This chic little beach spot is a great place to have a drink and enjoy the beautiful view.
Diftwood Boat Bar: This casual bar on the Dutch side is a GREAT spot to catch the planes landing by Maho Beach and to have a small snack and tropical drink!
In my opinion, I recommend staying on the French side of the island. There are lot more interesting things to do on this side and the restaurants and bars are 100 times better! But no matter where you decide to stay, I guarantee you will have a magical time!