St Martin and St. Maarten are popular Caribbean vacation spots with pristine beautiful beaches and crystal clear aqua blue waters that are seasonable year-round. St. Martin and St. Maarten are both actually one island controlled to the north and south by the French and Dutch government. Due to the island being controlled by these two EU nations, it is very safe and the laws are enforced by their respective governments. Although it is physically one island, there are significant differences between the two sides. St. Martin, which composes two-thirds of the north side, has excellent restaurants and beaches while providing a more secluded, peaceful and intimate environment. St. Maarten is more heavily developed with large resorts and is known for its night life with casinos, clubs, and bars. Both sides offer excellent water sports activities such as snorkeling, sailing and windsurfing. The peak season for the island goes from December through April, while in the offseason, hotels can be heavily discounted up to half off.
In St. Martin, besides the exquisite beaches, there are also other interesting places to visit. One such place is the Loterie Farm, which is a 150-acre private nature preserve that was opened to the public in 1999 by an American expat. There are trails that go through the preserve’s native forest which houses its tamarind, gum, mango, and mahogany trees. While hiking these trails, it is possible to see many indigenous species such as monkeys and lizards. There are also lounges and cafes in the area to rest and eat from a vigorous day of hiking.
With regards to beaches in St. Martin, Oriental Bay is considered St. Martin’s most beautiful beach with 2 miles of white sand and an underwater marine reserve. Its popularity also makes it one of the most crowded with hotels and beach clubs occupying the area. Happy Bay is a lesser known beach but is worth visiting with its powdery sand and excellent views of Anguilla. It is surrounded by luxury villas and has an exclusive and private feel.
In St. Maarten, Mullet Beach is a mile-long, powdery white-sand beach located behind a golf course and is widely regarded as the best beach in St. Maarten. The water is very tranquil and it is a popular spot for snorkeling, surfing and diving. Another good beach is Simpson Bay, which is close to the airport but has some of the most exquisite crystal water on the island.
Besides beaches, another popular spot is St. Maarten Park, which is the largest zoo in the Caribbean and features over 80 kinds of indigenous species. It is located at the northern edge of the Great Salt Pond. If you’re in the mood for an excursion, there are sightseeing tours that take you through Philipsburg to view the interesting towns, stunning beaches and local cuisine of the island.
There are plenty of other activities to do in St. Maarten, such as biking through the natural wonders of the island and exploring secret coves. There are also many clubs, restaurants and casinos that provide a myriad of night life options to make sure that your vacation never gets dull. The quality of dining options on the island is reinforced by the fact that St. Maarten is called the “Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean.”