St. Maarten and St. Martin
Half Dutch and half French, the Caribbean island of St. Maarten/St. Martin has two distinct vibes with one shared attraction: beautiful beaches that offer something for everyone. The island boasts more than three dozen sandy strands, so you will likely never run out of new places to explore during your vacation. Here’s a look at some of the best-known spots:
St. Maarten (Dutch Side)
You can choose your own adventure at Mullet Bay on St. Maarten’s west coast. Catch some waves on a surfboard or boogie board, grab a meal or cocktail at the trendy Kalatua beach restaurant, or find your own quiet stretch of sand for the ultimate in relaxation.
Maho Beach is one of the more unique Caribbean beach experiences: This is where wheels-down jets heading for Princess Juliana International Airport make their final approach right over the sand, providing plenty of exciting moments to post on Instagram.
In St. Maarten’s capital city of Philipsburg, streets lined with historic buildings and local and international shops and boutiques connect to a boardwalk alongside Great Bay Beach. This pristine stretch of white sand boasts calm waters for swimming, a wealth of food and drink options, and even a casino, just moments away from the beach.
St. Martin (French Side)
On the French side of the island, Orient Bay, the so-called St. Tropez of the Caribbean, is well-known for its hedonism-leaning atmosphere, but that’s actually only one component of this sprawling beach. There’s also an abundance of outfitters offering some pretty epic kitesurfing, windsurfing, and parasailing, not to mention delicious food and beverages at nearby restaurants and bars.
It’s a bit of a trek to reach Happy Bay Beach, but once you get there, you’ll find an idyllic spot lined with coconut trees and devoid of crowds (unless you happen to be here during a week in mid-March when the SXM Festival for electronic music takes it over).
Grand Case is a former fishing village that is now known for its bustling French and Caribbean dining scene. Many of the restaurants are set right on Grand Case Beach and offer beach service so you can sample the local cuisine right from your lounge chair. Glass-bottom boat tours, dive excursions, and other water activities set off from a long dock extending from the beach into the Caribbean Sea.