I am taking you with me on six days spent on the beautiful beaches of Saint Martin.🌴🌊☀️ Many tourists dock on a cruise ship in Sint Maarten, but never get to fully indulge in the whole island.
But first…spelling clarifications. The island is split between two territories – French and Dutch. The French spelling is Saint Martin and the Dutch side is spelled Sint Maarten. I was struggling to differentiate the two sides when it came to finding a place to stay, so Google came into play.
Upon arriving in St. Martin I immediately knew it was love at first sight. Request a window seat and you will have the most turquoise blue photos upon arriving on the island. Princess Juliana International Airport is located on Maho Beach. This airport is known for having one of the most amazing, yet dangerous airline runways. Planes literally touch down feet above your head, and the planes take off blasting sand in your face. I experienced this thrill when I was in Thailand, so I decided to sit inside the car and watch tourists take photos and get blown away into the ocean when planes took off. I am sure they are still washing sand out of their crack.
“Landed…. now to try and find my driver to take me to my airbnb located in Philipsburg.”
He is late, which is typical. You will learn that no one in the Caribbean is in a rush to get anywhere. It is called, “Island Time”. So do not expect to be on time anywhere unless you’re catching your plane home, or not…you can miss that too if you want.
The Caribbean’s say they will meet you in twenty minutes, and it turns into an hour. But, that is completely okay because who needs to be in a rush on vacation? Any stressed individual with anxiety (aka me) needs to take a trip to St. Martin, or anywhere in the Caribbean. It is very therapeutic to be hypnotized by the sun rays and ocean waves crashing against the shore.
I had a hard time deciding where to stay. I stayed in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and I truly enjoyed my visit. I rented an entire apartment all to myself overlooking the hills. My host was the most kind person and I would highly recommend staying here if you want to be where action is high in Philipsburg. You are also within a 5 minute walking distance from the beach. The building is very secure with air conditioning (a must), kitchen, balcony, modern, clean, and everything you need for a nice stay. If you are looking for a place to stay check out Airbnb – Serene Panoramic Views and say I recommended you! (:
I found Instagram to be my most powerful tool on this trip. And let me tell you how much work I put in to finding connections in Sint Maarten. I searched Sint Maarten and came across an artistic, bright, and beautiful profile and instantly messaged the account holder, Tracy. Follow her Instagram for cute beach-y inspiration. She turned out to be the most kind and sweetest girl offering to show me around the entire island without me even asking. Her mom, and sister joined along and they took me to places tourists would have never discovered. Tracy took all of my photos with all the right angles and we talked about our dreams. Kudos to her for making me comfortable with my EXTRA-NESS in taking the best photos. It was an amazing day and I could not have been more thankful for her and her family showing me around.
Let’s get back to discussing the island since I distracted you on ways to possibly be kidnapped by a Instagram stranger.
The French and the Dutch side greatly contrast in views, ocean blues, people, and food. Venture around the French side and you will find it more peaceful as goats are roaming around, and horses and cows are grazing in wide open fields. This side is very relaxing. Hotels are little more upscale, but you will find the water to be a little more rocky. The capital of this side is Marigot where you must stop by Sarafina’s Barkery. Five euros for 10 different types of pastries after 5 p.m. MUST. STOP. IN.
As you can tell, the two sides greatly contrast whereas the Dutch side is more alive and vibrant. I found Philipsburg (capital) to be more colorful not only in scenic views, but also in people and the overall Caribbean vibe. Little did I know I booked my trip during Sint Maarten 2017 Carnival. What an experience. This is the type of parade where you see feathers, jewels, and MORE feathers. It was a big street party with Caribbean beats. They count this as an actual holiday where they close stores to party for two days. I was mesmerized by the costumes and overall experience. So, if you’re looking to experience Caribbean culture, then book your vacation around May 1st/2nd (The actual parade are these two days).
Nude beaches? St. Martin has a very relaxed attitude towards beach nudity, except some hotels, which keep an Americanized code of no nude. If you reeeeallly want to visit a nude beach then go to Orient Beach. The Dutch side does not advertise nudity, but it’s not like you’re going to get kicked out if your tata’s are out. Cupecoy Beach is also considered one of their nude beaches as well, and I even saw some nudity on Mullet Beach. Run wild my child!
Most people rent a car and explore the island for a week. Car rentals are not as expensive. It is very easy to navigate from the French to the Dutch side seperating the two sides only by a bridge. All small roads lead to a main road making it difficult to get lost in St. Martin. It is very easy to get around. Busses and taxi’s are always running around in Philipsburg, but I did not see as many on the French side, therefore, if you want to explore the French side then rent a car.
Want to experience one of the most luxurious and posh islands in the Caribbean? Take a 45 minute high speed boat from Sint Maarten to Gustavia, Saint Barthélemy.
St. Barths is where a girl belongs (but first let me make some more moolah). This island is home to the most crystal turquoise water I have ever seen. All you need to bring with you is your swimsuit, sunscreen, passport (because you’re entering French territory), and your camera because this place deserves an Insta-grammy.
Shell Beach is the one beach you can reach by foot after you get off the boat. It is about a 20 minute walk through the town with signs and arrows guiding you there. This beach is entirely made of seashells. 🐚 Yes, your body will have imprints when you get up from tanning, but are the pictures worth it? YES. Absolutely. I am pretty sure I saw Beyonce’s yacht just chilling in front of me.
If you are a seafood lover and love Mahi Mahi, then visit Le Repaire. This restaurant is located right by the dock when you enter St. Barth’s. It was one of the best Mahi’s I have ever had grilled to perfection!
Both Sint Maarten and St. Barths are ideal for solo travelers, families with kids, and couples. I found traveling solo to St. Martin to be very relaxing as sometimes taking time for yourself is all you need.
Also, I would recommend finding someone who can show you around the entire island, whether you meet them through Instagram or sparking a conversation with a local. I always suggest getting out of your accommodation by learning and exploring a new culture. You never know what you will find, or what kind of photoshoot you’re going to have with a stranger. I find it best for me to stay in Airbnb’s versus hotels when traveling solo because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. Airbnb’s can be more affordable as well. Staying at an Airbnb will allow you to adapt to the culture in a way you would miss out if you stayed in an Americanized hotel. Live like the locals!
Sometimes you just need to give yourself a vacation. That is what I needed. We all go through crap in life where you just need to getaway and put yourself back in check. The ocean just does it for me. It offers a pause on reality, and the conclusion that everything is going to be okay. A mental realization to stop overreacting when things are not going your way. I am thankful I have a job that allows me to getaway when I need it. Sint Maarten did the trick and now I am back to real life with the sound of honking taxi drivers, east coast rawwwwr personalities, and bi-polar whether. I think I need another vacation.😏