Saint Martin Island is controlled by two countries; there is St Maarten under Dutch leadership and St Martin under French leadership. However, there is no actual border that separates these territories – only signs and monument exist to mark the separation. The fact that residents can go across the border peacefully without restrictions helps to boost tourism in the area.
Just like all the other Caribbean islands, this destination has perfect beaches which are great for relaxing in the sand and swimming. Some of these are nude beaches, so you shouldn’t be shocked to see sunbathers chilling out in their birthday suit. St Maarten island is a popular tourist destination thanks to its festive nightlife, and, of course, beaches. Here is our list of 15 best day trips that you can make from this dynamic and safe island.
This British Caribbean Island lies directly north of Saint Martin at a distance of 12 miles. It’s naturally built from coral and limestone island and is about 16 miles long, located to the east of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Its capital city is The Valley.
Anguilla is located just a speedboat ride away from St Maarten. This territory is a popular upmarket destination for tourists thanks to its magnificent sandy beaches and laid-back atmosphere. It has literally everything that you could ask for in a Caribbean Island; the calm, turquoise waters, spectacular bays, beautiful beaches, palm trees, and gentle breezes.
2. Fort Amsterdam
This historic fort is located near Great Bay and Little Bay, on a peninsula about 2.5 kilometers long. The fort was previously referred to as Fort James, Fort Willem Hendrick, Fort Anne, and Fort George.
Fort Amsterdam was the first fort to be built by the Dutch in 1631. Two years later, the fort was captured by the Spaniards, who occupied the military post for a period of 15 years, until 1648. In that same year, the partition agreement was signed by France and the Dutch Republic. This resulted in the fort exchanging hands between these two countries several times.
After the fort’s capture, the Spaniards decided to enlarge it and strengthen its defenses. They intended to protect the sea route to the Greater Antilles and Puerto Rico with the aim of controlling access to Great Bay.
At the moment, the fort is in ruins but still worth visiting. Here, you will find several rusty cannons from the 19th Century. The fort offers stunning views of the ocean.
3. Tintamarre Island
Ile Tintamarre is also known as “Flat Island.” This small island is located on the Caribbean Sea and covers an area of approximately 80 acres.
Tintamarre Island is located to the east of St Maarten, at a distance of three kilometers. Even though this island has no occupants in the present day, it once had its own king, airline, a 500-mile airstrip, and navy. The last traces of the airstrip were erased by the hurricanes of 1956 and 1960.
Make a trip to this island to take in a breath of fresh air as you learn about its role during WWII. Check the weather conditions before planning your trip to Tintamarre to make sure you can safely reach it.
4. Mullet Bay
Mullet Bay is located on the western coast and features a huge strip of white sand, sea grapes, and palm trees. Its crystalline waters are in excellent condition, making it one of the most frequented beaches by both tourists and locals alike.
This bay never gets crowded. It is the perfect place for beachgoers to lie under the lush majestic palm trees that provide natural shade, as they sip on some cocktails.
Further south, there is a large hill that features rocks and seagrass.
5. Sugar Mill Plantation
Throughout the Caribbean, sugar was the main crop grown on plantations. These plantations were the source of about 80-90% of all the sugar that was consumed in Western Europe.
Slaves from Africa were recruited to provide labor on these plantations. After the abolishment of slavery, laborers came in from China, India, and Java.
The production of sugar at the factory – where rum was also produced – started in 1772 and went on for more than a century.
Remains of the factory include a large chimney made out of limestone and the animal-driven mill from where you can see the grindstones that functioned to crush the cane. At the site, there is a two-story villa that offers panoramic views of the ocean.
6. Pic Paradis
In English, “Pic Paradis” translates to “Paradise Peak.” This peak soars up to a height of 424 meters and offers sweeping views of all the neighboring islands. It is the highest point in a chain of hills on the overseas territory of France located in the Caribbean.
Pic Paradis is the perfect destination for a day trip; it has lush, tropical vegetation that will make nature lovers swoon. The cooler climate here provides a refreshing and striking contrast from St Maarten.
At the foot of Pic Paradise is Loterie Farm. This is a former sugar plantation that was established in 1773. The Loterie Farm is a true tropical gem and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species.
7. Border Obelisk
The St Maarten Island was divided into two on 23rd March 1648 after the Dutch Republic and France signed a treaty of collaboration. The treaty allowed people to move freely between the two territories.
Apart from the different languages used in the varying territories of the island, the other indication of the highly symbolic barrier between St Maarten and St Martin is the border obelisk. This marks more than three centuries of peaceful coexistence by the two nations.
The obelisk was erected at the border in 1948.
Saba is a small Caribbean Island that largely consists of the potentially active volcano, Mt Scenery. There are a number of towers of volcanic rocks in the surrounding waters, created when magma was pushed through the floor of the sea.
This beautiful eco-paradise is often referred to as the “Unspoiled Queen” of the Caribbean and offers the perfect getaway for nature enthusiast on a day trip from St Maarten.
The island covers an area of 13 square kilometers and is part of the Netherlands. Saba’s capital is “The Bottom.”
There are approximately 25,000 tourists who visit Saba annually. You can either get to Saba from St Maarten using ferry services or by taking a flight.
9. Orient Bay Beach
This coastal community lies on the eastern coast of St Martin and the beach is the most popular tourist destination on the island.
Orient Bay was underdeveloped until 1985. The area was severely damaged in the 1995 hurricane, Hurricane Luis. After this catastrophic disaster, the beach was quickly repaired and restored to its original state. Years later, the beach was hit by Hurricane Irma and most of the businesses were wiped out.
The Southern part of the beach is used by naturalists. Orient Beach Bay is still a great place to visit on a day trip to enjoy the fluffy white sand and clear waters.
10. St. Barth
Saint Barthelemy is located approximately 22 miles from St Maarten. The indigenous people call it Ouanalao. St Barth has beautiful white sand beaches that are surrounded by the extensive ocean. The island’s capital city is Gustavia.
This volcanic island covers an area of 25 square kilometers and is surrounded by shallow reefs.
Saint Barthélemy is a popular tourist destination, especially for the wealthy, who are looking for a luxurious getaway.
11. Baie aux Prunes
This long, beautiful tan-sand beach is a great destination on the French side, St. Martin. Baie aux Prunes is located in Las Terres Basses on the southwestern edge of the island.
Sometimes, the ocean waters are choppy and the beach has coral formations offshore. It’s recommended that you be extremely careful when you go swimming.
This beautiful and romantic beach is by no means a quiet and secluded place. It’s the perfect travel destination for families and couples, who come to just lie on the sand or take strolls as they explore the visually appealing rock cliffs that curve out in the sea.
12. Seaside Nature Park
This 30-acre nature park was once a plantation. Right now, the park is full of unspoiled nature and rustic facilities which make you forget all your troubles.
Some of the animals at Seaside include rabbits, ducks, geese, peacocks, cows, turtles, miniature horses, and iguanas.
Visiting the nature park will take you back to the old days, as you enjoy the unique set up of the beach huts and the pet farm.
The park’s initiative is to preserve the environment.
13. Anse Marcel Beach
This beach literally takes you to another world and offers a whole lot of precious moments. Anse Martin is nestled in the most discreet cove in St. Martin, where yachts can anchor in privacy. The beach is accessible by both land and sea.
The white sandy beaches are one of the most beautiful and calm beaches on the island.
The philosophy of Anse Marcel’s design is the creation of an island in the island – a true work of art. Every slight detail weaves so many beautiful little perfect moments of pure happiness. The secluded island is dedicated to the preservation of the environment, its rich flora, its emerald water, and its beaches.
14. Maho Bay Beach
This beach boasts towering coconut palm trees that provide shade on its beautiful beaches. Maho beach has it all.
Maho beach is famous among tourists – especially due to the iconic palm-fringed, white beaches that extend for more than 20 yards.
Its convenience and ease of access make the beach a tourist’s favorite. The beach sits next to the Princess Juliana International Airport; the strategic positioning makes it a great destination for plane spotters, who come here to watch aircraft in their flight path right next to the runway.
15. Hope Estate Archeological Site
This one-hectare plateau is home to the remains of an Arawak village – a circular-shaped village created by the American Indians in 550BC. The Hope Estate Archeological Site has petroglyphs and pottery items too.
The site overlooks the Grand Case Plain and is located 80 meters above sea level
If you have enough time, you can visit the Grand Case Village, which has many traditional huts and authentic wattle houses.