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Just 37 square miles in size, the Caribbean island of St. Maarten is only small - but doesn’t mean it isn’t packed full of fun things to do! Technically speaking, St. Maarten is the Dutch part of the dual-sovereignty island, while St. Martin is the French.
Technicalities aside, whether you're staying on the island for a week (or two) of glorious sand, sea and sun, or you've docked in the port as part of your cruise ship itinerary, here's our top 10 things to do while you're in St. Maarten.
1. Visit the superb beaches
With an all-year temperature hovering around the 30℃ mark, the beach is definitely the place to be. As St. Maarten is such a small island, there's always a superb beach only a short walk away. With its spotless white sand and shallow clear waters, what more could a beach lover want? If your idea of fun at the beach is playing in the surf, head towards Guana Bay or to the popular Mullet Bay for some more challenging waters.
2. Take in the local culture
Despite its small size, St. Maarten has an extremely colourful history. Not only has it changed hands many times but it's also experienced several significant natural disasters. Evidence of the colonial days abounds, but you'll find everything you need to know about the island's history in the excellent St. Maarten Museum which is located in Philipsburg.
3. Buy local Caribbean Haitian artworks
If viewing or buying local artworks is high on your list of things to do, pay a visit to the beachfront in Philipsburg where you'll find many local artists selling their work. And for lovers of Star Wars, the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit has items on display from the movie SFX World. Owned by the creator of Yoda, this is a working gallery that won't disappoint.
4. Try your luck at the casinos
Known for its excellent casinos, the Dutch side of the island boasts 14 venues where you can play blackjack, roulette and bingo to your heart's content. If you're visiting on a cruise ship, try the casinos in Philipsburg which cater specifically for daytime punters. If you're looking for more high-class venues, the casinos of Simpson Bay, Cupecoy and Maho stay open into the early hours of the morning, and offer entertainment and snacks while you play.
5. Give your tastebuds a treat
With over 400 restaurants to choose from, there's something to satisfy everyone's tastebuds in St. Maarten. In the past, the French side of the island had the better gastronomic reputation, but today the Dutch side boasts excellent dining too. For upmarket venues head to Simpson Bay and Maho, where you'll find a range of cuisines on offer, with anything from French and Italian, to Arabic and Asian. Or, book a table at The Greenhouse in Philipsburg for the tastiest lobster on the island.
6. Shop till you drop
If you can't resist shopping duty-free, then you'll find plenty to take your fancy along Front Street in Philipsburg. Including everything from jewellery shops to outlets, it's the ideal place to find top quality branded goods, including watches, jewellery, Cuban cigars, electronics and alcoholic drinks. Alternatively, you may want to head to the Dutch capital where you'll be spoilt for choice by the men's and women's fashion outlets. If you prefer to shop in designer boutiques, a visit to the French side of the island is a must.
7. Explore the hills and coastal paths
There are many opportunities to hike throughout the island. Trails have been cut through the hills that run through the centre of the island, and while they are well signposted, guided tours are also available. If you prefer coastal walks, a series of seaside paths link most of the beaches and bays. As an added benefit, on a clear day there are stunning views allowing you to see across the sea to neighbouring islands. To see this, just visit Fort Louis, St. Maarten's largest historical monument which is located just above Marigot, or from Pic Paridis, the island's highest point.
8. Sail the Caribbean Sea
With a reputation as the 'Mega-Yacht Capital of the Caribbean', there's no shortage of glamorous yachts to admire. If this is a little out of your price range, you'll find dinghies and catamarans for hire just off the beach. If you're a skilled sailor, the 12-meter Challenge in Great Bay gives you the opportunity to race on a fleet of yachts from the legendary America's Cup.
9. Try your hand at watersports
Head to Great Bay or Simpson Bay and you'll find watersports galore on offer; whether you're an experienced watersports enthusiast or you want to try your hand at windsurfing, ride around on a jet ski, or water bike, you won’t be disappointed. You'll also have the opportunity to scuba dive in the marine park, as several reputable dive centres offer both day and night dives. For dive novices, short dive certification courses are also available.
10. Play a round of golf
While St. Maarten only has one golf course at Mullet Bay, if you can't survive your holiday without a round, you'll find that it's a well maintained course where you can play a leisurely 18 holes, at a pace befitting of the Caribbean pace of life.
To get to this idyllic destination, charter a plane with ExcuJet today - we have an FBO in St Maarten to help make your Caribbean journey as smooth as possible.