Welcome to my first travel guide! I am going to be sharing all of the information I have for you from my stay in St. Martin. Drew and I visited the island from January 20 – 24, and we were truly blown away by its beauty. This was our first time visiting Saint Martin and we are already ready to book another trip back! There was so much more we wanted to do but we were only there for about 4.5 days. We kept saying “next time we visit we’ll do that” about the things we couldn’t fit in. We will definitely be heading back at some point!
A quick history
Saint Martin is divided by the Dutch side (south) and French side (north). The Dutch side is actually spelled Sint Maarten and the French side is Saint Martin. The two sides have different forms of government but there is no real border control, so you can go back and forth freely! We stayed in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and they speak mostly English there. The French side mainly speaks French but majority of people also speak English.
Now on to the good stuff! I am going to share our AirBNB, restaurants, activities and sights to see and car rental. Let’s get into it!
Our AirBNB was truly amazing! It exceeded all of my expectations. Keep in mind that this house can sleep 4 people so it is on the pricier side for two people but it was sooooo worth it! The house is located in Indigo Bay which is an up and coming residential area on the island. Note: there was some construction across the way but it didn’t bother us/was not noisy at all. Most importantly it did not obstruct our amazing view!
Indigo Bay is a gated community and has a security guard 24/7. Safety was not a huge concern for us because the island itself is a pretty safe place, but it was an added bonus that we were in a safe and gated area. Another added bonus, and a random one, was that this house had a washing machine!!! We were able to do a lot of our laundry before we left and there is a drying rack to use outside (pictured below for reference).
There is a private beach in Indigo Bay and there were no more than 6 people on it while we were there. We even had the beach to ourselves a few times! The beach was about a 5 minute walk from the house and there is a walking path you can follow rather than using the road. For some reason I never got a photo of the bedrooms and bathrooms but you can view those on the AirBNB page if you are interested (they were beautiful!)
Here is a list of restaurants that we ate at and I would recommend. We bought food at a nearby grocery store so we made breakfast at our house every morning and ate lunch at the house a couple days too! Such a great idea to grab some groceries, we rolled out of bed and ate our breakfast poolside on the patio while watching the cruise ships and sail boats roll in for the day. A very relaxing way to start to the day!The service at all of these restaurants was great, there were 2-3 servers attending to our tables at every place we ate. We joked all week that our water glasses were never not filled to the brim! (Apologies in advance, I’m the worst and only have a few photos of my meals!!! Everything we had was awesome though!)
Ocean Lounge: This spot we stumbled upon while walking around looking for dinner on our first night. Its right next to the water and has a super cute/trendy vibe. Ocean Lounge had the BEST Mojito that we had during our stay, it was so fresh! I got the Spinach Ricotta Ravioli and it was delicious. Its important to note that they serve bread here and provided two amazing tapenades to add to your dipping oil! (Dutch side)
Roxy Beach: Granted we went here for dinner, this place looked like it would be awesome during the day! Right on the beach this place has live music and beach parties during the day. For dinner we got the house-cut fries, which comes with this amazing house sauce, hand-battered chicken tenders (for Drew) and Margherita pizza to split. Everything was amazing! I didn’t feel so great this night so I skipped out on a drink and got water. Important to note that they also provide bread. (Dutch side)
Indigo Beach Bar and Restaurant: Right on the beach in Indigo Bay this was such a fun spot! We had lunch here after spending the morning on the beach. You can rent chairs on the beach from them as well! Gorgeous views of the water and it has a cute beachy vibe. We decided to go for a frozen drink for lunch and got strawberry daiquiris, Drew also got a margarita which was good! I got the Tune Poke Bowl (hold the tuna, please) which was delicious! It was filled with different fruits and veggies and was perfect for a day at the beach. A huge plus is that Indigo Beach Bar is located right on the beach that was 5 minutes walk from our house, so convenient! (Dutch side)
Sale & Pepe: This was my absolute favorite restaurant. Drew and I live for Italian food so this was the perfect spot for us. Sale & Pepe is located downtown and on a dock that housed a few (insanely big) yacht’s. This place was on the pricier side! I got the Truffle Pasta dish and it was absolutely amazing I ate every single bite (pictured below). Drew got the Chicken Parmesan pasta dish. For drinks, Drew got Cabernet and I got a glass of Prosecco. We also got complimentary Limoncello Shots. (Dutch side)
We ended up with four Limoncello Shots so we had two of the servers take them with us. The servers at this restaurant were so friendly and fun!
Arhawak: Located on the French side, we went here for a pre-dinner snack (is that a thing?) This place had a French Cafe type feel and had delicious crepes and cheap beers! I got a chocolate and banana crepe, a mojito and an espresso shot (now that I’m typing this out, what a random combination, right?!) The crepe was sooooo good! We ended up back at this spot later in the night for a few beers before heading home.
Activities & Sights to see
Seaside Nature Park
This was by far my absolute favorite activity in Sint Maarten. If you ever get the chance to horseback ride in the ocean, DO IT! Of course, make sure that animals are taken care of properly. The horses at Seaside Nature Park have one working week and one “vacation” week where they are able to roam the property, which is 40 acres. There are 60 horses total so they are able to horses rotate between weeks.
Seaside Nature Park was beautiful and right on the water. Drew and I lucked out and got our very own guide, Remy, for our ride. He was awesome, he took us on the most amazing trails, we were basically right on the edge of the cliffs over looking the ocean. The views were absolutely stunning and it was like nothing I have ever done before. I wish I had pictures to share from our ride but we didn’t bring our phones! It was nice to unplug for an hour and really take in this experience together.
After riding through the trails, you end your ride by taking a dip in the ocean with your horse! When I first got on my horse, Pimienta (meaning pepper in Spanish), they warned me that she loved the water and loves to swim underwater. Who would have thought horses loved swimming underwater?! And she did! She went right under water and I got drenched, which was totally fine, I loved it!!! It was so refreshing and gives the horses the chance to cool off and have some fun in the water. 11/10 experience!!!
Side note: the horses were so sweet and were very well trained! All of these photos were captured by the photographer on site. Since Drew and I were the only two people in our group all of our pictures were of us, which was awesome! We got about 60 photos total and they were able to load them right from the memory card to our phones. Click here for their website.
Unfortunately, our snorkeling tour was cancelled due to weather but the pictures we saw online looked amazing! We booked through Trivago. Instead of snorkeling, we were offered to jet ski. It was raining so we were being whipped with rain but it was still fun to ride around and see the island from a different perspective. We tried to make the best of this day, it was our only bad weather day.
We went to Lotiere Farm to hike and it was beautiful! They have hiking trails, ropes courses, zip lines, a pool, and a bar/restaurant. We went late afternoon, around 3pm and decided to hike. The views from the top were stunning (pictured below). There is a specific spot on the trail that hikers sometimes see monkeys. We were told that the monkeys were out earlier in the day so unfortunately we did not see any, but we could hear them from a distance. The hike was about an hour and wasn’t to challenging.
I would highly suggest going here during the day because Lotiere Farm hosts pool parties and it looks like an awesome atmosphere. We wished we had gone for a pool day, next time!
I absolutely loved visiting this old fort. I’m not huge on history but I do love to learn about the history of places I visit! This fort was held by the Dutch as the French came in and defeated them for the land. The Dutch Side is smaller than the French side as the French hold majority of the land. I won’t bore you but it was pretty interesting to learn about! There are signs all around the fort with tid bits of information.
In Saint Martin they drive on the right side of the road, a huge benefit for anyone visiting from the US (or any other country that drives on the right side). We rented a car during our stay and I highly suggest you do the same! Having a car made our trip so much easier and from the looks of it, most tourists rent cars during their stay. I do not know if they have Uber or Lyft, to be honest we didn’t really check because we didn’t have to.
Random tip for traveling around: Waze worked but we could not get Google Maps on our iPhones to work. Make sure you have Waze!
We used Sax Car Rental Sint Maarten + Saint Martin and rented a Nissan Altima. There are a bunch of different car rental companies like Budget and Hertz right near the airport. Sax Car Rental picked us up from the Airport and brought us to their office so we could sign our contract and then we were good to go for the week! This is something you need to plan prior to your trip so look into your options. We had a good experience with Sax Car Rental so I would recommend them.
Along with car rental I should mention that the parking situation in Sint Maarten and Saint Martin is a COMPLETE free for all! People park on the sidewalks, Drew and I were so concerned we would get a ticket for parking where ever we want. We quickly learned that everyone just parks anywhere and everywhere. So, you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket because I’m not sure that anyone really cares, lol!
Experiencing Island Life
Our stay in Saint Martin was truly amazing! I would highly suggest everyone and anyone visit Saint Martin. The island has so much to offer and you are able to roam freely and safely. Obviously, be cautious as it is a foreign country!! But there was never a moment during our stay where we felt even remotely unsafe. Everyone we came in contact with was extremely friendly and we LOVED the ability to be able to explore the island freely with our car.
Thank you Saint Martin for beautiful and fun new experiences, we will be back soon!!!