Ever hear of St. Maarten before? This unique island in the Caribbean is one that has been gaining popularity for travelers in the past few months. The fact that half of the island is Dutch owned and the other half is French owned still bewilders to me. Luckily, it is a very friendly island open to treating visitors as their own.
If you are looking for a new adventure with thrills you cannot get elsewhere, visit St. Maarten. Here are our four recommended adventures to take on the island:
Photo by Author
If there was ever a beach to watch planes land right over you – oh wait, there is! Maho Beach is set yards away from the airport and the airplanes literally pass over you before they touch down on the runway. The runway is a short one which is why planes come by so closely.
There are two bars set at both ends of the beach. If you do not enjoy the sand or clear waters, grab a seat and order up food at the oceanview tables at Sunset Bar. There is a surf board which lists all the flights arriving daily by the bar. Maho Beach is not only a great spot for its views, but a thriving area to socialize, make new friends, and speak with locals.
The Invisible Border
At St. Maarten, you can experience both French and Dutch culture without Border Patrol. The airport lies on the Dutch side, which is the southern half of the island country. Getting to the French is very easy.
Rent a car at about $40 per day from a car agency near the airport. Cabs are also an option and go at rates of about $20-30 one-way. The best part is that it is an invisible border between the two halves. You do not need a passport to enter and there is no physical border. Just drive right in! A great spot to begin at is Marigot, which has the open street markets on weekdays and a bustling French restaurant scene. Order the creole, escargo, and the gelato!
For an extra adventure – grab the ferry from Marigot to Anguilla for the day.
There are many towns to stroll through in St. Maarten and the ones with mountain access offer secret spots to find. At Geneve Bay, there is a natural pool which many travelers hike to find.
Find the rocky trail that begins at the beach and follow it along the coast. For expert hikers, it can be as short as 20 minutes to reach the pool. If this is your first time searching for it, expect to spend one hour until you arrive. Remember to wear shoes suitable for hiking and to bring water with you. Many locals are open to helping you find it or coming with you on the trail. Personally, I met many students from the medical university on the island that offered to help me find it as they enjoy coming to this secluded spot.
I learned that there are natural pools in Guana Bay and Back Bay also but could not get accurate information on where exactly they are.
If you love the ocean and want to try an ocean sport, opt for a diving adventure to the shipwrecks. There are about ten wrecks total to explore which range from depths of 30 feet underwater to 60 feet. Many of them had broken up into multiple pieces creating more than one wreck at a dive site. As time has passed, they have become new homes for the marine life that lives near them – reef sharks, moray eels, snapper and more!
If you are not one for diving, snorkeling and snuba tours come to these sites as well. The dive shop I went with was Dive Adventures, about 15 minutes from the airport in Simpson Bay.
Tip – take a Dramamine if it is a windy day or you see the seas are choppy. It can happen with the currents and there was a day of seasickness in the books for me!
Have you come to the island of St. Maarten yet?