Sunday, December 3, 2023

A Information to Island Hopping Round St. Martin

One of many nice points of interest of a trip within the Caribbean is the prospect to do a little bit of island hopping. In fact, so as to take action successfully, you must choose your targets and, importantly, an acceptable leaping off spot. St. Thomas as a place to begin for the Virgin Island and St. Vincent for exploring the Grenadines spring to thoughts, however if you wish to do some island hoping that exposes you to a couple completely distinctive cultural experiences, then island hopping round St. Martin is your greatest guess.

To start with, whereas I’m utilizing the overall time period “St. Martin,” you might be truly getting two separate nations on one island: the French St. Martin and the Dutch Sint Maarten. And from there you possibly can simply attain three different islands – Anguilla, Saba, and St. Barth – every with its personal vastly completely different enchantment. All are simply reachable, both for a day journey or an extended go to.

So, let’s leap in and discover the primary spots to go island hopping round St. Martin.

See additionally: Island Hopping within the Caribbean

The place to go island hopping round St. Martin

You’ll be able to both base your self at St. Martin or begin off on the island and hop round.

Sint Maarten

Island hopping around St. Martin, starting at Sint Martin
Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten, is a bustling cruise port with a few of the greatest duty-free purchasing within the Caribbean and a vigorous beachfront. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

Sint Maarten serves because the pure hub for the world due to its fashionable worldwide airport. Princess Juliana Airport is properly served by most US and Canadian airways, with common flights all year long. Its Dutch/French connection additionally ensures frequent service from Europe, primarily Amsterdam and Paris. So, it’s simple to get to and is extraordinarily person pleasant, with little or no tradition shock for first timers to the Caribbean.

The bigger resorts, some with casinos, are situated on the “Dutch aspect” because the islanders consult with it. Most are situated straight on white sand seashores in vigorous areas like Simpson Bay, Cupecoy Seashore and the airport adjoining Maho Seashore, a favorite of the Instagram crowd.

Philipsburg, the capital, is by far the largest, busiest city within the area and is known for its duty-free purchasing, which has dramatically expanded lately because of the multi-million-dollar growth of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, in fact, is that it may get fairly busy when just a few of the large ships are on the town. 

However the bustle of Sint Maarten additionally means that there’s all the time a selection of issues to do. There are many actions, from a soothing seashore barbecue to serving to crew a former America’s Cup 12 metre yacht in a race across the island. This selection makes Sint Maarten place for households. There’s additionally an energetic nightlife, which means it may be little bit of a extra adult-oriented playground as properly. If you get proper all the way down to it, Sint Maarten is a type of uncommon locations that may actually lay declare to being, “enjoyable for all ages.

And, maybe most significantly, Sint Maarten is both a drive, a ferry journey or quick flight away from the opposite islands we’re specializing in.

St. Martin

Island hopping around St. Martin
The seashore at Grand Case in St. Martin is lined with connoisseur eating places and funky bars. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

Drive throughout the unmanned border (no passport required) and it doesn’t take lengthy to note the distinction. The panorama will get a bit greener and hillier, the event noticeably much less and the bustle of the Dutch aspect begins to provide technique to a extra laid-back, distinctly Gallic really feel.

St. Martin actually has its personal enchantment. The seashores, although much less quite a few than these of its neighbour, are higher, and customarily much less crowded. Orient Bay Seashore is maybe essentially the most spectacular, with Anse Marcel and the secluded and peaceable Baie Rouge additionally worthy of point out. 

The small capital of Marigot is charming, although not totally recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. There’s a little bit of a busier vibe than the remainder of St. Martin, a ravishing harbour and good small locations to seize a drink, espresso or sandwich. A quick (uphill) stroll from the city will take you to the ruins of Fort Louis, inbuilt 1789 to defend the city towards the British, Dutch, and marauding pirates. The spectacular views make it properly definitely worth the hike.

St. Martin has its justifiable share of actions, although admittedly lower than the Dutch aspect and of a much less adrenaline-pumping nature. There are some good mountaineering trails and sail/snorkel excursions, however the purpose most individuals come to St. Martin is to chill out. And to eat.

Surprisingly, particularly given its small dimension, St. Martin has constructed a fame because the connoisseur capital of the Caribbean. There are glorious eating places scattered all through the French aspect, in locations like Marigot and Orient Seashore, however by far the capital of the island’s high-quality eating scene is Grand Case.

This small, picturesque beachfront city is residence to some superb institutions that provide the very best of French Creole cooking, with an emphasis on seafood. Some standouts embrace Auberge Gourmande, Ocean 82 and Le Pressoir. And should you really feel you want a break from high-quality eating, you possibly can strive one among Grand Case’s lolos – vigorous out of doors eating places specializing in native dishes centred across the barbecue.

Grand Case can be a stunning place for a seashore stroll, the place you possibly can take within the view of our subsequent island-hopping vacation spot, Anguilla.


Anguilla, an island near St. Martin in the Caribbean
There’s little question that Anguilla’s predominant attraction is its spectacular seashores. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

The space from St. Martin to Anguilla is lower than 30km. The primary route between the 2 islands is the 25-minute public ferry journey from Marigot, on the French aspect, to Blowing Level in Anguilla. You can too take one of many shuttles that present speedboat service, nearly throughout from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch aspect. Or you possibly can catch a 10-minute flight between the islands, nevertheless it’s hardly definitely worth the effort or value. Nonetheless, you get there, be sure you take your passport. Anguilla is a British territory.

In case you are in search of one phrase to explain Anguilla, that phrase is undoubtedly ‘seashores’. This lengthy, flat slender island (the title means ‘eel’) appears to include little greater than a string of seashores. The truth is, there are over 30 of them dotted alongside its 60km of shoreline.

Anguilla seashores are merely idyllic: lengthy stretches of powdery, white sand set towards calm, shallow turquoise seas. Excellent for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is commonly ranked the highest seashore within the Caribbean and probably the greatest on the planet. However there are lots of extra that come near difficult for these honours, Meads Bay, Maundys Bay, Sandy Floor, and Rendezvous Bay amongst them.

And, as you’d count on from a Caribbean Island with so many nice seashores, Anguilla is known for its legendary seashore bars. No island, no matter dimension, commonly options so many names on printed lists of the Prime Ten Seashore Bars. It’s actually a seashore bar-hopper’s paradise, with locations like Gwen’s Reggae Grill (Shoal Bay) and Elvis’ (Sandy Floor), in addition to the Sunshine Shack and Dune Protect (Rendezvous Bay).

The islands seashores are additionally residence to a few of the area’s most spectacular resorts. Right here one can find the 4 Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Seashore Resort and the enduring Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally severely elevated the island’s eating scene lately.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is a wide range of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free purchasing of any sort, or a lot of a selection of funds lodging. And there isn’t actually a city to discover. However, imagine me, with these seashores, it’s simple to overlook about all that.


island hopping around st. martin - A Guide to Island Hopping Around St. Martin
Saba affords a mystical panorama of lush hills and picturesque villages evoking a Caribbean of the previous. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

At a distance of 50km from St. Martin, the island of Saba is the furthest flung of our island-hopping targets. Additionally it is some of the uncommon, unspoilt, and surprisingly charming islands not solely within the area, however all through all the Caribbean.

Saba isn’t for the informal traveler, or these in search of the stereotypical island paradise. To start with, it’s not precisely the only island to get to. Most guests arrive by the quick ferry from Sint Maarten, an usually bumpy 90-minute journey. Or you possibly can fly there. The flight takes a mere quarter-hour, however you might be then confronted with touchdown on a tiny airport seemingly carved out of the hillside and that includes the smallest industrial runway on the planet. And don’t count on palm lined white sand seashores. At a compact 13 sq. kilometres, Saba is actually a volcano elevating steeply from the ocean.

However those that do courageous the journey will uncover an virtually mystical panorama of winding roads, quaint crimson and white wood cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth individuals – an embodiment of the outdated Caribbean as many think about it. The island is actually an eco-paradise, above and beneath the waterline, with difficult rain forest hikes and world-renowned dive websites. Those that handle the hike up the aptly named Mt. Surroundings might be rewarded with breathtaking views throughout the Caribbean to St Martin, St Barths, and past.

Lodging and eating are typically quaint and cozy quite than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in complete unfold amongst a handful of small inns, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Backyard Resort and Juliana’s are essentially the most notable inns on the island, each tucked into the hillside amongst wealthy foliage.

The tempo on Saba is gradual and other than exploring the tiny quaint villages of The Backside and Windward aspect, there isn’t a lot to do besides benefit from the island’s pure magnificence – the rationale Saba proudly promotes itself because the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean”.

St. Barth

island hopping around st. martin - A Guide to Island Hopping Around St. Martin
St. Barth’s vigorous capital of Gustavia is residence to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer outlets and stylish bars and cafes. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

If Saba is sleepy, St. Barth is buzzing. The truth is, the 2 islands couldn’t be extra completely different. St. Barth is nearer to St. Martin and far simpler to get to. Quick, fashionable ferries service the island from three completely different areas in St. Martin, with the shortest journey taking 45 minutes.  As well as, there are frequent flights (quarter-hour in length) from Princess Juliana and Grand Case airports.

St. Barth is a taking place place, albeit a quite dear one. At the start, St. Barth is a distinctly French island. However not within the Creole French fashion of Martinique or Guadeloupe. St. Barth is nearer to the French Riviera transplanted within the Caribbean.

The capital of Gustavia is famous for the multi-million-dollar yachts within the harbour and the stylish eating places and high-end designer outlets (don’t count on any duty-free bargains) lining its predominant road, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And should you want a break, the stunning Shell Seashore is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

If Gustavia doesn’t excite you, a 10-minute taxi journey will take you to the island’s different scorching spot, St-Jean Seashore. This magnificent stretch of gleaming sand is anchored at one finish by the fabled Eden Rock resort and the famend Nikki Seashore restaurant, and on the different by St. Barth’s extremely Instagrammable small airport. The scene at St-Jean Seashore, and different elements of the island, by no means actually stops.

Nonetheless, when you get past the glitz and glamour, you’ll discover that St. Barth is a remarkably lovely little island. It’s good for renting a automotive and exploring the plush, hilly terrain. You’ll discover a variety of different enticing, extra secluded, seashores like Grand Saline, Anse du Gouverneur, and Colombier Seashore, in addition to some low key however surprisingly luxurious, inns.

In brief, St. Barth is usually a blast, particularly should you don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to think about when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations will be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or aircraft from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All will be accomplished in a day, nevertheless, on account of its geography, Saba is best served by an in a single day keep in one among its quaint little inns or visitor homes. And, in fact, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Forex: You’ll be able to freely use US {dollars} in Anguilla, Saba, and Sint Maarten (although the official foreign money within the latter nation is the Antillean Guilder). In St. Martin and St. Barth, nevertheless, Euros are the foreign money of file. You might get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it is going to doubtless be frowned upon.

  • Ian Corks

    An award-winning medical/healthcare journalist and way of life author, Ian likes to journey, with the Caribbean being his favorite vacation spot. He has visited over 45 particular person islands so far (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for a variety of publications and media retailers. Ian is an enthusiastic newbie bartender, most cancers warrior and licensed seashore bar aficionado.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles