A travel guide to St. Martin
Nestled in the Eastern Caribbean, right beside St. Barts and Anguilla, is the quiet, yet luxurious, island of St. Martin. The island is divided into a Dutch side (St. Maarten) and a French side (St. Martin). The marriage of Caribbean, French and Dutch cultures makes this island the perfect melting pot. If you're looking for a luxurious, exclusive escape, we highly recommend the French tropical paradise of St. Martin.
Although the island is just a few hundred miles from the U.S. coast, a trip to St. Martin feels like a trip to the South of France. They use the euro and metric systems, and French is the island's native tongue. But don't worry, most places take U.S. dollars, and the locals speak fluent English. The island is one part urban and one part untamed natural beauty, with a bustling city life, lush landscapes, white beaches and turquoise water and amazing caves and wildlife. If you've never been, don't worry, we've picked out the best places to stay, eat and play in this tropical wonderland.
Where to stay
Radisson Blu Resort and Marina
If you want a resort that is away from the hustle and bustle of the city and is serene and tranquil, stay at the Radisson Blu Resort and Marina. This resort is located on the top northeast side of the island nestled in the secluded cove of Anse Marcels National Nature Reserve. The resort is also a working marina with many of the rooms offering a picturesque marina view. Radisson Blu has a working spa (Le Spa), infinity pool (one of the largest in the Caribbean), restaurant (C Le Restaurant) and a breakfast bar. The resort has a private beach with stunning cove views. What makes this particular resort so unique is the fact it was once a working plantation. Rooms start at $177 on the off-season and $670 during prime season.
Voted the number one resort in the country by Trip Advisor, a stay at the stunning Hotel L'Esplanade will not disappoint. Unlike the Radisson, Hotel L'Esplanade is located right near the hustle and bustle of Grand Case, one of St. Martin's most exclusive shopping and dining centers. In addition to beautiful views of Grand Case, the hotel also has sweeping views of the stunning turquoise water and white sandy beaches of St. Martin. A local couple privately owns the hotel, so your stay will feel more like a visit with a family member than a stay at a fancy hotel. Rates start at $245 a night in the off-season and $395 in the prime season.
Photo credit: Edsandra
Where to eat
The Rainbow Cafe
The Rainbow Cafe, located right in downtown Grand Case, is one of the highest rated restaurants in St. Martin on Trip Advisor. Not only does this cafe serve up some deliciously modern takes on French cuisine, but it also offers some of the best beach views of St. Martin. This beachfront cafe is great for a low-key family brunch as well as a romantic sunset dinner. Be sure to grab a bowl of their award-winning fish soup and the incredible sea scallop carpaccio with a citrus sauce. They are also known for their gooey French bruschetta made with fresh chevre and Brie.
Photo credit: PJ Andrews
When you think of a French island, you probably don't think Italian food. However, Spiga has become one of the most popular, well-reviewed restaurants on the island due to their unique, fresh take on Italian food. This local and tourist favorite is located right in downtown Grand Case, just a few steps from the beach. The chef, Ciro Russo, is constantly changing the menu to reflect in-season, fresh produce, seafood and meats. Don't miss the lobster-filled ravioli served with mascarpone and sweet peas or the fall-off-the-bone beef short rib prepared osso buco style with orange gremolata. Finish your meal with a local coffee and incredible caramel tiramisu.
Where to play
St. Martin Butterfly Farm
One of the most popular attractions on the island for both families and couples alike is the St. Martin Butterfly Farm. The farm, which has been in business since 1994, has hundreds of exotic butterflies floating around their encapsulated farm, including endangered species from South Africa, Southeast Asia, China and South America, among others. The farm urges visitors to take a guided tour so they can learn all about the butterflies they see flying around them! If you want the butterflies to land on you, they advise wearing bright colors and cologne. Admission is $12.
Located just 2 miles off the shore of St. Martin lies the flat, stunning island of Tintamarre. The 80-acre isle features a gorgeous beach and several private sandy coves on the southern coast. In addition to beaches, there is a very popular mud bath, which is one of the few nude mud baths in the Caribbean. Tintamarre is just a short boat ride away from St. Martin so book a charter trip for half a day or a full day and enjoy the beaches, baths and dining available.