A Information to Island Hopping Round St. Martin

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. After all, so as to take action successfully, it’s a must to choose your targets and, importantly, an applicable 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 some completely distinctive cultural experiences, then island hopping round St. Martin is your greatest guess.

To start with, whereas I’m utilizing the final time period “St. Martin,” you’re 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 principle 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 may 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 among the greatest duty-free purchasing within the Caribbean and a vigorous beachfront. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

Sint Maarten serves because the pure hub for the realm due to its fashionable worldwide airport. Princess Juliana Airport is effectively 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 consumer 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 discuss with it. Most are situated instantly on white sand seashores in vigorous places like Simpson Bay, Cupecoy Seaside and the airport adjoining Maho Seaside, a favorite of the Instagram crowd.

Philipsburg, the capital, is by far the most important, busiest city within the area and is legendary for its duty-free purchasing, which has dramatically expanded in recent times as a result of multi-million-dollar improvement of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, in fact, is that it may possibly get fairly busy when just a few of the massive 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 seaside 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 effectively. Once you get proper all the way down to it, Sint Maarten is a kind 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 trip or quick flight away from the opposite islands we’re specializing in.

St. Martin

Island hopping around St. Martin
The seaside at Grand Case in St. Martin is lined with gourmand eating places and funky bars. Photograph 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 present 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 usually much less crowded. Orient Bay Seaside 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 gorgeous harbour and good small locations to seize a drink, espresso or sandwich. A short (uphill) stroll from the city will take you to the ruins of Fort Louis, inbuilt 1789 to defend the city in opposition to the British, Dutch, and marauding pirates. The spectacular views make it effectively well 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 loosen up. And to eat.

Surprisingly, particularly given its small dimension, St. Martin has constructed a status because the gourmand capital of the Caribbean. There are wonderful eating places scattered all through the French aspect, in locations like Marigot and Orient Seaside, however by far the capital of the island’s positive eating scene is Grand Case.

This small, picturesque beachfront city is dwelling to some wonderful institutions that supply one of the best of French Creole cooking, with an emphasis on seafood. Some standouts embrace Auberge Gourmande, Ocean 82 and Le Pressoir. And if you happen to really feel you want a break from positive eating, you possibly can attempt certainly one of Grand Case’s lolos – vigorous outside eating places specializing in native dishes centred across the barbecue.

Grand Case can be a stunning place for a seaside 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 foremost attraction is its spectacular seashores. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

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

If you’re on the lookout for one phrase to explain Anguilla, that phrase is undoubtedly ‘seashores’. This lengthy, flat slim island (the identify means ‘eel’) appears to encompass little greater than a string of seashores. In truth, there are over 30 of them dotted alongside its 60km of shoreline.

Anguilla seashores are merely idyllic: lengthy stretches of powdery, white sand set in opposition to calm, shallow turquoise seas. Good for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is usually ranked the highest seaside within the Caribbean and the most effective on this planet. However there are various 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 legendary for its legendary seaside bars. No island, no matter dimension, repeatedly options so many names on revealed lists of the High Ten Seaside Bars. It’s actually a seaside 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 dwelling to among the area’s most spectacular resorts. Right here you can see the 4 Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Seaside Resort and the long-lasting Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally critically elevated the island’s eating scene in recent times.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is a wide range of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free purchasing of any variety, or a lot of a selection of finances 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 presents a mystical panorama of lush hills and picturesque villages evoking a Caribbean of the previous. Photograph 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. It is usually some of the uncommon, unspoilt, and surprisingly charming islands not solely within the area, however all through the complete Caribbean.

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

However those that do courageous the journey will uncover an virtually mystical panorama of winding roads, quaint pink and white wood cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth folks – an embodiment of the previous Caribbean as many think about it. The island is basically an eco-paradise, above and under 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 usually quaint and cozy somewhat than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in whole unfold amongst a handful of small motels, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Backyard Resort and Juliana’s are essentially the most notable motels on the island, each tucked into the hillside amongst wealthy foliage.

The tempo on Saba is gradual and aside from 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 explanation 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 dwelling to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer retailers and stylish bars and cafes. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

If Saba is sleepy, St. Barth is buzzing. In truth, 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 places in St. Martin, with the shortest journey taking 45 minutes.  As well as, there are frequent flights (quarter-hour in period) from Princess Juliana and Grand Case airports.

St. Barth is a occurring place, albeit a somewhat expensive one. At the beginning, 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 retailers (don’t count on any duty-free bargains) lining its foremost avenue, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And if you happen to want a break, the beautiful Shell Seaside is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

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

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

Briefly, St. Barth is usually a blast, particularly if you happen to don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to contemplate when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations may be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or airplane from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All may be executed in a day, nonetheless, as a result of its geography, Saba is best served by an in a single day keep in certainly one of its quaint little motels or visitor homes. And, in fact, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Foreign money: You may freely use US {dollars} in Anguilla, Saba, and Sint Maarten (although the official forex within the latter nation is the Antillean Guilder). In St. Martin and St. Barth, nonetheless, Euros are the forex of report. It’s possible you’ll get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it can possible be frowned upon.

  • Ian Corks

    An award-winning medical/healthcare journalist and editor of the Seasoned Traveler Journal, Ian likes to journey, with the Caribbean being his favourite vacation spot. He has visited over 45 particular person islands so far (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for plenty of publications and media retailers.  Ian is an enthusiastic novice bartender, most cancers warrior and licensed seaside bar aficionado.


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