Saint-Martin: what to do, what to see…

Saint-Martin is currently being rebuilt. The “Friendly Island” suffered the full brunt of Hurricane Irma on the night of September 5, 2017. The island was left devastated by the storm’s unprecedented power but is starting to get back on its feet and doing all it can to be ready for visitors in 2019. For more details, please visit the Saint-Martin Tourist Information website or social media pages (links at end of the article).

As you probably know, Saint-Martin has a French side and a Dutch side. This small island of just 86 km² (33 mi²) boasts 37 white sandy beaches and 300 restaurants, making it the fine dining capital of the Caribbean. Saint-Martin is also home to people of 110 different nationalities, manifest in its melting-pot culture. Ready for some amazing encounters?

Visits you cannot miss in Saint-Martin

• The trail of the Froussards which connects the cove Marcel to Cul de Sac
Between Anse Marcel and the beach of Grandes Cayes, via the deserted beach of Petites Cayes, we travel in two and a half hours ,4.5 kilometers of the trail of the Froussards, to the last unspoiled forest of the island.

• Fort Louis
Fort Louis was built in 1789 under the leadership of Jean Sebastien de Durat, then governor of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy, for the King of France. Its primary purpose was to defend the warehouses of the port of Marigot, where the crops were stored (salt, coffee, cane sugar, rum), often attacked by English looters.

• The butterfly farm
In a tropical setting, this 900-square-meter sphere is home to hundreds of butterfly specimens from around the globe. Nature lovers and those curious should not miss this place, located on the Route du Galion.

• The village of Grand Case
The capital of the gastronomy of the island, the village of Grand Case has preserved all its authenticity, notably in the habitat. Many restaurants are located in the typical small traditional huts and in the last gaulettes houses, still present on the island.

• Farm Lottery located at the foot of Paradise Peak
At the foot of Pic Paradis, which stands at 424 meters, is the Loterie Farm, a former sugar refinery built in 1773 which ceased all activity in 1855. It is a true tropical jewel where plant and animal species are listed and carefully protected.

• The Spring Candy
Located south-west of Marigot, the Spring Sugar Mill, now in ruins, takes its name from a spring nearby. Sugar production was launched in 1772 by traders from Guadeloupe. For a century it produced a large quantity of sugar and rum.

• The islet of Pinel
This islet, included in the nature reserve Saint-Martin, is a high place of tourism. Unfortunately this corner of paradise is often invaded. It becomes deserted again at 16:30 every day, after the departure of the last shuttle ... The circulation of the jet-skis and fishing are prohibited here.

• The Plum Berry
Located between the tip of the Canonnier and the bird cliff, Baie aux Plums is little visited because little is known of it. Its magnificent wild beach covers two facets, depending on the weather: calm sea, mask, fins and snorkel are essential and in case of swell, surfers are thrilled....

• Marigot
The main town of the French part owes its name to the many swamps that were there. With the sugar cane, Marigot knew a rapid rise during the 18th century and became the capital of the French part. A nice walk from the Fort Louis Marina to the cemetery, passing by the windward market.

• The eastern bay
The "Caribbean St. Tropez" is slowly recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma. The longest beach of the island and its turquoise water is ideal for lazing around or practicing many water sports. There is a cheerful atmosphere, both trendy and very friendly, which delights both families and lovers of wild parties.

Essential activities in Saint-Martin

• Watch the fish in the many coral reefs
Coral reefs protect the coast from the swell and serve as a larder, refuge and nursery for thousands of species. Scientific monitoring of the seabed has been set up in the Saint Martin Nature Reserve since 2007.

• Lunch feet in the sand at Red Bay
It is the color of its pink sand that the Baie Rouge owes its name. Its lively and pleasant beach is one of the most beautiful in Saint-Martin. It is popular because it is possible to have lunch in the sand, in one of the small beach restaurants.

• Hiking at the peak of Paradise Peak
Access to the summit of Pic Paradis 424 meters, the highest point of the island, offers a magnificent panoramic view of the whole of St. Martin and the neighboring islands. By crossing it on foot, there is a lush tropical flora. This is the starting point for many hiking trails.

• Window shopping in the colorful streets of Marigot
In Marigot, between two sessions at the beach or at the end of the day, come to walk around the marina to admire the yachts at the quay, and wander through the streets of the small town center to window shop, before nap or dinner.

• Live the carnival life of Saint-Martin at the beginning of the year
In February / March each year, the carnival of Saint-Martin is a very festive moment where the inhabitants go out disguised, masked and made up, and find themselves singing and dancing in the streets, to folk music in a parade . On the Dutch side, the carnival takes place in April.

• Marvel at the heart of the 5 ecosystems preserved between coral reefs and dry forest:
The Saint Martin Nature Reserve preserves its 5 main ecosystems: reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, ponds and dry coastal forest. More than a thousand plant and animal species have been identified to date and inventories are continuing ...

• Enjoy traditional barbecued dishes in a lolo
The lolos of Saint-Martin are the small traditional restaurants very popular where one cooks on makeshift barbecues installed in the open air. This name comes from the lot, the sales unit that has always been used in these stalls.

• Go in search of Lovers Beach, the smallest beach on the island
It's hard to find Lovers Beach accessible only by the sea and nestled in the rocky coast of Pointe Arago. It is the smallest beach in Saint-Martin, it cannot accommodate more than two people at a time! Hence its name...

• Discover the mangrove in a kayak with a transparent bottom
From Galion Beach, a 2-hour kayak tour will allow you to explore the mangrove forests of St. Martin. This is the best way to discover the diverse ecosystem of the region with various plant and animal species, such as iguanas, egrets and herons...

• Windsurfing in Nettle Bay
The island of St. Martin offers ideal weather conditions throughout the year to discover or improve the various water sports: surfing, stand up, paddle, kite surfing, and windsurfing. Make it a memorable experience!

WHAT TO EAT

• Grilled spiny lobsters
• Johnny Cakes
• Oxtail Stew
• Locri
• Red snapper
• King mackerel
• Lambi
• Seagrape
• Guava berry
• Buccaneer chicken

WHAT TO BRING BACK

• Perfume from Tijon
• Spices
• Colombo spice mix
• Banana leaf baskets
• Check fabric
• Flavoured rums
• Luxury products that don’t break the bank

Getting to Saint Martin 

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