Sunday, October 1, 2023

A Information to Island Hopping Round St. Martin

One of many nice sights of a trip within the Caribbean is the possibility to do a little bit of island hopping. In fact, so as to take action successfully, you must decide 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 a couple completely distinctive cultural experiences, then island hopping round St. Martin is your finest 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 bounce 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 possibly can 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 finest duty-free buying within the Caribbean and a energetic beachfront. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

Sint Maarten serves because the pure hub for the world due to its trendy 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 straightforward 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 facet” because the islanders confer with it. Most are situated immediately on white sand seashores in energetic 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 largest, busiest city within the area and is known for its duty-free buying, which has dramatically expanded lately because of the multi-million-dollar improvement of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, in fact, is that it may well get fairly busy when a couple of 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 calming 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 a superb place for households. There may be additionally an lively nightlife, that means it may be little bit of a extra adult-oriented playground as properly. Whenever 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 experience 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. 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 facet begins to provide strategy 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 probably 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 absolutely recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. There’s a little bit of a busier vibe than the remainder of St. Martin, a stupendous 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 towards the British, Dutch, and marauding pirates. The spectacular views make it properly definitely worth the hike.

St. Martin has its fair proportion of actions, although admittedly lower than the Dutch facet and of a much less adrenaline-pumping nature. There are some good mountain climbing trails and sail/snorkel excursions, however the cause most individuals come to St. Martin is to loosen up. And to eat.

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

This small, picturesque beachfront city is residence to some wonderful institutions that provide the most effective of French Creole cooking, with an emphasis on seafood. Some standouts embody Auberge Gourmande, Ocean 82 and Le Pressoir. And in case you really feel you want a break from effective eating, you possibly can attempt one in all Grand Case’s lolos – energetic outside eating places specializing in native dishes centred across the barbecue.

Grand Case can be a beautiful 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 doubt that Anguilla’s major 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 experience from Marigot, on the French facet, to Blowing Level in Anguilla. You can even take one of many shuttles that present speedboat service, nearly throughout from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch facet. Or you possibly can catch a 10-minute flight between the islands, nevertheless it’s hardly definitely worth the effort or price. Nonetheless, you get there, you should definitely 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 title means ‘eel’) appears to include little greater than a string of seashores. In reality, 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. Good for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is usually ranked the highest seaside within the Caribbean and probably the greatest on the planet. However there are numerous extra that come near difficult for these honours, Meads Bay, Maundys Bay, Sandy Floor, and Rendezvous Bay amongst them.

And, as you’d anticipate from a Caribbean Island with so many nice seashores, Anguilla is known for its legendary seaside bars. No island, no matter dimension, commonly options so many names on printed lists of the Prime 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 residence to among the area’s most spectacular resorts. Right here you will see that the 4 Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Seaside Resort and the long-lasting Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally significantly elevated the island’s eating scene lately.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is quite a lot of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free buying of any form, or a lot of a selection of funds lodging. And there isn’t actually a city to discover. However, consider me, with these seashores, it’s straightforward to neglect 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. 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 one of the vital uncommon, unspoilt, and surprisingly charming islands not solely within the area, however all through the whole Caribbean.

Saba shouldn’t be 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 experience. 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 business runway on the planet. And don’t anticipate 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 purple and white wood cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth individuals – an embodiment of the previous Caribbean as many think about it. The island is basically 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 will likely be rewarded with breathtaking views throughout the Caribbean to St Martin, St Barths, and past.

Lodging and eating are typically quaint and comfy quite than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in complete unfold amongst a handful of small accommodations, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Backyard Resort and Juliana’s are probably the most notable accommodations 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 facet, 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 energetic capital of Gustavia is residence to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer retailers and stylish bars and cafes. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

If Saba is sleepy, St. Barth is buzzing. In reality, the 2 islands couldn’t be extra completely different. St. Barth is nearer to St. Martin and far simpler to get to. Quick, trendy 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 taking place place, albeit a quite expensive one. At first, St. Barth is a distinctly French island. However not within the Creole French model 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 anticipate any duty-free bargains) lining its major road, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And in case you want a break, the stunning Shell Seaside is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

If Gustavia doesn’t excite you, a 10-minute taxi experience will take you to the island’s different scorching 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.

Nonetheless, 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 plush, hilly terrain. You’ll discover a variety of different engaging, extra secluded, seashores like Grand Saline, Anse du Gouverneur, and Colombier Seaside, in addition to some low key however surprisingly luxurious, accommodations.

Briefly, St. Barth could be a blast, particularly in case you don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to think about when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations could be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or airplane from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All could be carried out in a day, nonetheless, on account of its geography, Saba is healthier served by an in a single day keep in one in all its quaint little accommodations or visitor homes. And, in fact, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Forex: You possibly can 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 file. Chances are you’ll get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it’s going to seemingly 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 thus far (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for a variety of publications and media shops. Ian is an enthusiastic beginner bartender, most cancers warrior and authorized seaside bar aficionado.

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