On this page I’m sharing all the top sights and activities on Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Everything you need to see and do while on the Dutch and the French side of this Caribbean island, conveniently listed on one page.
Rent a Car
I recommend that you rent a car for the complete length of your stay on Sint Maarten and Sint Martin. The island is compact, so you’ll be able to explore everything. There are all kinds of nice beaches and restaurants and you don’t want to be stuck in one place but explore them all.
We rented our car at Oceane Car Rental and were very happy with it. They’ll give you a good price and great service. When we had a flat tire, owner Patrick drove all the way from the other side of the island to help us out. Click here for more information about Oceane Car.
One of the top sights and activities on Sint Maarten and Saint Martin is to go snrokling. We brought our own snorkling gear so that we could always have a look at the underwater world when we were at a beach. But most big hotels also have snorkling gear for rent and there are plenty of shops on the island that sell it.
One of the best snorkling spots on Sint Maarten is at Little Bay. Just go in the water at the Divi Bay resort and keep the rock formations to your left. When you’re near the diving platforms you’ll find a helicopter and several canons underwater.
Visit the Ruins
There are two ruins of forts, one at Philipsburg on Sint Maarten and one at Marigold on Saint Martin. Because they date back hundreds of years and some hurricanes have passed by since, there isn’t much left of the structures. But it’s a nice reminder of the history of the island.
Philipsburg is the capital city of the Dutch side Sint Maarten. It has a nice boardwalk that gets crowded when the cruise ships arrive. There are plenty of shops and restaurants. One top tip for Philipsburg is Old Street as you see pictured here. They restored the old buildings in a colorful way, making it a very pleasant street to walk around in.
World’s Steepest Zip line
You can find the world’s steepest zip line on the Dutch side of the island. At Rainforest Adventure park at Rockland Estate on Sint Maarten you can find the steepest zip line in the world. This ‘Flying Dutchman’ zip line departs from a hill top on 2800 feet (over 850 meters high). Don’t worry, it’s more fun than you might think. And there’s much more to do at Rainforest Adventure. There are also other ziplines, a ski lift and a tubing track. The best thing to do is get a combination ticket so you’ve got access to all the rides.
Watch the planes on Maho Beach
It’s not often that you can be so close to a flying plane, but on Maho beach on Sint Maarten it feels like you can almost touch them. Right next to the beach is the airport, and as the landing strip is quite short, the planes fly in quite low. It’s not only a great activity for plane spotting, but a must-do when on Sint Maarten.
Go on a boat tour
There are plenty of nice boat tours that you can book on Sint Maarten. Some will take you to the surrounding islands like Anguilla, and others take you for a trip around the island or to several nice bays. We went on a day tour with Boomerang after we saw them on We Are SXM. The took us to several nice bays for snorkling and they also had sup boards and other floating devices. They had a barbecue on board halfway through and drinks were included for the whole trip.
Visit the nearby islands
As I said, you can also book a boat tour to one of the nearby islands. The best options are Anguilla and Saba.
Trips to nearby island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin are more difficult in times of Corona, as some ferries don’t depart at all and others require a negative Covid test.
You can spot some nice animals on Sint Maarten. There are pelicans and other wonderful birds, (sea) turtles and many lizards. And these beauties were my favorite: Iguanas. They look like relatives to dinosaurs, don’t you think?
Enjoy the rich cuisine
There are great food spots all over Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Most offer a fusion of Caribbean and French food. In general, I’d say there’s something for everyone. Except vegans and vegetarians will have a slightly more difficult time, although it’s getting better.
Visit Loterie Farm
Loterie Farm is a nature reserve located in the center of the French side St Martin. On the grounds you can find a nice hiking trail, zip lines, a beautiful swimming pool and a restaurant. The pool is quite popular, so arrive early to secure a bed.
Visit Red Piano for Live Music
Looking for a nice activity for the evenings on St Maarten? Check out the Red Piano bar for live music. Red Piano is one of the best nightlife venues on SXM and has been awarded multiple times. The best night to go is on Mondays when Church on Monday is performing. But they’ve got live music 7 nights a week.
Go to Pinel Island
Pinel Island, or Îlet de Pinel, is a small island off the North-East coast of Saint Martin. You can reach it by a short ferry ride from Cul-de-Sac. The crossing is 10 Euro per person for a return ticket and the boat departs every hour. Make sure to have the money in cash. On the island you can relax on the beach, or have a drink or lunch at one of the two restaurants.
Parotte Ville is a great attraction for families or for everyone who’s spending a longer time on Sint Maarten. This small bird park houses several species of birds. Included in your entrance ticket is a food holder with bird food so that the birds will come to you. Great for pictures!
Book a beachside Hotel
You really want to be close to the beach if you’re staying on Sint Maarten or Saint Martin. It’s so nice to take a fresh dip in the morning or to cool down in the afternoon after a day of exploring.
We stayed at the Bel Air Beach Hotel and had a room right at the beach!
Click here to read all about the Bel Air Beach Hotel.