Activities on St Martin / St Maarten
From Shopping to Sailing, from Dancing to Dinning, and from Scuba Diving to Snorkeling, there are so many FUN activities on St Martin/St Maarten to keep you and the family busy!
The offshore waters offer a wide and challenging variety of gamefish including marlin, tuna, dolphinfish, barracuda, and kingfish. The Marlin Cup occurs in the month of May and the Saint-Martin Billfish Tournament takes place here every year in the month of June. Boats can be chartered at reasonable rates all year long, although some of the fish are only in season in these waters from December through March. Charters typically include bait, tackle, and some form of refreshment.
Dining & Dancing
St. Martin is perhaps most famous for its restaurants and the elegance of its cuisine. From the most sumptuous of French delicacies to the tangy blends of Creole cooking to more exotic tastes like Chinese and East Indian, the island provides a wide variety of restaurants, bistros, brassieres, and barbecue shacks called lolos that delight even the most sophisticated of gourmets. The St. Martinois take a deserved pride in their cooking, which approaches something of an art form here. For dinner at most of the more fashionable dining spots, reservations are definitely recommended, although usually they are not necessary at lunch time. Many places also provide music for dancing, as do the many nightclubs around the island. Bands play a variety of zouk, calypso, reggae, jazz, and pop.
St. Maarten expresses its culinary soul not by creating a single cuisine, but by giving voice to cooking styles from the far-flung corners of the globe. Diners can select from more than 300 restaurants offering French, Dutch, Caribbean, Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, Creole and more.
One of the great attractions of the island has been the duty-free shopping available on both sides of the island. Luxury items from all over the world, French and Italian clothing fashions, Dutch and Japanese electronics, Indonesian batiks and Chinese embroidery, jewelry, leather, crystal, liquors, and fine porcelain, free of all taxes and customs, are regularly offered at bargain prices. The French side also provides a more leisurely shopping experience since the crowds from the cruise ships tend to be attracted more to the Dutch side.
The one 18-hole golf course on the island is located on the Dutch side of St. Maarten nearby at Mullet Bay. The course is open to all visitors; call ahead to reserve a slot.
For those who want to experience the natural beauty of the island on foot, there are 25 miles of clearly defined footpaths running through the mountains and along the shore, revealing some truly spectacular panoramas.
The Coralita Beach Resort operates a small stable and rents out horses for romantic rides along the beach.
Small boats, like Sunfish and Sailfish, may be rented out at many of the hotels, and larger craft can also be chartered from a number of different operators around the island for longer trips to more isolated spots like the Ilet Pinel. Sailing instruction is also included if desired. For racing enthusiasts, a number of regattas are held here every year usually at the end of March.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Visibility in the waters around the island typically extends for about 100 feet and sometimes can even reach up to 200 feet. The coral reefs offer a wide variety of sea life, and just off the coast of St. Maarten in the Great Bay lies the wreck of an English battleship dating back to 1801. Dive operators may be found at many of the major resorts and hotels as well as at a number of independent shops around the island. Instruction from beginning to advanced is readily available, and certified divers should remember to bring their licenses as well as their diving logs. Equipment may be rented easily, and snorkeling is especially inexpensive.
Tennis & Squash
Tennis remains one of the favorite pastimes in St. Martin, and there are more than 70 courts over the whole island. Many of these are to be found in the hotels, and squash is available at a number of sports clubs and fitness centers. Tennis pros are on hand in several of these places to give instruction for a modest fee. It should be kept in mind that appropriate attire, although not necessarily tennis whites, is required on nearly all of the courts.
Windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing, and jet-skiing are activities that are regularly offered at the more popular beaches and in the inland lagoons. Rental and instruction tend to be fairly inexpensive.