St. Maarten Vacation Tips: Create Lasting Island Memories

Are you planning a trip to St. Maarten? This beautiful island, located in the Caribbean Sea, offers a range of exciting adventures and experiences to visitors. But with so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan the perfect itinerary.

That’s where we come in! Our expert St. Maarten vacation tips will help you make the most of your trip, with insider advice on when to visit, where to stay, and what to do.

Key Takeaways

  • St. Maarten is known for its beautiful beaches, with over 37 to choose from.
  • Maho Beach is a popular destination for plane spotting, as planes fly directly overhead to land at the nearby airport.
  • The French side of the island offers a unique blend of Caribbean and European culture, with charming villages and delicious cuisine.
  • Water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing are popular activities in St. Maarten.
  • Shopping is also a popular pastime, with duty-free shops and local markets offering a wide range of goods.
A Sint Maarten Travel Guide on a table.

St. Maarten Vacation Tips

St. Maarten offers a wide range of vacation activities, from beach hopping and plane spotting to shopping and water sports. With over 37 beautiful beaches to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to soak up the sun and relax.

Maho Beach is a popular destination for plane spotting, as planes fly directly overhead to land at the nearby airport. The French side of the island offers a unique blend of the Caribbean and European culture, with charming villages and delicious cuisine.

Water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing are popular activities, and shopping is also a must-do, with duty-free shops and local markets offering a wide range of goods. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking to unwind, St. Maarten has it all.

When to Visit St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and interests. Consider the following factors when planning your St. Maarten vacation:

December-April (high season)Dry and sunny weatherLittle to no rainfallGreat time for water activities like snorkeling and divingHigher prices for accommodation and activitiesIncrease in crowds and trafficAdvance booking required for popular attractions
May-November (low season)Cheaper accommodation and activity pricesLess crowded beaches and attractionsWarm weather with occasional rainfallPotential for hurricane season (June-November)Slight decrease in tourism activitiesSome restaurants and attractions may be closed for renovation

Tip: If you opt to travel during the low season, consider purchasing trip insurance in case of unforeseen weather conditions.

Special Events

St. Maarten’s cultural calendar is full of events and festivals that are worth attending. Some of the notable events include:

  • Carnival (April/May)
  • St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (March)
  • St. Maarten/St. Martin Annual Summer Festival (July/August)
  • Restaurant Week (November)

These events add extra excitement to your St. Maarten vacation, but may also increase rates and crowds. Plan accordingly and make reservations in advance.

Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, Philipsburg, Sint-Maarten
Photo by Vinita Babani on Unsplash

Top Beaches in St. Maarten

St. Maarten is home to some of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches in the Caribbean. With crystal-clear waters, fine white sand, and breathtaking views, these beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and a variety of water activities.

Beach NameBeach DescriptionBeach Amenities
Maho BeachMaho Beach is famous for its proximity to the airport, giving beach-goers the thrilling experience of watching planes fly just over their heads. The beach also offers calm waters for swimming and a range of water sports.Restaurants and bars nearby, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.
Orient Bay BeachOrient Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in St. Maarten, with a long stretch of white sand and clear turquoise waters. The beach is home to several water sports rental stands and beachside restaurants.Restaurants, bars, and water sports rentals available, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.
Anse Marcel BeachA secluded and serene beach, Anse Marcel is perfect for those seeking a quiet retreat. The beach is surrounded by lush green hills and features calm waters for swimming and snorkeling.Beachside restaurant, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.
Mullet Bay BeachMullet Bay Beach is a favorite among locals and tourists for its soft sand and tranquil waters. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.Restaurants and beach bars nearby, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.
Great Bay BeachLocated in the heart of Philipsburg, Great Bay Beach is a bustling stretch of white sand lined with shops, restaurants, and beach bars. The beach offers a range of water activities and is perfect for a day of fun.Restaurants, bars, and shops nearby, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent.

These are just a few of the many stunning beaches in St. Maarten. Whether you prefer a lively atmosphere or a secluded retreat, St. Maarten has a beach that will suit your preferences.

Exciting Activities in St. Maarten

St. Maarten offers a wide range of activities that cater to different interests, making it an ideal vacation spot for adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts alike. From water sports to hiking trails, here are some of the top activities to add to your St. Maarten itinerary.

Water Sports

St. Maarten’s crystal-clear waters and balmy weather make it the perfect destination for water sports enthusiasts. Visitors can take advantage of the island’s warm waters and go snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, or paddleboarding. For those looking for a more leisurely experience, take a guided kayak tour through the island’s lagoons or go on a sunset cruise.

Hiking Trails

St. Maarten’s lush greenery and hilly terrain make it an ideal destination for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the island’s natural beauty by hiking trails such as Sentry Hill Trail, Pic du Paradis, and St. Maarten Nature Reserve. Along the way, hikers can catch breathtaking views of the island’s pristine beaches and lush landscapes.

Cultural Experiences

St. Maarten’s rich cultural heritage offers visitors a chance to experience the island’s unique blend of Dutch and French influences. One must-visit spot is the St. Maarten Museum, which provides an immersive experience into the island’s history and culture. Visitors can also explore the island’s historic landmarks such as Fort Amsterdam and St. Maarten Park. If you’re looking for a more interactive cultural experience, consider taking a Creole cooking class or attending one of the island’s many cultural festivals.

Adventure Activities

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed vacation, St. Maarten has plenty of activities to offer. Visitors can take an ATV tour through the island’s rugged terrain or go ziplining through the lush rainforest. For those looking for a more adventurous water activity, try flyboarding, jet skiing, or parasailing.

With so many exciting activities to choose from, St. Maarten is sure to offer an unforgettable vacation experience.

A view of Mullet bay Beach.
Photo by Braden Egli on Unsplash

Exploring St. Maarten’s Cuisine

St. Maarten offers a unique culinary experience that blends Caribbean and European influences. The island’s diverse cultural heritage is reflected in its delicious cuisine, with dishes that feature fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and spices.

When visiting St. Maarten, be sure to try the local specialties such as conch fritters, johnnycakes, and plantain chips. These dishes can be found in many restaurants and street vendors across the island.

Seafood lovers will be in paradise on the island, with options ranging from grilled lobster to seafood gumbo. Do not leave St. Maarten without trying the traditional Caribbean dish of rice and peas, served with stewed chicken or goat.

For those looking for a fine dining experience, the island has plenty of upscale restaurants that offer international cuisine and fusion dishes. Many of these restaurants are located in the popular areas of Simpson Bay and Marigot.

In addition to the restaurants, St. Maarten also has several markets and grocery stores where tourists can shop for locally grown fruits and vegetables, spices, and other ingredients. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and cook your own Caribbean-inspired dishes while on vacation.

Transportation Tips in St. Maarten

Getting around St. Maarten is relatively easy, as the island has a variety of transportation options that cater to different budgets and preferences.

Renting a Car in St. Maarten

Renting a car is a popular choice for visitors who want the freedom to explore the island at their own pace. There are several car rental companies located at the airport and in major tourist areas. It’s important to note that driving is on the right side of the road, and speed limits are in kilometers per hour.

Requirements for renting a car in St. Maarten:
Valid driver’s license from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP)
Minimum age of 21 years (some rental companies may require drivers to be 25 or older)
Credit card for rental deposit and payment

Taxis in St. Maarten

Taxis in St. Maarten are readily available at the airport, hotels, and major attractions. Taxis do not have meters, so it’s important to negotiate the fare before getting in. Tipping is not expected but appreciated.

Public Transportation in St. Maarten

Public transportation in St. Maarten consists of buses and vans, also known as “gua guas”. They operate on specific routes and schedules, making them a convenient and affordable option for getting around. Fares are paid in cash and exact change is recommended.

  • Bus fare: $1-$2 USD
  • Gua gua fare: $1-$3 USD

Biking in St. Maarten

Biking is a great way to explore St. Maarten’s scenic routes and beaches. There are several bike rental companies on the island, and some hotels offer complimentary bikes to guests.

“Traveling on two wheels is a fun and eco-friendly way to see St. Maarten’s beauty.”

Regardless of which transportation option you prefer, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and make reservations if necessary. Traffic can be heavy during peak tourist season, so allow extra time for travel.

A person putting money into a piggy bank.

Money Matters in St. Maarten

Planning ahead for how you’ll handle money during your St. Maarten vacation can save you time and hassle while making the most of your budget. Here are some tips to help you manage your finances:

CurrencyThe official currency of St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean guilder, but the US dollar is widely accepted. It’s a good idea to bring small bills and coins for smaller purchases.
Exchanging MoneyYou can exchange money at banks, exchange offices, or your hotel. Be sure to shop around for the best exchange rate and check for any fees that may be charged.
BudgetingSt. Maarten can be an expensive destination, so it’s important to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Consider using a travel budgeting app or spreadsheet to track expenses.
Payment MethodsCredit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller vendors or in case of any issues with card acceptance. ATMs are also widely available.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your budget and avoid any financial surprises during your St. Maarten vacation.

Safety and Health Tips for St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a safe destination for travelers, but it’s always important to be vigilant and take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your St. Maarten vacation:

Stay Alert in Public Places

As with any destination, it’s important to keep an eye on your surroundings and be aware of your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Pickpocketing can happen anywhere, so it’s best to keep your valuables secure and be mindful of your surroundings.

Use Trusted Transportation

When getting around St. Maarten, it’s best to use reliable transportation, such as registered taxis or rented cars from reputable companies. If you’re using public transportation, it’s a good idea to research the routes and schedules beforehand to avoid any potential safety risks.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

St. Maarten has a sunny and tropical climate, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses when spending time outdoors to avoid sunburn and skin damage.

Stay Hydrated

The warm weather in St. Maarten can cause dehydration, so it’s crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a refillable water bottle and refill it regularly to stay hydrated.

Beware of the Ocean

The ocean waters surrounding St. Maarten can be unpredictable and dangerous. Always swim at designated beaches with lifeguards present, and follow any warning signs or flags indicating unsafe conditions.

Observe Local Customs

Respect the local culture and customs of St. Maarten by dressing appropriately and avoiding any behavior that may be considered disrespectful or offensive. For example, it’s customary to cover up when visiting religious sites.

By following these safety and health tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable St. Maarten vacation.

St Maarten carnival.
Image by ameliaechampion from Pixabay

Local Culture and Etiquette in St. Maarten

St. Maarten has a rich cultural heritage, blending French, Dutch, and Caribbean influences. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience and show respect for the local culture:

Respect the Locals

The people of St. Maarten are known for their warm hospitality, so be sure to show them the respect they deserve. Greet people with a smile, say “hello” or “bonjour,” and try to learn a few basic phrases in Dutch and French.

Dress Appropriately

While St. Maarten is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe, it’s important to remember that it’s still a conservative island. When visiting public places, such as churches or markets, avoid revealing clothing and wear something modest.

Observe Local Customs

St. Maarten has its own unique customs, so make an effort to learn about them and observe them. For example, it’s customary to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home, and to use your right hand when greeting someone or accepting food.

Respect the Environment

St. Maarten’s natural beauty is one of its biggest attractions, and it’s important to help preserve it. Be mindful of litter and pollution, and follow the “leave no trace” principle when visiting beaches and natural areas.

Following these tips will help you to enjoy your time in St. Maarten while showing respect for the local culture and customs.

Accommodation Choices in St. Maarten

St. Maarten offers a diverse range of accommodation options that cater to different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort or a cozy apartment, there is something for everyone.


St. Maarten has several top-rated hotels that offer exceptional services and amenities. Some of the best options include the Belmond La Samanna, a five-star resort located on the island’s west coast, and the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, a luxury property with breathtaking ocean views.

Hotel NameLocationPrice Range per Night
Belmond La SamannaBaie Longue$500 – $1,500
Sonesta Ocean Point ResortMaho Beach$400 – $800

Vacation Rentals

If you prefer more privacy and flexibility, a vacation rental might be a great option. St. Maarten has several vacation rentals, including apartments, villas, and townhouses. Some popular booking platforms for vacation rentals include Airbnb and Vrbo.

All-Inclusive Resorts

All-inclusive resorts are an excellent choice if you want to enjoy a hassle-free vacation. These resorts typically offer everything you need, including meals, drinks, and entertainment. Some of the best all-inclusive resorts in St. Maarten include the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina.

Resort NameLocationPrice Range per Night
Sandals Royal Caribbean ResortMaho Beach$500 – $1,000
Simpson Bay Resort & MarinaSimpson Bay$300 – $600

With so many accommodation options to choose from, it’s essential to book your stay in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Consider your budget, location, and amenities when selecting the perfect place to stay in St. Maarten.

A car trunk filled with luggage.

Packing Essentials for St. Maarten

Packing for a St. Maarten vacation can seem overwhelming, but with a little planning, you can ensure you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Here are some packing essentials to consider:

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing: St. Maarten is known for its warm, tropical weather, so be sure to pack light and breathable clothing to stay comfortable.
  • Swimwear: With numerous pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, you’ll want to pack at least one swimsuit for your St. Maarten vacation.
  • Sun protection: Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a cover-up to protect your skin from the strong Caribbean sun.
  • Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a nuisance in St. Maarten, so be sure to pack insect repellent to avoid uncomfortable bites.
  • Comfortable footwear: Whether you plan on hiking, walking on the beach, or exploring the island, comfortable footwear is a must.
  • Adapter: St. Maarten uses both 110V and 220V electrical outlets, so be sure to bring an adapter to charge your devices.
  • Camera: With stunning views and beautiful landscapes, you’ll want to capture all the memories of your St. Maarten vacation.
  • Travel documents: Don’t forget to bring your passport, airline tickets, and any other important travel documents.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to pack light and leave some space in your suitcase for any souvenirs you may want to bring home from your trip.


If you’re planning a vacation to St. Maarten, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. From beach hopping and plane spotting to shopping and water sports, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the unique blend of the Caribbean and European culture on the French side of the island, with charming villages and delicious cuisine.

With over 37 beaches to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to soak up the sun and relax. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking to unwind, St. Maarten has it all.

A couple at the airport.

FAQs about St. Maarten Vacations

If you’re planning a trip to St. Maarten, you may have some questions about what to expect and how to prepare for your journey. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about St. Maarten vacations.

What language is spoken in St. Maarten?

The official language of St. Maarten is Dutch, but English is widely spoken throughout the island, especially in tourist areas.

What currency is used in St. Maarten?

The official currency of St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG), but US dollars are widely accepted. Many businesses also accept credit cards.

What is the time zone in St. Maarten?

St. Maarten is in the Atlantic Standard Time zone, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. However, St. Maarten does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Do I need a visa to visit St. Maarten?

US citizens do not need a visa to visit St. Maarten for stays up to 90 days. However, you will need a valid passport and a return or onward ticket.

What is the weather like in St. Maarten?

St. Maarten enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures throughout the year. The rainy season runs from September to November, but showers are usually brief. Hurricane season runs from June to November.

Do I need to rent a car in St. Maarten?

It depends on your itinerary. If you plan on exploring the island and visiting more remote areas, renting a car is recommended. However, if you plan to stick to major tourist areas, you may be able to get by without a car.

Is St. Maarten a safe destination?

St. Maarten is generally a safe destination for tourists. However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables and keep a close eye on your belongings in crowded areas.

What should I wear in St. Maarten?

St. Maarten has a relaxed dress code, with casual resort wear being appropriate for most occasions. However, it’s a good idea to bring comfortable walking shoes and lightweight clothing for the warm weather.

What is the voltage in St. Maarten?

The electrical voltage in St. Maarten is 110-120 volts, which is the same as in the United States and Canada. However, some outlets may require a two-pronged adapter.

By having these common questions addressed, you should be better equipped and confident for your St. Maarten vacation. Safe travels!


  • Karin K

    Meet Karin, the passionate author and founder of My love affair with St. Maarten began in 1994 during a memorable trip. The island's allure was so captivating that I decided to make it my permanent home. Since then, I've been committed to sharing the beauty and wonders of St. Maarten through my adventures and insights. Join me on this incredible journey!