A Information to Island Hopping Round St. Martin






One of many nice points of interest of a trip within the Caribbean is the prospect to do a little bit of island hopping. After all, so as to take action successfully, you must decide your targets and, importantly, an acceptable 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 greatest wager.

To start with, whereas I’m utilizing the overall time period “St. Martin,” you might be really 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 totally different attraction. All are simply reachable, both for a day journey or an extended go to.

So, let’s soar 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’ll be able to 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 a number of the greatest duty-free buying within the Caribbean and a full of life 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 nicely 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 simple 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 positioned on the “Dutch aspect” because the islanders discuss with it. Most are positioned instantly on white sand seashores in full of life places like Simpson Bay, Cupecoy Seashore and the airport adjoining Maho Seashore, a favorite of the Instagram crowd.

Philipsburg, the capital, is by far the most important, busiest city within the area and is known for its duty-free buying, which has dramatically expanded in recent times because of the multi-million-dollar improvement of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, after all, is that it could get fairly busy when a number of of the large ships are on the town. 

However the bustle of Sint Maarten additionally means that there’s all the time a alternative 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 nicely. If you get proper right 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 journey or brief 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 connoisseur 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 aspect begins to offer technique to a extra laid-back, distinctly Gallic really feel.

St. Martin definitely has its personal attraction. The seashores, although much less quite a few than these of its neighbour, are higher, and usually much less crowded. Orient Bay Seashore 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 ravishing 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 nicely definitely worth the hike.

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

Surprisingly, particularly given its small dimension, St. Martin has constructed a status because the connoisseur capital of the Caribbean. There are wonderful eating places scattered all through the French aspect, in locations like Marigot and Orient Seashore, however by far the capital of the island’s wonderful eating scene is Grand Case.

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

Grand Case can also 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 most important attraction is its spectacular seashores. Picture credit score: Ian Corks

The space from St. Martin to Anguilla is lower than 30km. The principle route between the 2 islands is the 25-minute public ferry journey from Marigot, on the French aspect, to Blowing Level in Anguilla. You too can take one of many shuttles that present speedboat service, just about throughout from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch aspect. Or you possibly can catch a 10-minute flight between the islands, nevertheless it’s hardly definitely worth the effort or value. Nevertheless, you get there, remember to take your passport. Anguilla is a British territory.

If you’re in search of one phrase to explain Anguilla, that phrase is undoubtedly ‘seashores’. This lengthy, flat slim island (the title means ‘eel’) appears to encompass 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. Excellent for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is usually ranked the highest seaside within the Caribbean and among the best on this 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 count on from a Caribbean Island with so many nice seashores, Anguilla is known for its legendary seaside bars. No island, no matter dimension, usually options so many names on printed lists of the Prime Ten Seashore 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 a number of the area’s most spectacular resorts. Right here one can find the 4 Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Seashore Resort and the enduring Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally severely elevated the island’s eating scene in recent times.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is a wide range of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free buying of any variety, or a lot of a alternative of finances lodging. And there isn’t actually a city to discover. However, imagine me, with these seashores, it’s simple to neglect about all that.


island hopping around st. martin - A Guide to Island Hopping Around St. Martin
Saba gives 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 probably the most uncommon, unspoilt, and surprisingly charming islands not solely within the area, however all through all the Caribbean.

Saba will not be for the informal traveler, or these in search of 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 journey. 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 industrial runway on this planet. And don’t count on palm lined white sand seashores. At a compact 13 sq. kilometres, Saba is actually a volcano elevating steeply from the ocean.

However those that do courageous the journey will uncover an nearly mystical panorama of winding roads, quaint crimson and white wood cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth individuals – an embodiment of the previous Caribbean as many think about it. The island is actually 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 cozy fairly than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in whole unfold amongst a handful of small resorts, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Backyard Resort and Juliana’s are probably the most notable resorts on the island, each tucked into the hillside amongst wealthy foliage.

The tempo on Saba is sluggish and other than exploring the tiny quaint villages of The Backside and Windward aspect, 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 full of life capital of Gustavia is residence to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer outlets 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 totally different. St. Barth is nearer to St. Martin and far simpler to get to. Quick, trendy ferries service the island from three totally different places in St. Martin, with the shortest journey taking 45 minutes.  As well as, there are frequent flights (quarter-hour in length) from Princess Juliana and Grand Case airports.

St. Barth is a occurring place, albeit a fairly dear one. At the start, 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 outlets (don’t count on any duty-free bargains) lining its most important avenue, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And in the event you want a break, the beautiful Shell Seashore is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

If Gustavia doesn’t excite you, a 10-minute taxi journey will take you to the island’s different sizzling spot, St-Jean Seashore. This magnificent stretch of gleaming sand is anchored at one finish by the fabled Eden Rock resort and the famend Nikki Seashore restaurant, and on the different by St. Barth’s extremely Instagrammable small airport. The scene at St-Jean Seashore, and different components of the island, by no means actually stops.

Nevertheless, 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 luxurious, hilly terrain. You’ll discover quite a few different enticing, extra secluded, seashores like Grand Saline, Anse du Gouverneur, and Colombier Seashore, in addition to some low key however surprisingly luxurious, resorts.

In brief, St. Barth is usually a blast, particularly in the event you don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to contemplate when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations might be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or airplane from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All might be completed in a day, nevertheless, resulting from its geography, Saba is best served by an in a single day keep in one in all its quaint little resorts or visitor homes. And, after all, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Forex: You’ll be able to freely use US {dollars} in Anguilla, Saba, and Sint Maarten (although the official foreign money within the latter nation is the Antillean Guilder). In St. Martin and St. Barth, nevertheless, Euros are the foreign money of document. You might get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it should possible be frowned upon.

  • Ian Corks

    An award-winning medical/healthcare journalist and life-style author, Ian likes to journey, with the Caribbean being his favorite vacation spot. He has visited over 45 particular person islands up to now (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for quite a few publications and media retailers. Ian is an enthusiastic beginner bartender, most cancers warrior and authorized seaside bar aficionado.

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