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The Best of St. Maarten: Beaches, Beverages and Bites, Plus More to Discover

Here are some of the best places to visit in St. Maarten for an unforgettable Caribbean getaway

The Vacationeer
Breathtaking aerial view of St. Maarten at sunset, Caribbean.

St. Maarten (pronounced Sint Maarten) comprises roughly the lower 40 percent of the island of Saint Martin. It's a constituent country of the Netherlands, located in the "Dutch Caribbean" found at the north end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. And it's a beautiful place for a vacation — especially when you're daydreaming about an oceanfront escape.

Idyllic Caribbean scene, boats tied along the shoreline, colorful buildings and palm tree-lined beach, Sint Maarten, Caribbean.   

Whether you just want to unwind or get wound up with exhilarating activities — or both — St. Maarten has plenty for everyone. There are ideal beaches for sunbathing in a tropical paradise and others for heart-pumping water sports.

Head out over the sparkling turquoise waters with a chartered boat ride or plunge beneath its surface for sublime snorkeling or scuba diving.             

Along with gorgeous white-sand beaches, the capital city of Philipsburg offers urban excitement and lots of options for dining, drinking, shopping, entertainment, arts and culture and other ways to fill your vacation days.

Check out some of the best things to do in St. Maarten to plan your next trip, according to other travelers.

The Best Beaches in St. Maarten

When you visit the Caribbean, you're likely beach-bound. So here are the top choices based on travel style.

Best for Beach Activities: Maho Beach

Choose the sandy shoreline at St. Maarten's famed Maho Beach when you're in the mood for a bustling beach. This stretch of shore is where to go for swimming, snorkeling, Jet-skiing, imbibing at beachfront bars and other fun.

Stunning image, large commerical plane flying lowly over Maho Beach, St. Maarten, Caribbean.    

And this beach is right at the end of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway, so beachgoers get the thrill of full-size planes passing shockingly close overhead just seconds before touchdown.

Best Beach to Chill Out: Mullet Bay Beach

For a low-key, relaxing beach experience, stake your spot in the sand at the palm tree-lined Mullet Bay Beach. It tends to be less crowded, and it caters to those leisurely lounging with a book or a piña colada.

Mullet Bay is also a prime location for surfing. Plus, it borders the island's only 18-hole golf course if you're planning to get in a round of golf during your stay.

Best Romantic Beach: Cupecoy Beach

If you're looking for a calm, quiet beach to take in a spectacular sunset and take a romantic stroll with your partner, look no further than the trio of small coves making up Cupecoy Beach. Delineated by stunning seaside cliffs, these coves offer serenity and beautiful vistas.

Point of view image, view peaceful beach scene, white sands and sailbaot on turquiose waters through tropical greenery, Sint Maarten, Caribbean.    

One thing to know before you go, though — especially if you have kids in tow: This is a clothing-optional beach (as are several beaches on the island).  

The Best Attractions in St. Maarten

St. Maarten has some of the best things to do and plenty of special attractions, no matter your travel style.

Best Attraction for Thrill Seekers: Soualiga Destinations Boat Tours

Hop aboard a six-hour speedboat tour filled with the island's highlights for a day. Don't forget your bathing suit, because you'll have plenty of opportunities to snorkel, swim and sunbathe. When you're not busy discovering what's below the water's surface, your captain offers fun and engaging insights about the area while you sip on complimentary beverages. Discover why this tour is a visitor favorite.

Best Cultural Attraction: Sint Maarten National Heritage Museum

Beautiful aerial image of beach umbrellas peppering white sands of a Sint Maarten beach, turquiose waters crashing ashore, Caribbean.    

Sint Maarten is an environmentally vibrant, culturally diverse, historically fascinating island nation, where native and colonial life melded in unique ways to shape the region. And the Sint Maarten National Heritage Museum is the place to learn all about it.

Don't miss this great opportunity to explore your destination's rich but varied past. Check out the reviews to learn why visitors say the museum is “an excellent place to learn about the island,” “a must-see,” “well worth a visit” and more.

Best Attraction for Kids: Pirate Experience at The Rusty Parrot

This family-friendly, immersive museum is an excellent way for visitors of all ages to learn about the real-life pirates of the Caribbean. After a 40-minute tour of the exhibits, head up to the top deck for breathtaking 360-degree views, more fun for the whole group and even a full bar. Advance ticket purchase is required, so get yours online at The Rusty Parrot website. Read the reviews to discover why locals and visitors give The Rusty Parrot five out of five.

The Best Restaurants in St. Maarten         

Best Fine Dining Restaurant: Bistrot Caraibes         

Bistrot Caraibes is a TripAdvisor Traveler’ Choice “Best of the Best” seal recipient, known for its high delicious and beautifully plated food and ambiance. Enjoy French cuisine, seafood and healthy options for a romantic dinner or a delicious family-friendly meal, complete with highchairs, and a touch of relaxed sophistication.

Beautifully plated grilled lobsters.    

Best Waterfront Dining: Chesterfields Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

For breakfast, lunch or dinner with Caribbean flare and spectacular views of the ocean and marina — and within walking distance of Sint Maarten's famous Great Bay Beach boardwalk — eat at Chesterfields Waterfront Restaurant & Bar, a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice seal recipient.

This nautical-themed restaurant's lunch and dinner menu emphasize local fresh seafood, but there's a good variety of dishes to please any palate. 

Best Restaurant for Local Flavor: The Original Fat Boy BBQ Jimmy's

Exploring  culture through its cuisine is arguably one of the most memorable parts of traveling. Experience authentic regional fare at an institution frequented by locals at The Original Fat Boy BBQ Jimmy's. Try any  menu items made with Johnny cakes, the classic Caribbean cornmeal flatbread, stewed oxtails, curry goat or other native Sint Maarten dishes.  Check out why visitors and locals alike give this local gem five out of five reviews.

The Best Places to Try Regional Craft Cocktails     

If you partake in adult beverages, don't miss these landmark St. Maarten establishments.

Tropical craft cocktail.   

Best Place to Try Guavaberry Liqueur: Sunset Cafe

Guavaberry liqueur is the national liqueur of Sint Maarten, made from locally produced rum and the island's indigenous cane sugar and guava berries (which aren't the same as guavas). Kick back with a delicious, refreshing guavaberry colada at Sunset Cafe, one of the Caribbean's most famous bars, located at Maho Beach.

But first, discover why this waterside restaurant and bar received a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice seal.

Best Place to Try Local Rum: Topper's Rhum Distillery

Rum is the liquor of choice across the Caribbean, and Sint Maarten — where it's spelled "rhum" — is no exception. Visit Topper's Rhum Distillery for a fun, informative facility tour followed by tastings of their handcrafted local rums. Sip an exciting lineup of flavors, including intriguing options like their Banana Vanilla Cinnamon Rhum and White Chocolate Raspberry Rhum. Explore why TripAdvisor ranks this engaging tour number one out of the top three things to do in Cole Bay. 

Read “10 Summer Vacation Must-Haves to Pack on Your Next Getaway” before you plan your next sun-filled vacation.

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Vacationeer

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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