Saint Martin (the proper spelling on the French side is Saint-Martin and on the Dutch side it's Sint Maarten) is an island in the Caribbean about 190 miles east of Puerto Rico. One unique aspect about this destination is that it is divided between two countries- France and the Netherlands. You can pass between the two sides freely and experience an incredible variety of fun, food, shopping and adventure! Five of our six visits were with our extended family members, and the other visit was for our honeymoon. Although we haven't been there since October 2010, I would love to go again someday because it will always hold a special place in my heart!
Here's 'SXM' from the air. As you can see, it's pretty cozy... Only about 54 miles around!
Our 1st visit in January 2006. We look like a couple of kids!
Our most recent visit in October 2010 on our honeymoon.
One aspect of Saint Martin I love is the gorgeous ocean. The sun always seems to glisten perfectly over the bright blue water. I'll admit, I'm not a big swimmer (...or snorkler, surfer, diver, or water-person in general!) but this landscape makes for a gorgeous view while resting on the beach with a good book and a cold Pina Colada! See?
Here's a view of the bright blue waters that I took from the car on our way to Phillipsburg. I swear to you, I did not edit the coloring of this photo one bit. It's almost hard for me to believe too!
Now for our recommendations.... Below is our list, sprinkled with a few additional vacation photos. Such great memories!
La Rosa Too: Like Italian food? If so, you have to eat here. It's on the Dutch side behind Maho Plaza. Unbelievable lasanga and a great selection of wine! And don't even get me started on their homemade bread....
The Pizza Galley: Along with the same Italian-food theme, check out Pizza Galley if you want a casual lunch or dinner. They have the tinnest and crispiest pizza crusts. Yum!
Sunset Beach Bar: This is the bar located on the beach directly across from the airport runway. And I mean directly. As in, watch out for sandblast! This is a fun place to visit at night though once all of the airport-action has subsided.
Cheri's Cafe: If you're looking for something lively and silly, check out Cheri's in Maho Plaza. Good burgers and fries, and shall we say, interesting entertainment (i.e. Caribbean male waiters dressed as dancing & singing women).
Orient Beach: Looking to do some parasailing, jet-skiing and other water-related rental activities? This is the place to do it! It's on the French side. Just to let you know, clothing is optional so you may want to bring blindfolds for your kids, ha!
Phillipsburg: Shopping in Phillipsburg is the best! There's just about everything you could want to purchase there. Jewelry (go see Neil at Grand Jewelers), purses and accessories, cosmetics + fragrances, home decor, specialty products, electronics, cigars, etc. etc. Note: The cruise ships dock there often so don't schedule your afternoon too tightly!
L'Escargot: Great place to have lunch in Phillipsburg as you take a break from shopping. Right on the beach. Here I am there with my cousin (center) and sister (right).
Karakter: This is in Simpson Bay. It's a bus that was cleverly converted into the most charming beach bar I've ever been too. Get an order of calamari and a Margarita. Perfection.
The Boat House: This is one place we go to every time we visit SXM. I get the scallops every. single. time. They're too good to pass up! Also in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side.
Saint Maarten Zoo: For a good laugh, go see the monkeys at the zoo! We have been there multiple times and they're always filled with the same sass & pizazz. Offer them a peanut and they throw the shell at you. They don't have the best manners but they are seriously funny.
There are lots of other animals to check out there if you're visiting with kids. The only thing to know in advance is that you can get shockingly close, so watch the little ones carefully!
Marigot: This is the place to shop on the French side if you like handmade items. The open air market is the best! I believe it's open during the afternoon only.
Loterie Farm: Want to zip-line? That is where to do it!
Pineapple Petes: My husband loves the ribs at Pineapple Petes! It's a fun atmosphere with live music; again on the Dutch side.
Toopers: This place is on the same main road as Pineapple Petes and the Boathouse, and it's got a great selection of food. Their house rum is yummy! If you go, would you please bring home a bottle for me? :)