A Information to Island Hopping Round St. Martin


One of many nice sights of a trip within the Caribbean is the prospect to do a little bit of island hopping. In fact, so as to take action successfully, it’s important to choose your targets and, importantly, an applicable 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 finest wager.

To start with, whereas I’m utilizing the final time period “St. Martin,” you’re really getting two separate nations on one island: the French St. Martin and the Dutch Sint Maarten. And from there you may simply attain three different islands – Anguilla, Saba, and St. Barth – every with its personal vastly totally different enchantment. All are simply reachable, both for a day journey or an extended go to.

So, let’s leap 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 may 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 finest duty-free buying within the Caribbean and a vigorous beachfront. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

Sint Maarten serves because the pure hub for the world due to its trendy worldwide airport. Princess Juliana Airport is properly 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 consumer pleasant, with little or no tradition shock for first timers to the Caribbean.

The bigger resorts, some with casinos, are situated on the “Dutch facet” because the islanders confer with it. Most are situated immediately on white sand seashores in vigorous areas like Simpson Bay, Cupecoy Seaside and the airport adjoining Maho Seaside, a favorite of the Instagram crowd.

Philipsburg, the capital, is by far the most important, busiest city within the area and is legendary for its duty-free buying, which has dramatically expanded lately because of the multi-million-dollar growth of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, in fact, is that it may get fairly busy when a couple of of the large ships are on the town. 

However the bustle of Sint Maarten additionally means that there’s at all times a selection of issues to do. There are many actions, from a soothing 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 very good place for households. There may be additionally an energetic nightlife, which means it may be little bit of a extra adult-oriented playground as properly. If you get proper all the way 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 trip or quick 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 gourmand eating places and funky bars. Photograph 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 facet begins to offer option to a extra laid-back, distinctly Gallic really feel.

St. Martin actually has its personal enchantment. The seashores, although much less quite a few than these of its neighbour, are higher, and usually much less crowded. Orient Bay Seaside is probably 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, an attractive 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 in opposition to the British, Dutch, and marauding pirates. The spectacular views make it properly well worth the hike.

St. Martin has its justifiable share of actions, although admittedly lower than the Dutch facet and of a much less adrenaline-pumping nature. There are some good mountaineering trails and sail/snorkel excursions, however the purpose most individuals come to St. Martin is to chill out. And to eat.

Surprisingly, particularly given its small measurement, St. Martin has constructed a fame because the gourmand capital of the Caribbean. There are glorious eating places scattered all through the French facet, in locations like Marigot and Orient Seaside, however by far the capital of the island’s high-quality eating scene is Grand Case.

This small, picturesque beachfront city is residence to some superb institutions that provide the perfect of French Creole cooking, with an emphasis on seafood. Some standouts embrace Auberge Gourmande, Ocean 82 and Le Pressoir. And if you happen to really feel you want a break from high-quality eating, you may strive one in every of Grand Case’s lolos – vigorous out of doors eating places specializing in native dishes centred across the barbecue.

Grand Case can also be a stunning place for a seaside stroll, the place you may take within the view of our subsequent island-hopping vacation spot, Anguilla.


Anguilla, an island near St. Martin in the Caribbean
There’s little question that Anguilla’s major attraction is its spectacular seashores. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

The gap from St. Martin to Anguilla is lower than 30km. The primary route between the 2 islands is the 25-minute public ferry trip from Marigot, on the French facet, to Blowing Level in Anguilla. You can too take one of many shuttles that present speedboat service, just about throughout from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch facet. Or you may catch a 10-minute flight between the islands, but it surely’s hardly well worth the effort or value. Nevertheless, you get there, make sure 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 identify means ‘eel’) appears to encompass little greater than a string of seashores. In actual fact, there are over 30 of them dotted alongside its 60km of shoreline.

Anguilla seashores are merely idyllic: lengthy stretches of powdery, white sand set in opposition to calm, shallow turquoise seas. Good for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is commonly ranked the highest seaside within the Caribbean and among the best on the earth. 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 anticipate from a Caribbean Island with so many nice seashores, Anguilla is legendary for its legendary seaside bars. No island, no matter measurement, commonly options so many names on revealed lists of the High Ten Seaside 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 you will see the 4 Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Seaside Resort and the long-lasting Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally severely elevated the island’s eating scene lately.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is a wide range of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free buying of any form, or a lot of a selection 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 presents a mystical panorama of lush hills and picturesque villages evoking a Caribbean of the previous. Photograph 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 one of the 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 only island to get to. Most guests arrive by the quick ferry from Sint Maarten, an usually bumpy 90-minute trip. Or you may fly there. The flight takes a mere quarter-hour, however you’re then confronted with touchdown on a tiny airport seemingly carved out of the hillside and that includes the smallest business runway on the earth. And don’t anticipate palm lined white sand seashores. At a compact 13 sq. kilometres, Saba is basically a volcano elevating steeply from the ocean.

However those that do courageous the journey will uncover an virtually mystical panorama of winding roads, quaint pink and white picket cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth folks – an embodiment of the outdated Caribbean as many think about it. The island is basically 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 relatively than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in complete unfold amongst a handful of small accommodations, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Backyard Resort and Juliana’s are probably the most notable accommodations on the island, each tucked into the hillside amongst wealthy foliage.

The tempo on Saba is gradual and other than exploring the tiny quaint villages of The Backside and Windward facet, there isn’t a lot to do besides benefit from the island’s pure magnificence – the rationale 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 vigorous capital of Gustavia is residence to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer outlets and stylish bars and cafes. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

If Saba is sleepy, St. Barth is buzzing. In actual fact, 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 areas 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 relatively expensive one. Before everything, St. Barth is a distinctly French island. However not within the Creole French type 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 anticipate any duty-free bargains) lining its major road, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And if you happen to want a break, the beautiful Shell Seaside is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

If Gustavia doesn’t excite you, a 10-minute taxi trip will take you to the island’s different scorching spot, St-Jean Seaside. This magnificent stretch of gleaming sand is anchored at one finish by the fabled Eden Rock resort and the famend Nikki Seaside restaurant, and on the different by St. Barth’s extremely Instagrammable small airport. The scene at St-Jean Seaside, and different elements 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 lovely little island. It’s excellent for renting a automotive and exploring the plush, hilly terrain. You’ll discover a variety of different engaging, extra secluded, seashores like Grand Saline, Anse du Gouverneur, and Colombier Seaside, in addition to some low key however surprisingly luxurious, accommodations.

Briefly, St. Barth could be a blast, particularly if you happen to don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to contemplate when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations could be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or airplane from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All could be carried out in a day, nevertheless, because of its geography, Saba is healthier served by an in a single day keep in one in every of its quaint little accommodations or visitor homes. And, in fact, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Foreign money: You may freely use US {dollars} in Anguilla, Saba, and Sint Maarten (although the official forex within the latter nation is the Antillean Guilder). In St. Martin and St. Barth, nevertheless, Euros are the forex of document. Chances are you’ll get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it is going to probably 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 thus far (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for a variety of publications and media shops. Ian is an enthusiastic newbie bartender, most cancers warrior and authorized seaside bar aficionado.



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