St. Maarten / St. Martin offers a wide variety of activities. One can choose from an array of watersports activities to include snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, kayaking, laser sailing, parasailing, wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and island hopping, lagoon cruising, deep sea fishing, wave-runner and speed boat safaris. In addition, there is mountain biking, off road touring, hiking, horseback riding, zip lining, sightseeing tours, golf and much more!
The following information will give you an idea of the various activities offered…
Cycling – The island boasts 25 miles of trails perfect for bikers. This sport is becoming more popular on the island. You can choose to bike alone or join other riders in organized excursions. The trails around Pic Paradis (Paradise Peak) are ideal for mountain biking. There are basically three main mountain bike trails on the island, with the most popular one being a maze of single paths called Bellevue offering magnificent views of the lagoon.
Golf – There is one 18-hole championship golf course on the island at Mullet Bay. Designed by architect, Joseph Lee, the course is sculpted around a tranquil lagoon situated between the Simpson Bay Lagoon and Caribbean Sea. The golf course is open from 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM everyday. There is also a putting range, driving range and exclusive pro shop.
Horseback Riding – There are a few stables on the island who offer horseback riding excursions across the countryside of the interior and along the coast. You can even take a “swim” with your horse in the shallow waters of a pristine beach. Riders of all ages and levels are welcome to enjoy the natural environment from a different perspective.
Tennis – Several of the resorts on island have tennis courts that are available for both day and night. Most tennis courts are open to the public. You can choose to play on your own or enjoy a game with the resort tennis pro. In addition, the Belair Community Center, located on the Dutch side of the island, has tennis courts for visitors to use. A fee is charged and advance reservations are required.
Deep Sea Fishing – Deep Sea fishing is a popular activity with full-day and half-day charters available year-round. Marlin, dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Wahoo are the most common game fish in these waters. Charters usually include tackle, bait, food and refreshments. Bareboat charters are also available. Daily fishing charters are available any day, weather permitting.
Diving – Diving offers unique views of the coral reefs and shipwrecks. Water temperatures average a comfortable 70 degrees F (21 C), while visibility ranges up to 100 feet, and often up to 150-200 feet. Coral reefs are teaming with marine life, providing more than 40 dive sites off the coast. Creole Rock and Proselyte are the most famous sites, the former for its easy access, the latter for the incredible beauty of coral and sponge covered walls, of corridors among the coral blocks which encrusted cannons and anchors from an 1801 wreck can be admired. Another common destination is the freighter Teigland, sunk deliberately on Cable Reef in 1993. Other more secluded spots provide the pleasant sensation of new discovery. Enjoy the underwater vista of Sint Maarten by day or by night.
Certified divers can rent tanks and equipment from watersport shops throughout the island. Beginners can take advantage of lessons from experienced professionals.
Kayaking – Kayak tours are the best ways to explore some of the island’s bays and lagoons. Tri-sport offers kayaks for rent and offers tours to let you experience the hidden areas of Simpson Bay Lagoon and coastline.
Kiteboarding – Extreme-sports enthusiasts will enjoy this hybrid of surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and windsurfing.
Motorized and Non-Motorized Watersports – At many beaches, you can rent a variety of watersports items to include snorkel gear, jet skis, wet bikes, water scooters, banana boat rides along with more options. The most popular beaches for rentals include Great Bay, Divi, Pelican, Kimsha, inside the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Mullet Bay and Orient Bay.
Rhino Safari Excursions – Two-time winner of the Prestigious Tour of the Year Award, offers a fun interactive tour where you get to pilot your own watercraft in a guided 2 ½ hour snorkeling excursion.
Sailing – The Island offers plenty of stunning anchorages. Fully equipped marinas welcome visiting boats and visitors can rent everything from canoes to speedboats. You can rent your own sailboat or Hobie Cat and sail the bays and lagoons. For a truly unique adventure during your stay on St. Maarten, enjoy the exhilaration of America’s Cup Yacht Racing. It gives visitors the chance to experience the thrill of America’s Cup racing. Aspiring sailors serve as crew aboard the U.S. Stars and Stripes, which raced in 1987, or the Canadian contenders Canada II, True North, and True North IV, as these high performance boats are put through a race against each other. Previous sailing experience is not necessary, just a sense of adventure.
Snorkeling – Snorkeling the warm coastal waters of the island has always been a great attraction. Beaches that are good for snorkeling are Maho Beach, Mullet Bay, Baie Longue, Baie Rouge, Grand Case, Dawn Beach and Happy Bay. For reef lovers, one will definitely enjoy snorkeling around Pinel Island, located just off the coast of St. Martin. You can take the ferry that runs from French Cul de Sac to Pinel Island. The Ferry begins operations early in the morning and continues during the entire day.
Snorkeling Boat Trips – Captain Alan’s Three Island Snorkeling Adventure is highly recommended. Located at Oyster Pond Marina, Captain Alan offers 4 power-boats, great crews, exotic beaches, nature preserved little paradise islands, great snorkeling and a number of trips to choose from like snorkeling, sightseeing, family fun, party, sunset, relaxing trips or more thrill-seeking action. You can take the Sand Dollar boat departing from Pelican Marina, Simpson Bay for a 3-hour snorkel trip offering coastal sightseeing, calm water, beautiful reefs and a small beach for shell seekers. Great for children, beginners and experts alike. The Golden Eagle located at Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg, a 76’ x 34’ Beam custom designed catamaran, offer a snorkel trip to the deserted island, Tintamarre.
Sunset Sails – For a nice romantic end to the day, there are various options for an evening coastal sail with open bar and hors d’oeuvres…Some even offer music while on board.
Windsurfing – Orient Beach and Coconut Grove, two beaches located on the windward North East coast of the island, situated side by side, but divided by a peninsula are the two best beaches for windsurfing. The best spot for beginners and intermediates is Coconut Grove offering flat water and easy launching. The popular Orient Bay offers challenging windsurfing fun which is better situated to intermediates and advanced windsurfers.
Besides the various beaches and the wonderful watersports activities offered on the island, the following are some great activities for the entire family:
Aqua Mania Adventures – This watersports facility located at Pelican Marina offers some nice activities for the children. The “Children’s Lagoon Cruise” is a 1 ½ hour trip on the protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon during which children can take turns steering the boat. They get to water bomb a small wreck with water balloons and there are blow up animals to spot in the water for the little ones. The company’s “Playstation” is a catamaran converted into a playground platform with swings and slides located off Kimsha Beach in Simpson Bay.
Beaches – The French side offers some great beaches for children where the waters are very calm to include Le Galion Beach which is protected by an offshore reef, Friar’s Bay near Marigot and Petit Plage in Grand Case. Also, Orient Bay offers great sandy playgrounds at La Playa, Bikini Beach & Coco Beach.
Butterfly Farm – The Butterfly Farm features hundreds of rare and exotic butterflies in a tranquil atmosphere – beautifully landscaped quiet garden with waterfall, ponds, Japanese fish and mystical music. The best time to go is early morning to watch the butterflies emerging from their cocoons and taking their first flight. The farm offers informative guided tours and is great fun for the kids.
Coconut Reef Glass Bottom Canoes – Glass bottom kayak tours offers a fantastic way to explore above and below the water without getting wet. A great way to see marine life and go further along the coast than one would if snorkeling. For kids, it is a fantastic way to look at the marine life. The guide offers expert knowledge of the reefs and marine life you encounter along the way. This excursion is located on Kim Sha Beach in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side of the island.
Loterie Farm – Located just off the main road to Pic Paradis, the tallest hill on the island, Loterie Farm is an excellent place to explore and enjoy the hiking. This unique farm once cultivated sugar cane, is now a sanctuary for locals and visitors to enjoy. You can take the hiking trails through the “hidden forest” and enjoy breathtaking views towards the sea, Marigot and the island of Anguilla. There are trails for children as well. The Loterie Farm has the island’s first canopy-style riding, known as “The Fly Zone”. This is an exciting course of zip-lines and is fun for both children and adults. There is another one called “Little Tarzan” for the smaller children.
Seaworld Explorer – If you prefer to observe the underwater world without getting wet, take a ride on this semi submarine. The craft does not submerge, but has a lower observation deck, five feet below the surface. You will enjoy a cruise to Creole Rock off the coast of the village of Grand Case. Explore the beautiful underwater life and coral formations without getting wet! The semi submarine departs from the pier in Grand Case. The total trip time is 1 hour and 15 minutes. This excursion is only available during the winter months (high season).
Sint Maarten Museum – The museum is located in a 100-year-old building on Front Street in Philipsburg. The museum reflects the history and the culture of the island and its people from pre-historic to modern times. There is a museum gift offering a variety of souvenir items. Admission is $1.00 for adults and children enter for free.
St. Maarten Zoological Park – The St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden, located just east of Philipsburg is home to several kinds of animal species, a collection of exotic birds and a variety of beautiful plants from all over the Caribbean. Discover over 80 species of exotic mammals, reptiles and birds, featured in a tropical garden setting. There is a great playground for kids and a souvenir shop.
St. Martin Museum – At the southern end of Marigot, next to Marina Port la Royale, is a museum showing exhibitions of the history and heritage of the French side of the island. Admission is for free.
Swim with the Dolphins – If you want to experience swimming with the dolphins, hop over to Anguilla for the day for this wonderful experience! You could take the ferry over from Marigot. Various packages are offered.
Island Hopping for the Day
You can enjoy a choice of islands during your visit to St. Maarten/St. Martin for the day. Anguilla, Saba & St. Barths are easily accessible by plane, a ferry ride or all day sail aboard a catamaran. The following gives you a brief description of each island and the recommended ways to visit the island for the day. Don’t forget that a Passport or I.D. is required when you are visiting any of the other islands.
Saba – Located 28 miles south of St. Maarten/St. Maarten, Saba is referred to as “The Unspoiled Queen”. Saba is a cone-shaped island which is the peak of a volcanic mountain that rises sharply from the Ocean Floor. It is a beautiful island where scuba divers and nature lovers come to enjoy the tropical beauty.
Anguilla – Quiet and pristine, the island of Anguilla is located 6 miles from the shores of French St. Martin. It is a slender, low lying island of limestone and coral, Anguilla measures 16 miles long and 3 miles wide at its largest curve. Its inland waters and salt ponds are home to a variety of unusual birds, and its outer edges are a beach-lovers dream.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) – A quaint and chic French island is a fashionable haven for jet-setters. This tiny piece of paradise lies 15 miles from St. Maarten/St. Martin. Enjoy the popular beach of St. Jean Bay or spend some time in Gustavia, the capital, where the quaint wooden and stone buildings house fashionable cafes, gourmet restaurants, and an alluring array of specialty shops.
Other Islands – You may also enjoy all day catamaran sails to very small, uninhabited islands to include Prickly Pear, Scilly Cay, Pinel Island, etc.
Ferry rides available
Taking the Ferry gives you enough time to shop, dive, hike, visit various beaches and savor the unique flavors of each destination.
Voyages 1 and 2 (Motorboats) – Voyager 1 and 2 are high-speed, state-of-the-art vessels that offer the ultimate in comfort and stability to St. Barths. Relax on the sun or shade deck, enjoying the complimentary drinks. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, the ferry departs from Marigot harbor and on Wednesday and Sunday it departs from Oyster Pond.
The Edge I & II – The Edge ferry is a wave-piercing catamaran departing from the Pelican Marina in Simpson Bay that transports you to neighboring islands in comfort and style to include St. Barths & Saba.
Rapid Explorer – High Speed Hydro Cruise Ferry to St. Barths offer a luxurious alternative allowing one to travel in style and comfort. Air conditioning, cool towels offered by your hostess, an onboard entertainment system and bar ensure your trip is relaxing. Daily service from Philipsburg to St. Barths – 45 minutes and on Friday and Sunday from Marigot to St. Barths – 60 minutes
Day Sails Available
There are many day sails available to explore the neighboring islands. Aqua Mania Adventures located at Simpson Bay Marina offer day sails to Anguilla or Prickly Pear on the beautiful catamarans like The Tango and Lambada.
Anguilla, Prickly Pear, Orient Bay, Tintamarre, Creole Rock and Long Beach are some of the prime destinations where Eagle Tours will take you. They offer a great choice of all-day tours and private charters. Their vessels include Quality Time, a 51-foot fast sailing catamaran; Too Rhum Punch, their fun 39-foot sailing cat and Seaduction, their 47-foot Leopard for special private small-group charters.
Random Wind, the Sailing Clipper, a 54-foot traditional sailing clipper carries no more than 12-15 passengers, offers a whole day of fun with sailing, swimming, snorkeling, eating, drinking, paddle boarding and swinging into the crystal blue waters from the all-ages Tarzan swing.
Scooby Doo, a 75-foot catamaran carrying no more than 40 passengers at a time offers day sails to Prickly Pear & Shoal Bay, Anguilla.
Most full day sailing trips normally include lunch, complimentary on board and snorkel gear.