Located on the Southern half of the Caribbean island Saint Martin, St. Maarten is actually a constituent country of the Netherlands. Originally discovered by none other than Christopher Columbus, the island was developed by the French and Dutch, leading to the influences still there today.
Nestled between the Caribbean and the Atlantic, this island features stunning views, amazing beaches, relaxation and multiple cultures. There are plenty of wonderful things to do in St. Maarten, and this island paradise truly offers shore excursions for families of all types.
Here are five things to do in St. Maarten on a cruise:
St. Maarten is a water-lover’s paradise, and in fact, water sports are the number-one tourism activity on the island. Water temperatures average 77°F to 84°F year-round. Available water sports include diving and snorkeling, surfing, jet-skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding and kite surfing. There are 45 listed diving sites on the island, including the cannon and anchors of HMS Proselyte, a Navy frigate wrecked in 1801. Most beaches on the island feature water sports facilities, or you can book plenty of different shore excursions to make sure you’re all set before you get there.
White-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and…airplanes? While St. Maarten is known for some of the world’s most beautiful beaches (it actually has 37 different beaches), it’s also pretty famous for one beach in particular, Airport Beach. The real name of the beach is Maho Beach, and it’s on the Dutch side of the island; the area has some great local bars and restaurants too. Be careful on this beach, though, because the planes do fly in so low, it’s possible to be blown in the water from the jet blast!
Boating and Sailing
Because the island is surrounded by water, boating is a huge industry for the local economy. The island has a reputation as a premiere sailing destination. The island is home to several regattas throughout the year if you want to see some amazing boats in action. You also can rent a boat from one of the many local marinas to try your hand at sailing or simply enjoy a chartered afternoon on the water.
Hiking and Riding
Whether you want to do all the work or have a local horse do it for you, the island features great trails with breathtaking views. The island has a few stables where you can take guided riding tours of the island that usually end with a horseback ride in the Caribbean. Prefer to hoof it on your own? The island has 17 walking trails if you want to venture out on your own or you can book a guided coastal hiking shore excursion to make sure you get the most from your hike.
Yes, that’s right. St. Maarten is a duty-free port, the only destination in the French West Indies that is. On the French side of this island, expect to find luxury and fashion boutiques. On the Dutch side, check out the electronics and jewelry offerings. In addition, locals offer handmade gifts and jewelry.
St. Maarten Tips
- Make sure you head down to Airport Beach. Seeing jumbo airliners like 747 airplanes go over your head within mere feet is something not to miss!
- Free wifi is available at the Sunset Grille at Airport Beach
- The island is a shopper’s paradise, so make sure to check out some of the island offerings, a lot are available at your cruise pier.