48 Hours in St. Martin

Wide view of St Maarten

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

The Caribbean island of St. Martin is a multicultural island that takes its tourism very seriously. With both French and Dutch vibes, St. Martin offers everything from luxurious all-inclusive resorts to private chartered boats. After the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017, the island took time to recover. Still, it's since shown its resilience with resorts, restaurants, and attractions reopening bigger and better than ever before.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Plane landing at Maho Bay in St Maarten

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

10 a.m.: Once you've touched down on St. Maarten, you'll want to take in the sun, sand, and sights immediately, but first make a beeline to your home for the next couple of days, Sonesta Ocean Point, to drop your bags. This adults-only resort takes all-inclusive to the next level with its "limitless" moto. Amenities range from a complimentary mini-bar in your suite to surfboard happy hours. If you're traveling with a family, the adjacent Sonesta Maho Beach Resort gives you the same excellent access to the beach, amenities, and restaurants.

11 a.m.: Grab a bite to eat at Sonesta's Ocean Terrace Restaurant. This buffet-style restaurant is located on the water, giving you a great view of the famous Maho Bay. Tourists flock from all over the island to watch the planes land at the nearby airport. You can walk down the steps to the beach if you want to try to get your own photo from this unique angle or plane watch from one of the many vantage points around the resort including Ocean Terrace and Palms Grill restaurants, the Edge pool, or your balcony. 

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Gondola ride up the mountain at Rainforest Adventures

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

1 p.m.: For a real adrenaline rush, or to take in a great view of the island, head to Rainforest Adventures. This eco-adventure park works to preserve and sustain the natural ecosystem while providing a thrilling experience for visitors. Experience the thrill of the schooner ride, where you slide down the mountain on an innertube or work your way up through the incline zip lines that give you incredible views of the island. You can even walk away with bragging rights that you took on the steepest zipline in the world, the Flying Dutchman. If you're not an adrenaline junkie, you can also enjoy the Sky Explorer, a relaxing gondola ride up to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of St Maarten and even have a drink at their mountain top bar.

3 p.m.: Head to Phillipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten, the island's Dutch side, and explore this bustling beach town. Beach bars litter the boardwalk where you can take a dip and continue to bar hop—no shoes doesn't mean "no service" here. For lunch, enjoy quick bites at Lazy Lizard's Beach Bar or take your time at the more upscale Ocean Lounge in the Holland House Beach Hotel. Front Street and Old Street are filled with duty-free shops where you can find everything from jewelry to alcohol. Make sure to leave some time for a stop at the Guavaberry Emporium for a tasting of locally made rum with guava berries, a recipe that's been produced on the island for centuries.

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

View of Azul restaurant at Sonesta Ocean Point

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

7 p.m.: For dinner, head back to Sonesta Ocean Point to enjoy the spectacular sunset views at Azul. This cliff-side restaurant hovers over the water and offers a fantastic view of the sunset as well as a delectable menu that changes daily. If you prefer to continue exploring the island, then Bamboo, a high-end sushi restaurant in the Shops at Puerta del Sol, and Avantika, a neighboring Thai restaurant, are great options.

10 p.m.: Try your luck at one of the many casinos on the island. Not only is there a casino in the Sonesta Maho Bay lobby, but just across the street is Casino Royale, the largest casino on the island at 21,000 square feet. Even if gambling isn’t your thing, Casino Royale offers a weekly schedule of shows and parties at their Casino Royal Theater, including acrobatic circus shows and Latin pop dance nights. Other nightlife options include the Red Piano, a sultry piano bar that has great live music and pool tables, and Lotus Nightclub for the top spot for dancing. This nightclub hosts internationally renowned DJs every week and keeps the party going until 4 a.m.

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Pinel Island paradise
zinchik / Getty Images

9 a.m.: No matter what time you wake up or go to bed, you can take advantage of Ocean Point’s complimentary 24-hour room service. Recover from last night’s shenanigans enjoy a fresh pot of coffee, a basket of pastries, and freshly cooked eggs all delivered to your door, or if you woke up ready to take on the day, head out into town and have breakfast at Top Carrot, a healthy breakfast bistro that features several vegetarian-friendly options.

11 a.m.: Use this morning to venture off the island. Frequent ferries and charter companies making cruising across the water to explore other islands incredibly easy. You can book diving and snorkeling tours as well as full-day trips to St. Barths or Anguilla. A recommended favorite is a smooth five-minute ferry ride (from the French side) to Pinel Island. Despite its proximity to St. Martin, this tiny island doesn’t experience the crowds that other nearby islands do, and the waters of the main beach are also much calmer as it’s protected from the trade winds. 

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Eau Lounge at Loterie Farm

Courtesy of Loterie Farm

2 p.m.: Take the short ferry ride back to Saint Martin and spend the afternoon in France—or at least on the French side of the island. The two main areas of St. Martin are Grand Case and Orient Bay. In Grand Case, you’ll find French cafes, beach bars, and lots of shopping, while Orient Bay is famous for its pristine beach. If you get hungry, stop at a “lolo”—a local barbeque stand found on almost every corner. For a real stand-out meal, head to Cynthia’s Talk of The Town. This tiny establishment offers everything from ribs to the freshest seafood, and you’ll often find locals gathering with live music.

4 p.m.Loterie Farm is a major attraction in the French St. Martin. This nature preserve has 135 acres of hiking trails and zip-lining courses. If you’re more interested in kicking back and relaxing, then you’ll also find pools and cabanas to soak up some sun or head to Hidden Forest Cafe, a treehouse-style lounge to grab a drink and take in the view.

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Le Pressoir's rum and cigar lounge

Courtesy of Le Pressoir SXM

7 p.m.: There is a reason that St. Martin is considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean. In true French fashion, they really care about food. For dinner, indulge in traditional French dishes at Le Ti Bouchon. This restaurant houses a modest eight tables on the porch of a cottage and has a menu that changes with the market. Or experience Le Pressoir, one of St. Martin's best-known restaurants. Head chef Alexis Chauvreau features an ever-changing prix-fixe menu with a mixture of inventive and classic dishes. They also recently opened La Part Des Anges next door, a rum and cigar bar.

10 p.m.: If you're up for more fun after dinner, head to Kali's Beach Bar. This beachside establishment, decked out in Rastafarian colors and decorated with hammocks, comes alive at night. You'll often find live music and beach bonfires lasting into the wee hours. You can also try their homemade rum—but beware: it's known to be dangerously strong. Blue Martini Bistro is another excellent option in Grand Case that turns their back garden into a lively nightlife spot with live music, darts, and beer pong.

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