St. Maarten is one of those special places where the fun factor revolves around the clock. Powered by a lively tourism industry with seaside activities like paddle boarding and kayaking, as well as nightlife scenes concentrated on clubs and casinos, this beautiful island country is a definite place-to-be in the Caribbean. To tell the truth, it holds the number eight spot in the top ten best Caribbean islands for the 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards of TripAdvisor.
This high level of recognition is given to popular tourist destinations, such as St. Maarten, based on actual reviews and opinions of travelers. In addition, it reflects how the island nation mirrors exemplary service, quality, and customer satisfaction across the board. Now, to further prove St. Maarten’s status as a bona fide traveler’s paradise, let’s direct our attention to the ideal mix of fun daytime pursuits and exciting events nightly.
For us, St. Maarten is really “the best way to discover the coastline.” There’s nothing quite like the glorious feeling of being at one with the sea while on a kayak or a windsurf board. The island’s generally flat and placid water bay makes it easy for beginners to learn this sport. On the flipside, its scenic surroundings give justice to a distinct view while on a standup paddleboard.
There are two notable paddleboard locations in St. Maarten. One is in Pinel Island, which presents a gorgeous coastline of turquoise and tranquil waters. Tourists also enjoy a sandbar by the beach where they can hangout and recover all afternoon. Furthermore, Pinel Island has a marine life complete with picturesque reefs and a variety of sea creatures.
Grand Case, on the other hand, is another fantastic place for paddle boarding. Here, travelers can paddleboard and look for stingrays and sea turtles at the right end of the beach. They can even head on over to Creole Rock, which is a top-rated snorkel spot in St. Maarten.
Nighttime at St. Maarten highlights a perfect way to cap off an eventful day. With the plethora of discos on the island, tourists will have plenty of avenues to party with friends and meet equally fun people along the way. Aside from dancing to latest club hits and live music acts, St. Maarten also features some of the best casinos in the Caribbean.
Nowadays, with the emergence of modern technology, online casinos have sort of captivated players with a convenient mode of enjoying their favorite games on an easy-to-navigate platform. Some, like Gala Casino, have even incorporated famous television shows such as Deal or No Deal to entice fans and provide them a one-of-a-kind experience. However, in St. Maarten, land-based casinos still make a strong case in terms of offering viable places for huge winnings and, of course, nightlife enjoyment.
There’s Philipsburg’s well-known Front Street, where the likes of futuristic gaming monoliths, Coliseum Casino and Rouge et Noir, call St. Maarten’s capital home. Casino Royale (not to be mistaken with the James Bond film) at the Maho Beach Hotel is the biggest of its kind on the island. Just a couple of minutes away from it is Atlantis Casino, which is a fitting, ancient nautical-themed place. Speaking of themed, Lightning Casino caters primarily to sports fans with its round-the-clock showing of different athletic events.
Pinel Island is a well known destination for snorkeling but once you get there, it's not obvious to find the best spot. Whether you get there by kayak, paddle board or ferry, you need to take that opportunity to discover and explore the underwater world..! With its flat waters and its little to no current, the bay of Cul-de-Sac is one of the most accessible place for snorkeling, even for small kids and beginners.
So here are our top 3 recommendations:
Living in Saint-Martin has many assets to offer. And one of them is that we have Islands closed by to travel to in no time, either for a day trip or for the week end. An Island Hoping paradise for everybody: the locals and the visitors!
Anguilla is the British Island located at the North of Saint-Martin, less than 4 miles away. It is famous for its beautiful beaches and its crystal clear water. This is the perfect Island for a relaxing getaway (beach, snorkeling, water activities…) since besides the magnificent coast, there is not much to do over there.
Saba is located at the South West of Sint-Marteen and belongs to the Dutch. It is actually the highest land of Netherland! The landscape is the opposite from Anguilla’s (which is absolutely flat) and the particularity of this island is… It is a beachless Caribbean Island. How incredible, right? But no worries, you still have a lot to do over there, mostly sportive activities! Basically, Saba is well known for its beautiful hikes in the mountain with thousands of different plants & amazing deep dives with colorful reefs. This is a great alternative from the “beach style” vacations that most of the Caribbean Islands usually offer.
And the last, but not the least: Saint-Barth
. We are sure that you have already heard of it, isn’t it? ☺ Saint-Barth is located at the west of Saint-Martin, and is accessible either by ferry (30 minutes of ferry ride), by charter plane (12 minutes of flight), with a helicopter (10 minutes of flight) or by private boat. This island is a pure gem! Famous to be the destination for the famous and rich people, this French island has everything to satisfy everybody’s tastes (but still pricey)! Hilly landscapes with amazing point of views of the deep blue & turquoise Caribbean sea, white sand beaches, great shopping (!!), 5 stars resorts or charming casual ones, gastronomic restaurants, hikes on the wild side, natural pools… And of course, all the water activities you can think of!
Are you thinking of going to Pinel Island during your stay on Saint-Martin?
First, this is definitely a great idea that should be at the top of your “to do list”. Pinel is a must see, and spend the day over there is a guarantee of an unforgettable experience.
Second, there is nothing easier!
In Cul de Sac ferry station, the boats are departing everyday (except if the weather condition does not allow it) and at a very frequent times: every 30 minutes.
Basically, during high season, the ferries run from Monday through Sunday, from 9h30am until 5:00pm (same opening hours as Caribbean Paddling all year long ;)). During low season, the last ferry back from Pinel Island leaves at 4:00pm and you’d better not miss it if you do not want to spend the night with our favorite iguanas!
To sum up, in low season, renting your gear through us to spend the day on Pinel gives you an extra hour in P.A.R.A.D.I.S.E.
More time to enjoy the sun, the white sand beaches, the turquoise water, some snorkelling & paddling in the bay, and why not one last homemade cocktail? ;)
You will find bellow the ferry schedule to go to Pinel Island, according to the time of the year you will be visiting our friendly island.
A lot of people ask this question: how can I reach you and/or Pinel Island? For us residents of St Martin - St Maarten, this is quite simple: just follow the road! It really is simple since there is only one road on our island! But, for everyone else, it's not as easy.
There are three possible places you might be starting from...
This week, Mother Nature sent us a gift by providing us with a strong swell coming from storm Alex located in the Atlantic. That was the opportunity for us to test our brand new F-One Madeiro paddle boards in real conditions. My good friend Johann was in the party, and Likka was on the beach for the pictures.
After checking the swell at Baie aux Prunes, we finally ended at Anse des Pères for some nice take-off.
Today , I met my new friend Barry and his girlfriend for another trip to St Martin! The meeting point: Maho Beach at the end of the runway of the airport Juliana !
There are 2 years , Barry had hired me 2 paddle boards had been already photographed at Maho Beach . His picture was even selected as picture of the year by the magazine SUPconnect.com ! That was in 2011. This year, he returns by St Martin with his friends, and gave me a call about doing another photo shoot. There was just to bring 3 standup paddle boards before heading to the beach . After drinking a beer together at the legendary Sunset Cafe , it was time to get to the water.
After a beach start , we paddled 50m and we are aligned with the runway , we had only to wait for the aircrafts, hoping to see big ones! I 've been here several times with friends to Maho to watch planes from the beach , but never ON the water .. Barry gave me the opportunity this year and it was amaaazing !
The gallery below is my own selection with my GoPro . I expect pictures of Barry to complete this super afternoon stand up paddle in Maho !