How is it that I'm just getting around to writing this post? Though I've only been home a few weeks, it feels like it's been ages since I was basking in the beautiful sun in St. Martin. My trip totaled 12 days on the island, five of which were spent at an intimate all-inclusive resort (see my review here), and the rest of which were spent in an amazing four bedroom home overlooking Oyster Bay.
If there's one thing I have to say about St. Martin, it's that you MUST go there at some point in your life. It's seriously one of my favorite destinations ever, and I swear I'm already planning another trip back. Here's a little look at why:
Why St. Martin is a Must-See
1. It's Relatively Safe
Of course there's crime almost anywhere you go, BUT, St. Martin felt 10x safer than any of the other islands we've visited in the past. There wasn't nearly as much poverty (though there still is some) as we're used to seeing in destinations like this, and we felt completely comfortable renting a car and exploring on our own.
2. It's Beautiful
There's something about the island that sets it apart from most others...and it's the beauty. The water was almost always an exquisite turquoise blue, and each beach we visited had it's own character and unique qualities.
3. The Food
I'm not a big seafood eater, but Richard was in heaven. He ordered fish for almost every meal and absolutely loved it. For me, I enjoyed the authentic Caribbean cuisine at Philipsburg the instead. Either way though, we were majorly impressed with the food in St. Martin.
4. The Shopping
It may or may not be your thing, but the shopping is great in St. Martin. Since it's a popular cruise ship destination, they've got everything from little shack shops to fancy AF jewelry stores. Grab your beau and hit all of 'em up ;)
5. The People
St. Martin is known as "the happy island", and everyone we met was extremely welcoming towards us. This is definitely a quality we look for when thinking of where we'd like to plan return visits or recommend to friends.
BOTTOM LINE: If you've ever considered visiting St. Martin, just pull the effin' trigger. And if you haven't? Start considering it now, thank me later.
And when you do visit? Be sure to hit up some of my favorite spots I've rounded up for ya'll in my little (kinda big) travel guide below. I promise they won't disappoint!
Places to Go
Philipsburg was one of my favorite places that we visited in St. Martin, and I loved it so much that we actually went there three times different times. This is where all of the cruise ships dock, and there's a LOT of shopping. It's kind of touristy but, on our last day in St. Martin, we went back and there was only one small ship there. The place was practically deserted, which was kind of nice! We also went jet skiing one day, which was super fun to do in the ocean. AND, I'm dedicating a whole section of this guide to food, but absolutely eat at Caribbean Blend. The food's V authentic and downright delicious. Not to mention it's right next to the beach.
Okay, this one requires a bit of travel...but it's SO worth it. When we were renting the house in Oyster Bay, we took a ferry over to St. Barths. It was honestly the best day of my life. No joke. It was only about a half hour ride, and we got to spend the entire day on the island. I'd highly recommend renting ATVs and exploring (no tour guide needed), which is what we did. It was a blast, and the island was absolutely beautiful. Definitely check out the Gustaf III Airport, which is home to what is known as the third most dangerous air strip in the world. You can literally watch planes go right over your head before they drop down and land. It's crazy! There's also a lot of high end shopping and restaurants, which are fun to explore.
We only had the chance to hit Orient Beach once this trip, which was a shame in my book. It's perfect if you like to walk for awhile along the water, and there's also water sports and paddle boards available to rent. The Palm Beach Restaurant is also pretty good if you're looking for a bite to eat. The French onion soup was killer!
This beach is pretty small, but it's quaint and was within walking distance from our house. There's also supposedly pretty good snorkeling, but we didn't try it!
Mmm I could eat at this place every night. This was right by our house in Oyster Bay, and we actually did eat here two nights in a row. The food is great, and the restaurant is absolutely stunning, inside and out. Plus, they play great music! And if you like caesar salad, definitely give that a go. It was a big hit with our table.
I know I mentioned this a bit earlier, but Caribbean Blend (in Philipsburg) is a must-try if you're looking for some authentic, non-touristy cuisine. We also ate at this restaurant twice (I swear, we don't usually double dip, so trust me -- it was that good). I really enjoyed the chicken meal, which came with beans and rice and a fried plantain, and Richard liked the chicken wings and ribs. The seasoning is amazing, and everything is literally cooked by just one guy on the grill. It's awesome. Also, if you want to have a little drinky drink, get the BBC. It's basically a pina colada with Bailey's, and it's so good you'll swear off all other alcoholic bevs after you try it.
This is another Philipsburg restaurant, and we ate here the first time we visited. When I saw they had a goat cheese salad, I was immediately down. It really hit the spot in terms of a lighter lunch. We also tried the bitterballen (little fried balls with meat and stuff in them), which are a Dutch snack. We loved that they had something unique on the menu!
Au Petit Cafe
This is yet another Philipsburg restaurant that we tried, which was essentially a little French cafe. The environment was super charming, and I loved the crepes! They also serve smoothies, which are V refreshing on a hot day.
Palm Beach Restaurant
I said it earlier, but we loved the Palm Beach Restaurant at Orient Beach. We didn't have a full meal, but we tried a cheese plate and French onion soup. Both were great. It's also right on the beach, which was my favorite part, and there's a really nice deck for lounging and grabbing drinks.
Where to Stay
Sonesta Ocean Point
This is the all-inclusive, adults only resort that we spent five days enjoying prior to renting a house. You can read my full report here for more info!
My favorite part of our trip to St. Martin was renting a home in Oyster Bay. The views are absolutely stunning, and our home was within walking distance of the beach, restaurants, and the market. I loved this area and would definitely recommend it!
There are two sides of the island
St. Martin is split between the Dutch and French. However, know that the border is very easy to cross (as long as you're abiding by the law). Just make sure you've got your seatbelts buckled and all that jazz, because they will stop you at the border if you do not!
This is true for wherever your travels may bring you, but always be aware of your surroundings. I honestly felt much safer in St. Martin than I did on any of my trips to other islands in the past, but it's still important to keep an eye out since these areas are known to be hotspots for tourists. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't!
Nothings Too Far Away
We drove around the entire island in about an hour! It's really fun to go exploring, and you don't have to worry too much about not knowing where you're going. We got a feel for where everything was on the island in just a few days!
That's Not Actually Free...
We had several incidents where random people would try to get us to stop our car and talk. They would then proceed to tell us that we've "won something very exciting". This boils back down to the fact that the area is known to host a lot of tourists, who are a common target for these types of marketing scams. Very rarely are you actually going to get something of real value for free, so keep this in mind. Oftentimes these people will con you into spending a whole day with them so that they can convince you buy something. And guess what? You don't get your "free" item until you've already wasted the day away. No thanks.
Have you ever been to St. Martin? Considering it?