Sint Maarten or St. Martin, depending if you’re on the Dutch or French half of the island, is a friendly bit of paradise nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Explorer (I & II) have called this island home for well over 31 years. Although we do not often scuba dive around St. Maarten, our liveaboard charters either start or end there, allowing for a perfect send-off or welcome back on your trip.
"It’s hard to believe it was over 30 years ago when the original M/V Caribbean Explorer set sail from Bobby’s Marina in St. Maarten on her first ever scuba liveaboard charter! On that day in June 1987, there were no moorings; dive sites were located by triangulating landmarks ashore; all pertinent information was sent to boat captains via Telex…St. Maarten didn’t even have a USA direct phone on the island until 1989; and, she was the only scuba diving liveaboard to visit this grand destination!" Learn more about our history by visiting the 30th Anniversary Blog.
Skip ahead to the present, St. Maarten is now known as the capital of duty-free shopping, popular for its friendly local culture, the plethora of watersports, and lively nightlife. Geographically, the island is mountainous and volcanic. Its coastline offers ideal tropical landscapes from white sandy beaches to rugged rocks, wrecks, and hidden oases spattered in coconut trees and cabanas.
Our Caribbean Explorer II crew spends many of their vacation days on the island, and we thought ‘who better to share the island’s secrets than the crew?’ Currently, Caribbean Explorer II is undergoing an interior refit while docked in Simpson’s Bay; so, when not working hard, the crew have been out exploring and enjoying the local area. Here are some of their insider island tips:
What to Do in St. Maarten:
- Ramble the waterfront of Philipsburg. Spend an afternoon on its long white sand beach, indulge in guilt-free duty-free shopping, stroll into the many unique shops, and rent a beach chair [typically served with a bucket of ice cold Heineken].
- Boost your heart rate by doing an exciting water-based activity. You can parasail, sailboat race, and banana boat, among the most popular pursuits. Ziplining on the 'Flying Dutchman' and gondola sightseeing on the 'Sky Explorer' are great options for those who wish to stay land-based.
- Dance the night away in Phillipsburg, Maho, and Simpson Bay. Trendy beach bars, floating pubs, electric nightclubs, and glittering casinos will keep you busy until the wee hours of the morning. Sint Maarten is teased as the ‘mini-Vegas of the Caribbean’. We think it’s better than that!
- Meander through the streets of Marigot, the capital of French part. A whole day will fly by as you explore its old Creole houses, luxury boutiques, colorful market, and enjoy Marigot’s European-meets-Caribbean culinary delights.
- Get knocked off your feet at Maho Beach. Recall those famous pictures of an airplane landing (almost) right on a beach? Well, that’s Maho! The airport’s runway ends only feet from the beach, so bring a towel and your camera. Watch the flights come in. Be sure to look up which times the largest jets will take off!
- Indulge in the chill vibes at a beach bar. Relax at one of the blissed-out beachfront restaurants around the island of St. Maarten. Best enjoyed with mimosas or margaritas, and a good book. A great place to start is Layla's Beach Bar and Restaurant, a hidden oasis near Simpson Bay.
- Explore the nearby island of Anguilla on a 1-3 day trip. Discover secret beaches and undisturbed coastline. Capture the kind of bewitching images you see in Caribbean magazines and on desktop wallpapers. Grab the selfie of a lifetime!
Where to Stay in St. Maarten:
- Rent an Airbnb! Although there are many great resorts on the island, the growing number of highly unique Airbnb options can’t be beaten. Stay on a sailboat, in a mountaintop villa with an eternity pool, or in a palm tree covered beachside cabana. St. Maarten is overflowing with amazing Airbnb gems.
When to Go to St. Maarten:
- The crew enjoy all the activities year-round! The annual average temperature is 82-89F and the average water temperature is 79-85F. There is little seasonal difference between the dry and rainy seasons, so year-round you will enjoy hot weather and sunny days.
What are your must-dos when visiting St. Maarten? We want to know. Share on social media, and comment!
Learn more about St. Maarten: Click here
Learn more about our Caribbean Explorer II itinerary: Click here