St. Maarten and St. Martin sightseeing including "The Great Circle Tour."
St. Maarten and St. Martin Sightseeing
Sightseeing in St. Maarten / St. Martin is endless! Here are a number of St. Maarten / St. Martin sightseeing recommendations:
The Great Circle Tour: [see Get a Map, the last entry in this list] We've long recommended to the governments on both sides of the island that they formalize a Great Circle Tour, traversing the island's circumferential roads and formally encompassing everything significant on the island. It's easy to do, but they haven't don it. So we'll tell you many of the stops:
First, figure out where to start. Our recommendation: Simpson Bay, since a plurality of island hotels are there and it's central. A good first place to go is Pelican Key, where there are many resorts, a casino, shops, island excursions, and more. You can also drive into the key itself and check out the private villas. Continue to drive higher on the hill, and you'll get some fine views of Simpson Bay. Recommended restaurants here: The Stone, in the Marina Plaza; and Topper's By The Sea, at Flamingo resort. Click our Restaurants link (left) for much more dining info.
Second, as you drive toward Philipsburg, stop at the lookout area atop Cole Bay Hill, the single most photographed area on the island.
Third, drive to Philipsburg, the commercial center of the island. Lots of jewelry stores. On the pondfill, stop at Rima's, by far the largest souvenir shop on the island -- but there's more to them than that. They also have a huge assortment of island clothing at amazing prices. Don't forget to visit the boardwalk in downtown Philipsburg; great people-watching and good food at Taloula Mango's and many other restaurants.
Fourth, head north along the coast by Dawn beach and Orient beach. Dawn beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, though access to it is a bit challenging. We suggest you stop at Mr. Busby's Beach Bar and walk to the beach. There is a charge for parking and for beach chairs, but Busby's is a great spot for breakfast or lunch and the service is very good, plus your car is secure while parked inside their gates. Orient beach is the largest and most popular beach on the island, and at its far southern end is Club Orient, a naturist resort; the beach is open to the public and Club Orient is a perfect place to get an all-over tan. There is a charge for chairs / umbrellas. The entire beach is dotted with restaurants and hotels.
Fifth, stop by the Pinel island ferry in Anse Marcel. The area is scenic, as you'll discover, the ferry is cheap, and the beach at Pinel island is quite beautiful.
Sixth, walk Boulevard de Grand Case and check the menus of the fine French Restaurants there; pick one to return to at night. Reservations are a smart idea in season. Many restaurants are closed in September / October, the bottom of low season. Click our Restaurants link (left) for more.
Seventh, stop at the Marigot waterfront and enjoy the open-air market; good buying of a spectrum of items along the waterfront. Also visit Le West Indies Mall; see our Shopping pages for more.
Eighth, visit the border monument on the Union Road in Cole Bay, near Port de Plaisance Resort/Casino. (Photo opportunity.)
Ninth, drive through the French lowlands, looking at the views and many of the most expensive homes on the island. Great flower pictures too.
Tenth, stop at the shopping plaza at Porto Cupecoy near the border in the Cupecoy area. It's new and gorgeous and has great shopping plus really outstanding restaurants. Ernest & Fidel's is excellent. See our Restaurant pages for more.
Eleventh, check The Blue Mall, supposed to open Fall, 2011. High-end mall shops (Hugo Boss and many others) and the island's first Dunkin' Donuts.
Beaches are covered when you click the link, left.
Updated August 29, 2011