St. Maarten / St. Martin offers a wide variety of activities…Recently there has been an increase in the sports activities available on the island aimed at both fitness and fun. One can choose from an array of watersports activities to include snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, kayaking, laser sailing, parasailing, wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and island hopping, lagoon cruising, deep sea fishing, wave-runner and speed boat safaris. In addition, there is mountainbiking, off road touring, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing tours, golf and more! The following information will give you an idea of the various activities offered…
Biking – This sport is becoming more popular on the island. You can choose to bike alone or join other riders in organized excursions. The trails around Pic Paradis (Paradise Peak) are ideal for mountain biking. There are basically three main mountain bike trails on the island, with the most popular one being a maze of single paths called Bellevue offering magnificent views of the lagoon.
Golf – There is one 18-hole championship golf course on the island at Mullet Bay. The layout is surrounded by water and palm trees situated between the Simpson Bay Lagoon and Caribbean Sea. The golf course is open from 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM everyday. There is also a putting range, driving range and exclusive pro shop.
Horseback Riding – There are a few stables on the island who offer horseback riding excursions across the countryside of the interior and along the coast. Some of the rides end on the beach, with both the horse and rider wading out into the surf and sea. Riders of all ages and levels are welcome to enjoy the natural environment from a different perspective.
Tennis – Many of the resorts have tennis courts available for both day and night. All tennis courts are open to the public. An hourly fee is charged and advance reservations are required. You can choose to play on your own or enjoy a game with the resort tennis pro.
Deep Sea Fishing – Daily fishing charters are available any day. Deep Sea fishing is a popular activity with full-day and half-day charters available year-round. Marlin, dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Wahoo are the most common game fish in these waters. Charters usually include tackle, bait, food and refreshments. Bareboat charters are also available.
Diving – Diving offers unique views of the coral reefs and shipwrecks. Water temperatures average a comfortable 70 degrees F (21 C), while visibility ranges between 75 and 125 feet (22-37 meters). Over 40 dive sites are presently available around the island. The island’s reefs are rich and often located close to shore. Creole Rock and Proselyte are the most famous sites, the former for its easy access, the latter for the incredible beauty of coral and sponge covered walls, of corridors among the coral blocks which encrusted cannons and anchors from an 1801 wreck can be admired. Another common destination is the freighter Teigland, sunk deliberately on Cable Reef in 1993. Other more secluded spots provide the pleasant sensation of new discovery. Enjoy the underwater vista of Sint Maarten by day or by night.
Certified divers can rent tanks and equipment from watersport shops throughout the island. Beginners can take advantage of lessons from experiences professionals.
Kayaking – Kayak tours are the best ways to explore some of the island’s bays and lagoons. Tri-sport offers kayaks for rent and offers tours to let you experience the hidden areas of Simpson Bay Lagoon and coastline.
Kiteboarding – This is a relatively new sport…Extreme-sports enthusiasts will enjoy this hybrid of surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and windsurfing.
Personal Watersports – At many beaches, you can rent a variety of watersports items to include jetskis, wet bikes, water scooters and many more. The most popular beaches for rentals include Great Bay, Divi, Pelican, Kimsha, inside the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Mullet Bay and Orient Bay.
Rhino Safari Excursions – Two time winner of the Prestigious Tour of the Year Award, offers a fun interactive tour where you get to pilot your own watercraft in a guided 2 ½ hour snorkeling excursion.
Sailing – The Island offers plenty of stunning anchorages. Fully equipped marinas welcome visiting boats and visitors can rent everything from speedboats to canoes. You can rent your own sailboat or Hobie Cat and sail the bays and lagoons. For a truly unique adventure during your stay on St. Maarten, enjoy the exhilaration of America’s Cup Yacht Racing. It gives visitors the chance to experience the thrill of America’s Cup racing. Aspiring sailors serve as crew aboard the U.S. Stars and Stripes, which raced in 1987, or the Canadian contenders Canada II, True North, and True North IV, as these high performance boats are put through a race against each other. Previous sailing experience is not necessary, just a sense of adventure.
Snorkeling – Snorkeling the warm coastal waters of the island has always been a great attraction. Dawn Beach is well known as the best snorkeling site on the island followed by Cupecoy, Mullet Bay, Baie Rouge, Little Bay Beach and Maho Bay. For reef lovers, one will definitely enjoy snorkeling around Pinel Island, located just off the coast of St. Martin. You can take the ferry that runs from French Cul de Sac to Pinel Island. The Ferry begins operations early in the morning and continues during the entire day, the cost is approximately $5.00 per person, round-trip
Snorkeling Boat Trips - You can take the Sand Dollar Boat departing from Pelican Marina, Simpson Bay for a 3 hour snorkel trip offering coastal sightseeing, calm water, beautiful reefs and a small beach for shell seekers. Great for children, beginners and experts alike. The Golden Eagle located at Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg, a 76’ x 34’ Beam custom designed catamaran, offer a snorkel trip to the deserted island, Tintamarre.
Sunset Sails – For a nice romantic end to the day, there are various options for an evening coastal sail with open bar and hors d’oeuvres…Some even offer music while on board.
Windsurfing – Orient Beach and Coconut Grove, two beaches located on the windward North East coast of the island, situated side by side but divided by a peninsula are two best beaches for windsurfing. The best spot for beginners and intermediates is Coconut Grove offering flat water and easy launching. The popular Orient Bay offers challenging windsurfing fun which is better situated to intermediates and advanced windsurfers. Wind Adventures and Club Orient Watersports offer equipment rentals.
Besides the various beaches and the wonderful watersports activities offered on the island, the following are some great activities for the entire family:
Aqua Mania Adventures – This watersports facility located at Pelican Marina offers some nice activities for the children. The “Children’s Lagoon Cruise” is a 1 ½ hour trip on the protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon during which children can take turns steering the boat. They get to water bomb a small wreck with water balloons and there are blow up animals to spot in the water for the little ones. The company’s “Playstation” is a catamaran converted into a playground platform with swings and slides located off Kimsha Beach in Simpson Bay.
Beaches – The French side offers some great beaches for children where the waters are very calm to include Le Galion Beach which is protected by an offshore reef, Friar’s Bay near Marigot and Grand Case’s Petit Plage. Also, Orient Bay offers great sandy playgrounds at La Playa, Bikini Beach & Coco Beach.
Butterfly Farm – The Butterfly Farm features hundreds of rare and exotic butterflies in an evergreen garden complete with ponds and a waterfall. It is best to arrive early in the morning in order to see the beautiful butterflies coming out of their cocoons. Admission is $12.00 for adults and ½ price for children.
Loterie Farm – Located just off the main road to Pic Paradis, the tallest hill on the island, Loterie Farm is an excellent place to explore and enjoy the hiking. You can take the hiking trails and enjoy breathtaking views of the island. There are trails for children as well. The Loterie Farm has the island’s first canopy-style riding, know as “The Fly Zone”. This is an exciting course of zip-lines and is fun for both children and adults. There is another one called “Little Tarzan” for the smaller children.
Seaworld Explorer – A semi submarine reef cruise to Creole Rock off the coat of the village of Grand Case. Explore the beautiful underwater life and coral formations without getting wet! The semi submarine departs from the pier in Grand Case. The total trip time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Sint Maarten Museum – The museum is located in a 100-year-old building on Front Street in Philipsburg. The museum reflects the history and the culture of the island and its people from pre-historic to modern times. There is a museum gift offering a variety of souvenir items. Admission is $1.00 for adults and children enter for free.
Sputters Miniature Golf – Located in Simpson Bay, this 19-hole golf course features obstacles that are replicas of island landmarks. While the children play, you can sit and enjoy a cold drink on the large deck.
St. Maarten Zoological Park – The St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden, located just east of Philipsburg is home to several kinds of animal species, a collection of exotic birds and a variety of beautiful plants form all over the Caribbean. Of special interest are the golden lion tamarin, the spectacled owls, the caimans and the beautiful orchid displays. There is a great playground for kids and a souvenir shop. Admission is US$10.00 for adults and US$5.00 per child.
St. Martin Museum - At the southern end of Marigot, next to Marina Port la Royale, is a museum showing exhibitions of the history and heritage of the French side of the island. Admission is for free.
Swim with the Dolphins – If you want to experience swimming with the dolphins, hop over to Anguilla for the day for this wonderful experience! You could take the ferry over from Marigot. Various packages are offered.
Island Hopping for the Day
You can enjoy a choice of islands during your visit to St. Maarten/St. Martin for the day. Anguilla, Saba & St. Barths are easily accessible by a Ferry ride or all day sail aboard a catamaran. The following gives you a brief description of each island and the recommended ways to visit the island for the day. Don’t forget that a Passport or I.D. is required when you are visiting any of the other islands.
Saba – Located 28 miles south of St. Maarten/St. Maarten, Saba is referred to as “The Unspoiled Queen”. Saba is a cone-shaped island which is the peak of a volcanic mountain that rises sharply from the Ocean Floor. It is a beautiful island where scuba divers and nature lovers come to enjoy the tropical beauty.
Anguilla – Quiet and pristine, the island of Anguilla is located 6 miles from the shores of French St. Martin. It is a slender, low lying island of limestone and coral, Anguilla measures 16 miles long and 3 miles wide at its largest curve. Its inland waters and salt ponds are home to a variety of unusual birds, and its outer edges are a beach-lovers dream.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) – A quaint and chic French island is a fashionable haven for jet-setters. This tiny piece of paradise lies 15 miles from St. Maarten/St. Martin and can be seen from your suite at Princess Heights. Enjoy the popular beach of St. Jean Bay or spend some time in Gustavia, the capital, where the quaint wooden and stone buildings house fashionable cafes, gourmet restaurants, and an alluring array of specialty shops.
Other Islands – You may also enjoy all day catamaran sails to very small, uninhabited islands to include Prickly Pear, Scilly Cay, Pinel Island, etc.
Ferry rides available
Taking the Ferry gives you enough time to shop, dive, hike, visit various beaches and savor the unique flavors of each destination.
Voyages 1 and 2 (Motorboats) - Voyager 1 and 2 are high-speed, state-of-the-art vessels that offer the ultimate in comfort and stability to St. Barths. Relax on the sun or shade deck, enjoying the complimentary drinks. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, the ferry departs from Marigot harbor and on Wednesday and Sunday it departs from Oyster Pond.
The Edge I & II – The Edge ferry is a wave-piercing catamaran departing from the Pelican Marina in Simpson Bay that transports you to neighboring islands in comfort and style to include St. Barths & Saba. Reservations are required.
Rapid Explorer - High Speed Hydro cruiser Ferry to St. Barths offer a luxurious alternative allowing one to travel in style and comfort. Air conditioning, cool towels offered by your hostess, an onboard entertainment system and bar ensure your trip is relaxing. Daily service from Philipsburg to St. Barths – 45 minutes and on Friday and Sunday from Marigot to St. Barths – 60 minutes
Day Sails Available
There are many day sails available to explore the neighboring islands; the following will give you an idea of some of the trips available.
Swaliga I - A motorized catamaran that travels to St. Barths, the playground of the Rich and Famous, form Great Bay Marina in Philipsburg. The trip normally includes Open bar on board, snacks and snorkel gear.
Swaliga II – A motorized catamaran that travels to Sandy Island or Prickly Pear from Great Bay Marina in Philipsburg. The trip normally includes Open bar on board, snacks and snorkel gear. Lunch is served on Sandy Island or Prickly Pear.
Lambada - A 62-foot sailing catamaran that travels to Anguilla & Prickly Pear. The trip normally includes lunch on the beach, complimentary bar on board and snorkel gear.
Random Wind the Sailing Clipper - A 54 foot traditional sailing clipper carrying no more than 12 – 15 passengers at a time. A beautiful intimate boat with lots of deck space with or without shades, when you want to be away from the crowds. They offer an all day sail around the island departing from Kimsha Beach, Simpson Bay. The trip normally includes a nice homemade lunch, snacks, open bar, snorkel gear, dinghy and floating mats.
Scooby Doo – A 75-foot catamaran carrying no more than 40 passengers at a time. They offer day sails to Prickly Pear & Shoal Bay, Anguilla. The trip normally includes BBQ lunch served ashore, complimentary bar on board, snacks and snorkel gear.