Day 1: Philipsburg – St. Maarten, Dutch side
Philipsburg is the biggest town on island, with lots of shopping, entertainment and a great beach – it is the best place to start your trip on the island. Philipsburg is a town with something for everyone. For the family, there is the Yoda Guy exhibit, the beach and a great boardwalk. For foodies there are many great restaurants to choose from – ranging from local fare to dutch haute cuisine. And finally, for the shoppers, there are numerous exciting stores along the boardwalk, from large brands to local markets, Philipsburg has it all.
For a local lunch (that is very tasty) we recommend Semples Bar and Restaurant for their great BBQ chicken and roti.
After lunch, keep exploring the town. It has much to offer and discover. A few interesting spots include the “I Heart SXM” sign at the very end of the beach, the beautiful courthouse that is seating an active court and very beautiful from the outside – note: there are no cameras allowed inside. Go to the marina, which has some great little boutique shops and (one of our favorites) the “Greenhouse” restaurant.
DAY 2: Simpson Bay and Maho
On day 2, the fun is still only getting started. Simpson bay is a very busy part of the island, it also has some of the islands best yacht clubs with amenities and shops – lookout for the huge boats… Simpson bay has very beautiful beaches, usually pretty quiet making it ideal for families.
After enjoying the beach, it is time for lunch. There are many restaurants around for any taste. For dessert, the Carousel Gelateria is a must. Not only does it have the best ice cream on the whole island, but it also features a gallery of pictures – famous people eating ice cream, and a working carousel that the young and old will enjoy. After lunch, head to Maho! Here is the beach and the FUN! Go in the afternoon – when all of the big planes landing. This beach gets busy and very loud – not really recommended for little kids as the waves are quite big there too. Or keep a close eye on children – there are may be some moments when safety is a priority. This beach is very entertaining, just imagine huge planes flying just a few feet above your head! It really is quite a thrilling experience that you cannot afford to miss. For dinner (for you will presumably be hungry after enjoying the thrills of Maho) head over to the Maho Bay resort area. As an option you may snack on famous KLM Pizza (my favorite!). There is quite a lively night scene at Maho Bay Resort and there are some great restaurants and shops here. “Shipwreck Shop” is our top recommendation for souvenirs – always clean and friendly, you will find t-shirts, hats, bags and many other items of high quality. If you are travelling with a family and not really looking for an entertained night, head back to Philipsburg, for a more relaxed atmosphere. We also like Divi Resort with clean and quiet beach, restaurants, cafe and shop – kids friendly and safe.
Day 3: Marigot – Saint Martin, French side
Today is the day to sharpen your French skills, because we are heading to the French side of the island, Yes, you heard that right, the island is actually hosts two different coutries with two different flags and governments!. Start the day in Marigot, it is a lovely French town with very cute little shops and cafes. Our personal favorite is Le Café Plongier in downtown Marigot overlooking the beautiful marina. After breakfast, head to Pic Paradis. The islands highest point, which features not only a restaurant and bar but also a serviced pool and hiking opportunities. Not to mention treetop trekking and other activities. This place is great for everyone. You can easily spend a large portion of your day here. After Pic Paradis, head to Grand Case for dinner. Grand Case is probably the most beautiful town on the island, it has a long boulevard filled with restaurants serving everything from lobster to fresh fish. After dinner, enjoy a stroll along the beach.
Day 4 – Relax on the beach
Since it is the last day, its best to take a relaxed approach. Start the day off with breakfast in Philipsburg – the Holland house cafe is our favorite, but any small cafe in town will do. Then take the time to soak in the last bits of sun. Chances are that your flight will be in the afternoon, so relax, take some time to pack and be at the airport early. Beautiful PJIA is still under repair from hurricane Irma and the crowds in the waiting areas can get pretty big. Almost all of the international flights arrive early afternoon and depart before 5 pm. Sit back and reflect on the amazing time you have spent on the island. And remember, there is always next time…