One of many nice sights of a trip within the Caribbean is the possibility to do a little bit of island hopping. After all, so as to take action successfully, it’s important to decide your targets and, importantly, an acceptable leaping off spot. St. Thomas as a place to begin for the Virgin Island and St. Vincent for exploring the Grenadines spring to thoughts, however if you wish to do some island hoping that exposes you to some completely distinctive cultural experiences, then island hopping round St. Martin is your greatest wager.

To start with, whereas I’m utilizing the final time period “St. Martin,” you might be really getting two separate nations on one island: the French St. Martin and the Dutch Sint Maarten. And from there you may simply attain three different islands – Anguilla, Saba, and St. Barth – every with its personal vastly totally different attraction. All are simply reachable, both for a day journey or an extended go to.

So, let’s bounce in and discover the primary spots to go island hopping round St. Martin.

See additionally: Island Hopping in the Caribbean

The place to go island hopping round St. Martin

You may both base your self at St. Martin or begin off on the island and hop round.

Sint Maarten

Island hopping around St. Martin, starting at Sint Martin
Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten, is a bustling cruise port with a few of the greatest duty-free procuring within the Caribbean and a energetic beachfront. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

Sint Maarten serves because the pure hub for the realm due to its trendy worldwide airport. Princess Juliana Airport is properly served by most US and Canadian airways, with common flights all year long. Its Dutch/French connection additionally ensures frequent service from Europe, primarily Amsterdam and Paris. So, it’s simple to get to and is extraordinarily consumer pleasant, with little or no tradition shock for first timers to the Caribbean.

The bigger resorts, some with casinos, are situated on the “Dutch facet” because the islanders consult with it. Most are situated instantly on white sand seashores in energetic places like Simpson Bay, Cupecoy Seashore and the airport adjoining Maho Seashore, a favorite of the Instagram crowd.

Philipsburg, the capital, is by far the most important, busiest city within the area and is known for its duty-free procuring, which has dramatically expanded in recent times as a result of multi-million-dollar improvement of its cruise ship terminal. The draw back, in fact, is that it may well get fairly busy when a couple of of the massive ships are on the town. 

However the bustle of Sint Maarten additionally means that there’s all the time a alternative of issues to do. There are many actions, from a calming seashore barbecue to serving to crew a former America’s Cup 12 metre yacht in a race across the island. This selection makes Sint Maarten a very good place for households. There may be additionally an energetic nightlife, that means it may be little bit of a extra adult-oriented playground as properly. While you get proper all the way down to it, Sint Maarten is a type of uncommon locations that may actually lay declare to being, “enjoyable for all ages.

And, maybe most significantly, Sint Maarten is both a drive, a ferry journey or quick flight away from the opposite islands we’re specializing in.

St. Martin

Island hopping around St. Martin
The seashore at Grand Case in St. Martin is lined with gourmand eating places and funky bars. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

Drive throughout the unmanned border (no passport required) and it doesn’t take lengthy to note the distinction. The panorama will get a bit greener and hillier, the event noticeably much less and the bustle of the Dutch facet begins to present strategy to a extra laid-back, distinctly Gallic really feel.

St. Martin actually has its personal attraction. The seashores, although much less quite a few than these of its neighbour, are higher, and customarily much less crowded. Orient Bay Seashore is maybe essentially the most spectacular, with Anse Marcel and the secluded and peaceable Baie Rouge additionally worthy of point out. 

The small capital of Marigot is charming, although not absolutely recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. There’s a little bit of a busier vibe than the remainder of St. Martin, an attractive harbour and good small locations to seize a drink, espresso or sandwich. A quick (uphill) stroll from the city will take you to the ruins of Fort Louis, inbuilt 1789 to defend the city in opposition to the British, Dutch, and marauding pirates. The spectacular views make it properly well worth the hike.

St. Martin has its fair proportion of actions, although admittedly lower than the Dutch facet and of a much less adrenaline-pumping nature. There are some good climbing trails and sail/snorkel excursions, however the cause most individuals come to St. Martin is to calm down. And to eat.

Surprisingly, particularly given its small dimension, St. Martin has constructed a popularity because the gourmand capital of the Caribbean. There are glorious eating places scattered all through the French facet, in locations like Marigot and Orient Seashore, however by far the capital of the island’s positive eating scene is Grand Case.

This small, picturesque beachfront city is residence to some superb institutions that supply the perfect of French Creole cooking, with an emphasis on seafood. Some standouts embody Auberge Gourmande, Ocean 82 and Le Pressoir. And for those who really feel you want a break from positive eating, you may strive one among Grand Case’s lolos – energetic out of doors eating places specializing in native dishes centred across the barbecue.

Grand Case can also be a beautiful place for a seashore stroll, the place you may take within the view of our subsequent island-hopping vacation spot, Anguilla.


Anguilla, an island near St. Martin in the Caribbean
There’s little doubt that Anguilla’s most important attraction is its spectacular seashores. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

The gap from St. Martin to Anguilla is lower than 30km. The principle route between the 2 islands is the 25-minute public ferry journey from Marigot, on the French facet, to Blowing Level in Anguilla. You can too take one of many shuttles that present speedboat service, just about throughout from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch facet. Or you may catch a 10-minute flight between the islands, however it’s hardly well worth the effort or price. Nonetheless, you get there, be sure you take your passport. Anguilla is a British territory.

If you’re searching for one phrase to explain Anguilla, that phrase is undoubtedly ‘seashores’. This lengthy, flat slim island (the title means ‘eel’) appears to encompass little greater than a string of seashores. The truth is, there are over 30 of them dotted alongside its 60km of shoreline.

Anguilla seashores are merely idyllic: lengthy stretches of powdery, white sand set in opposition to calm, shallow turquoise seas. Good for sunbathing, swimming or simply strolling. Shoal Bay is commonly ranked the highest seashore within the Caribbean and among the best on the earth. However there are numerous extra that come near difficult for these honours, Meads Bay, Maundys Bay, Sandy Floor, and Rendezvous Bay amongst them.

And, as you’d count on from a Caribbean Island with so many nice seashores, Anguilla is known for its legendary seashore bars. No island, no matter dimension, commonly options so many names on printed lists of the High Ten Seashore Bars. It’s actually a seashore bar-hopper’s paradise, with locations like Gwen’s Reggae Grill (Shoal Bay) and Elvis’ (Sandy Floor), in addition to the Sunshine Shack and Dune Preserve (Rendezvous Bay).

The islands seashores are additionally residence to a few of the area’s most spectacular resorts. Right here you will discover the Four Seasons Anguilla, the Malliouhana, Zemi Beach Resort and the enduring Belmond Cap Juluca. Their presence has additionally significantly elevated the island’s eating scene in recent times.

What Anguilla doesn’t have is quite a lot of actions (past crusing and snorkelling), a vibrant nightlife, duty-free procuring of any type, or a lot of a alternative of price range lodging. And there isn’t actually a city to discover. However, imagine me, with these seashores, it’s simple to neglect about all that.


island hopping around st. martin - A Guide to Island Hopping Around St. Martin
Saba affords a mystical panorama of lush hills and picturesque villages evoking a Caribbean of the previous. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

At a distance of 50km from St. Martin, the island of Saba is the furthest flung of our island-hopping targets. It’s also one of the uncommon, unspoilt, and surprisingly charming islands not solely within the area, however all through your complete Caribbean.

Saba just isn’t for the informal traveler, or these searching for the stereotypical island paradise. To start with, it’s not precisely the best island to get to. Most guests arrive by the quick ferry from Sint Maarten, an typically bumpy 90-minute journey. Or you may fly there. The flight takes a mere quarter-hour, however you might be then confronted with touchdown on a tiny airport seemingly carved out of the hillside and that includes the smallest industrial runway on the earth. And don’t count on palm lined white sand seashores. At a compact 13 sq. kilometres, Saba is basically a volcano elevating steeply from the ocean.

However those that do courageous the journey will uncover an virtually mystical panorama of winding roads, quaint crimson and white wood cottages, and pleasant down-to-earth individuals – an embodiment of the outdated Caribbean as many think about it. The island is basically an eco-paradise, above and beneath the waterline, with difficult rain forest hikes and world-renowned dive websites. Those that handle the hike up the aptly named Mt. Surroundings might be rewarded with breathtaking views throughout the Caribbean to St Martin, St Barths, and past.

Lodging and eating are typically quaint and comfy moderately than luxurious, with lower than 100 rooms in whole unfold amongst a handful of small accommodations, visitor homes and cottages. Queen’s Garden Resort and Juliana’s are essentially the most notable accommodations on the island, each tucked into the hillside amongst wealthy foliage.

The tempo on Saba is sluggish and other than exploring the tiny quaint villages of The Backside and Windward facet, there isn’t a lot to do besides benefit from the island’s pure magnificence – the explanation Saba proudly promotes itself because the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean”.

St. Barth

island hopping around st. martin - A Guide to Island Hopping Around St. Martin
St. Barth’s energetic capital of Gustavia is residence to multi-million-dollar yachts, high-end designer retailers and stylish bars and cafes. Photograph credit score: Ian Corks

If Saba is sleepy, St. Barth is buzzing. The truth is, the 2 islands couldn’t be extra totally different. St. Barth is nearer to St. Martin and far simpler to get to. Quick, trendy ferries service the island from three totally different places in St. Martin, with the shortest journey taking 45 minutes.  As well as, there are frequent flights (quarter-hour in period) from Princess Juliana and Grand Case airports.

St. Barth is a taking place place, albeit a moderately expensive one. Before everything, St. Barth is a distinctly French island. However not within the Creole French fashion of Martinique or Guadeloupe. St. Barth is nearer to the French Riviera transplanted within the Caribbean.

The capital of Gustavia is famous for the multi-million-dollar yachts within the harbour and the stylish eating places and high-end designer retailers (don’t count on any duty-free bargains) lining its most important avenue, together with a Dolce & Gabbana Martini bar. And for those who want a break, the stunning Shell Seashore is inside strolling distance of the downtown.

If Gustavia doesn’t excite you, a 10-minute taxi journey will take you to the island’s different scorching spot, St-Jean Seashore. This magnificent stretch of gleaming sand is anchored at one finish by the fabled Eden Rock resort and the famend Nikki Seashore restaurant, and on the different by St. Barth’s extremely Instagrammable small airport. The scene at St-Jean Seashore, and different components of the island, by no means actually stops.

Nonetheless, when you get past the glitz and glamour, you’ll discover that St. Barth is a remarkably stunning little island. It’s excellent for renting a automotive and exploring the plush, hilly terrain. You’ll discover various different enticing, extra secluded, seashores like Grand Saline, Anse du Gouverneur, and Colombier Seashore, in addition to some low key however surprisingly luxurious, accommodations.

Briefly, St. Barth generally is a blast, particularly for those who don’t thoughts the sometimes-scary costs.

Issues to think about when island hopping round St. Martin

  • Entry: Every of those locations may be comparatively simply accessed by ferry or airplane from St. Martin, with the longest journey being the 90-minute quick ferry to Saba. All may be performed in a day, nevertheless, on account of its geography, Saba is best served by an in a single day keep in one among its quaint little accommodations or visitor homes. And, in fact, all lend themselves to longer stays.
  • Forex: You may freely use US {dollars} in Anguilla, Saba, and Sint Maarten (although the official forex within the latter nation is the Antillean Guilder). In St. Martin and St. Barth, nevertheless, Euros are the forex of file. You could get away with US {dollars} (particularly in St, Martin), however it can probably be frowned upon.

  • Ian Corks

    An award-winning medical/healthcare journalist and life-style author, Ian likes to journey, with the Caribbean being his favorite vacation spot. He has visited over 45 particular person islands thus far (the Bahamas and Bermuda included), writing about his travels for various publications and media retailers. Ian is an enthusiastic beginner bartender, most cancers warrior and licensed seashore bar aficionado.


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