Double the countries, double the fun in the sun in French Saint-Martin and Dutch St. Maarten. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, delectable dining and unique museums found on the twin sides of this tropical island getaway in the Leeward group of the Lesser Antilles.
Orient Bay Beach
Often called the St. Tropez of the Caribbean, this white-sand beach along the northeast coast of Saint-Martin is as well known for its turquoise waters and breathtaking scenery as for the clothing-optional section at its southern end. There’s a lively beach-bar scene, with venues serving French food and barbecue, and offering chairs and umbrellas for rental. Boaters seeking a less-sedated day at the beach can find adventure outfitters for parasailing, personal-watercraft rentals, tubing, snorkeling and other watersports.
Choose your own adventure at this 135-acre private nature preserve off the beaten path in Saint-Martin. Self-guided hikes along marked trails wind past mango and mahogany trees in the tropical forest en route to Pic du Paradis (Paradise Peak)—elevation about 1,400 feet—for views of the whole island as well as Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius. Adrenaline junkies can traverse the forest by zip-line, on runs as long as 1,600 feet. Many visitors opt to lounge by the jungle pool, strong cocktail in hand, or take in the views while dining in the Jungle Room.
Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit
British makeup and creature-effects designer Nick Maley is best known for helping bring Yoda, the wise and ancient Jedi master, to life for the original Star Wars trilogy. He now brings the series from a galaxy far, far away to St. Maarten in this fun and unique museum in Philipsburg. Visitors can see Yoda, Han Solo in carbonite, Darth Vader and more memorabilia from Star Wars and some of the other 50-plus movies that Maley worked on throughout his career. On days when The Force is with you, you might find Maley on-site, sharing his many behind-the-scenes stories.
Opened in 1994, Bistrot Caraibes still shines brightly on the stellar foodie scene in Grand Case in Saint-Martin. It retains its standing as one of the best dining destinations on the island. Customers rave consistently and enthusiastically about this restaurant’s romantic atmosphere, top-notch service, well-curated wine list and fabulous French fare—especially the signature lobster thermidor.
Pineapple Pete/Wasabi Charlie
Just about everyone can find something to please their palate on the expansive menu at this casual, family-friendly dual venue in Philipsburg. It’s known for its attentive staff, friendly atmosphere and live music. Choose among sushi and steaks, pub grub and grilled seafood. There’s also a teppanyaki table during dinner hours.