Renowned for gourmet cuisine, luxury accommodation, duty free shopping, picture-perfect beaches and an astonishing array of water- and land-based activities, the island nation of St Martin offers all the ingredients you need for a memorable Caribbean honeymoon.
This cosmopolitan Caribbean island famously embraces two distinctly different European cultures – French (Saint-Martin) and Dutch (Sint Maarten).
Collectively the two territories are known as ‘St Martin-St Maarten’ (French: Saint-Martin; Dutch: Sint Maarten).
It is the world's smallest inhabited island to be partitioned between two nations, roughly 60/40 per cent between France (53km2) and the Netherlands Antilles (34km²).
The amicable division dates to 1648 when the first European settlers divided the island. Each territory has retained much of the distinctiveness of its own national culture, although crossing the border is almost unnoticeable.
Choose from a selection of 39 gorgeous white-sand beaches that indent the island’s coastline.
Most beach bars and clubs are happy to rent umbrellas and sun loungers for a small fee, but may waive the charge when you order meals or drinks.
The best beaches in St Martin, include …
Pick your own spot to unwind on the powder-white sands of this lively 2km-long beach that shelves into the turquoise waters of an underwater marine reserve in sheltered Orient Bay.
Framed by grassy hills and backed by a choice of bars, bistros, restaurants and hotels, Orient Beach is the place to people-watch while grooving to the latest sounds and savouring tasty Creole dishes washed down with your favourite cocktail.
Facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers and water sports equipment for hire. Choose to have a beachside massage or go sailing, parasailing, kite surfing, windsurfing, water skiing and snorkelling over the multi-coloured offshore reef.
Come for a day and relax at the northern end of the beach, which is family friendly and conservative, or shed your inhibitions at the clothing-optional southern end.
Stay longer at a choice of hotels, including Hotel La Plantation, a luxurious villa-style hotel set on a slope overlooking the bay just a short walk from the beach. Or try the Club Orient, St Martin’s only nudist resort.
Orient Beach is on the east coast of St Martin.
Unwind on this palm-fringed crescent of white sand that gently shelves into Baie de l'Embouchure, a shallow, horseshoe-shaped bay that is perfect for swimming, snorkelling and windsurfing, with steady trade winds.
Enclosed by an offshore reef with shallow waters stretching for 100m into the bay, Baie de l'Embouchure is perfect for families with small children.
Facilities include a water sports rental shop and a beachside bar and restaurant.
Baie de l'Embouchure is part of a marine reserve and comprises Le Galion and Coconut Grove beaches, which are located just south of Orient Beach.
Dip your toes into the soft powder-white sand of this 1.5km-long beach that curves around Long Bay on the southwest coast of St Martin.
Backed by grass-covered dunes and occasional private villas, this idyllic and uncrowded beach curves around a scenic headland into the equally gorgeous Baie aux Prunes Beach.
Swim and snorkel in the reef-protected waters, unwind on the beach or go for a stroll to the cliff-edged promontory at the southern end or to Baie aux Prunes at the northern end.
Come for a day or stay longer at the luxurious Mediterranean-style La Samanna hotel. There are no facilities on the beach, other than those provided by the hotel.
Also known as Baie aux Prunes Beach and sitting adjacent to Baie Longue Beach, this 1.2km-long stretch of white sand is fringed by palm trees and grass-covered dunes and offers the perfect escape.
There are no facilities on this gorgeous beach, so pack a champagne picnic for a romantic day. Discover gin-clear waters with good swimming and snorkelling around the rocks.
Plum Beach stretches around St Martin's southwest point.
Backed by bush-covered hills and framed by cliff-strewn headlands, this uncrowded, 1.5km-long white-sand beach offers great sunbathing and swimming.
You can also enjoy good bird-watching at the western end (known as Falaise des Oiseaux (or Birds' Bluff) and great snorkelling by the Trou du Diable (or Devil's Hole), a collapsed cave with two natural arches and churning sea water – just beware the powerful undertow.
Facilities include two beach bars, where you can hire umbrellas and sun loungers.
Red Beach (or Baie Rouge) is located on the northern shore of the southwest peninsula of St Martin and is just a few kilometres south of Marigot, a 5-minute taxi ride away.
Choose your own spot to swim and sunbathe on this 1.2km-long beach of shimmering white sand that lies just southwest of Marigot.
Facilities include umbrellas and sun loungers for hire as well as numerous water sports kiosks, bars, restaurants and hotels that line the beach.
Come for a day or stay longer at the Creole-inspired Mercure Simson Beach Hotel.
Unwind on the soft white sands of this 300m-long beach that shelves into calm turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Facilities on this scenic beach include two beach bars.
Come for a day or party all night at one of the regular full moon parties, featuring bonfires, reggae bands and cold drinks.
Framed by bush-covered headlands, uncrowded Friar's Bay Beach (or Anse des Pères) is located on the west coast of St Martin, just north of Marigot.
This gorgeous crescent of palm-fringed, powder-soft white sand (also known as Anse Heureuse) sits an easy 10-minute walk over the headland from Friar's Bay Beach.
Go swimming or snorkelling in the calm waters, sunbathe on the beach or enjoy cool cocktails at the beachside bar with views across to Anguilla.
Pick your own spot to sunbathe on the powder-white sands of this 2km-long beach that shelves into the turquoise waters of Grand Case Bay.
If the popular centre section of the beach (featuring beachside bars and restaurants) becomes too crowded for your liking, simply walk to either end of this long beach for some quiet time.
Visit for a day or stay at the chic Le Petit Hotel.
Lying just north of Grand Case Beach is this gorgeous 400m-long crescent of white sand that fringes a pretty cove surrounded by towering grass-covered hills.
The shallow turquoise waters offer good swimming conditions, particularly suited to families with small children.
A wide range of facilities and creature comforts are provided by the luxurious beachfront Radisson St Martin Resort, which also features its own marine (should you arrive by yacht) and several restaurants and shops.
If Anse Marcel Beach gets too crowded for your liking, hire a water taxi or take a 90-minute hike over the northern headland to this pristine white-sand beach.
Pack a picnic as there are no facilities at this deserted and idyllic spot that faces Petites Cayes Bay and offers splendid views across to Anguilla.
Note: Topless sunbathing is more popular on the more liberal French side of the island than on the Dutch side.
On the French side of Saint Martin, discover lavish resorts, secluded beaches, the latest French fashions, gourmet cuisine and picturesque colonial villages.
In the pretty capital city of Marigot, experience a distinctly Gaelic ambiance while exploring streets lined with colonial houses, chic cafés, friendly bistros, pastry shops and luxury boutiques. The entire city is only four streets wide, so it is very easy to get around.
Browse the elegant duty free stores offering the latest in European designer fashions and fine jewellery. Don’t miss the tiny fishing village of Grand Case – the so-called ‘Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean’ – where you can choose from a superb selection of fine dining restaurants that overlook the beach.
Apart from lazing around the swimming pool or on a choice of great beaches, St Martin offers a huge array of water sports activities, including parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, big game fishing and sailing.
While, land-based action on the island includes hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
Scuba diving – Choose from several excellent dive sites including reef, wreck, cave and drift diving in depths from 6m to 21m. The island’s clear waters offer good visibility over reefs teeming with several species of fish including grunts, stingrays, mantas, moray eels, barracuda, tarpon, banded coral shrimp, Caribbean spiny lobsters, reef sharks, nurse sharks and endangered green, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles.
In St Martin, check out the dive sites around Îlet Pinel, Creole Rock, Green Cay and Tintamarre.
In St Maarten, dive the 1770 British man-of-war HMS Proselyte, which met its end on a reef 2km off Philipsburg in 1801. Also try St Maarten’s Frenchman's Reef, Lucy's Barge, Pelican Rock and One Step Beyond. Several dive centres offer day and night underwater excursions, with a full range of PADI certification courses on offer for beginners.
Snorkelling – With so many shallow reefs fronting the calm waters of scenic coves, St Martin is definitely a snorkeller’s paradise. For the best snorkelling in St Martin, head to the northeast coast and the underwater nature reserve of Réserve Sous-Marine Régionale, which protects the region around Tintamarre, Îlet Pinel, Green Key and Petite Clef islands.
The offshore reef around Creole Rock is another good spot, although this requires a 2-hour boat trip to reach it.
In St Maarten, the best spots are at Mullet Bay, Cay Bay, Little Bay, Dawn Beach, Plum Bay and Baie Rouge. Flippers and masks are easily rented from hotels or beachside water sports kiosks.
Sailing – Sign up for an America's Cup yachting competition in St Maarten's 12-Metre Challenge, which lets you race 1980s-era America's Cup boats in a 3-hour regatta every day; previous sailing experience isn't required.
Alternatively, rent a 6m Sunfast to explore Simpson Bay Lagoon and surrounding waters.
Deep-sea fishing – Enter one of the annual fishing competitions such as May's Marlin Cup and June's Billfish Tournament. Or hook up a charter at any time of year to chase tuna, wahoo, snapper, grouper, jack, pompano, yellowtail and marlin.
Island hopping – Satisfy your Robinson Crusoe fantasies with a day trip to an idyllic offshore island where you can relax in seclusion on a white-sand beach, snorkel pristine coral gardens, swim in gin-clear waters and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch beneath gently swaying palm fronds.
Head to idyllic Îlet Pinel (Pinel Island), a tiny offshore cay ringed with a white-sand beach near St Martin's Orient Beach. Swim and snorkel the lagoon, and should you forgot to take a picnic hamper, settle for freshly grilled seafood and cold drinks at a choice of beachfront bistros, which also offer umbrellas and sun loungers.
Or try Tintamarre, which features sugar-white beaches, dramatic ochre cliffs crammed with nesting seabirds, coral reefs teeming with rainbow-hued fish, and inland woodlands that are perfect for hiking. Alternatively, take a day trip to nearby Anguilla's Scilly Cay, Sandy Island and Prickly Pear Island.
Hiking – Hike coastal trails to hidden coves fringed by idyllic white-sand beaches or wander through semi-desert to tropical rainforest in the central interior where you can hike the 445m-high Pic du Paradis, looking out for cliff-nesting ospreys, black-necked stilts and coots, among other birdlife.
Horseback riding – Both the Dutch and French sides of the island have riding stables that cater to all ability levels, with rides through bush and forest and along beaches.
Golf – Tee-off from the 18-hole Joseph Lee-designed Mullet Bay Golf Course, the island’s only links, featuring stunning ocean, pond and lagoon hazards.
St Martin offers a range of accommodation options to suit all honeymoon budgets. To splash out in style, try the elegant and world class Belmond La Samanna, famously home to a signature restaurant overlooking the stunning white sands of Baie Longue.
Or check out the intimate Le Petit Hotel, a small and chic hotel facing the white sands of Grand Case Beach, just a short stroll away from a choice of fine dining restaurants.
The best time to visit St Martin is from November to early December and May to June – so avoiding peak-season crowds and high prices – when temperatures average from a low of 23°C (73°F) to a high of 28°C (82°F).
For the best weather visit in February, March and April.
St Martin is a year-round holiday destination and enjoys a tropical but mainly dry climate with year-round sunshine and occasional brief rain showers.
For more climate info: St Martin Weather Guide…
Saint Martin is located in the Leeward Group of the Lesser Antilles in the northeast Caribbean. The island lies 8km (5mi) south of the British territory of Anguilla, 24km (15mi) northwest of St Barts (St Barthélemy), and approximately 300km (190mi) east of Puerto Rico.
Saint Martin is an overseas collectivity of France and encompasses the northern 60% of the divided island of St Martin; the southern 40% of the island constitutes Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Collectively, the two territories are known as St Martin / St Maarten.
The most convenient route to Saint Martin is to fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Sint Maarten, located 10km (6mi) west of the capital, Philipsburg.
Taxis meet all arriving flights and both Dutch and French taxis service the entire island. Hotels can arrange transport by prior arrangement.
St Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) – the second-busiest airport in the eastern Caribbean, after San Juan, Puerto Rico – receives daily nonstop flights from North America and neighbouring Caribbean islands.
Alternatively, you can fly into the much smaller L'Espérance Airport (SFG), also known as Grand Case Airport, located at Grand Case in the French Collectivity of Saint Martin.
This airport is used mainly for small aircraft serving St Barts and neighbouring Caribbean islands.
Find out how to get to St Maarten…
Latest update: St Martin Honeymoon Guide: 4 January, 2023
St Martin Guide – The Definitive Guide to planning your St Martin vacation: Learn traveler's basics, how to get there, how to get around once you're there, where to stay, and what to see and do.