St. Maarten, The Friendly Island


January 17, 2023
Words by Carolyn Steere
Photos courtesy of various

A welcoming, diverse population awaits you in St. Maarten, the Dutch side of a Caribbean Island, shared with the French territory of Saint Martin. Anyone who has tried to “island hop” in the Caribbean knows that it is not an easy feat, but St. Maarten is a hub for several islands including Saba, St. Barths and Anguilla to name a few.

Where to stay?

Adjacent to the international airport, The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino and Spa is a perfect choice. In one of their restaurants, Azul, you can sip a tropical cocktail before dinner and enjoy an exceptional view of the harbor as the planes land at St. Maarten’s notorious airport. Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, located on a private peninsula between Little Bay and Great Bay has a secluded beach and amazing pools and is only a short distance to the capital of St. Maarten, Phillipsburg where shopaholics can indulge their senses. During the pandemic, a collection of 12 murals were painted by local artists and is definitely worth a trek around town to check them out.

What to do?

You don’t have to be bored with the number of activities for all ages and preferences. For thrill-seekers, The Flying Dutchman, located in Rainforest Adventures is the steepest zipline in the world and does not disappoint. To calm your adrenaline rush, a sunset sail on Pyratz Luxury Boat Charters is the perfect way to end your day.  Being a Caribbean Island, water sports of all kinds are readily available as well as horseback riding along the shore, and great hikes to take in the stunning landscapes. To learn more about sustainable gardening and wellness through growing your own herbs, Denicio Wyatte at Spaceless Gardens provides a unique and educational experience. You also don’t have to travel to Paris to enjoy a bit of French flavor (and pastries) when you easily cross over to the drive to St. Martin, the French side of the island.

Where to eat?

For the foodies among us, the diversity of the population has made St. Maarten a culinary feast of options. Chef Davide Zagami and his wife Scarlet of Sale & Pepe offer delicious cuisine best described as “Italian with an Island Flare” just steps from the waterfront where multi-million dollar yachts are moored. The Ocean Lounge at Holland House located in Phillipsburg is beachfront dining at its best featuring flavors from Europe and the Caribbean. “Lolos,” the local name for roadside eateries, are not to be missed on St. Maarten. Be sure to try “doubles” or “roti’s” at Cindy’s Roti Shack or great bites and cocktails at Sexy Beef or barbeque at Fat Boy Jimmy’s BBQ. 

Rich in history and charm, St. Maarten has so much to offer as a honeymoon, romantic getaway or destination wedding. Local resources for planning a destination wedding with a European flare are easily at St. Maarten Weddings.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance; left to right): Divi Little Bay Beach Resort (1 & 2); The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort (3); Pyratz Luxury Boat Charters (4 & 5); Rainforest Adventures (6); Bronwyn Knight (7, 8 & 10); Holland House (9); St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (11 & 12)

Couple in Punta Cana doing a destination wedding by the ocean
Destination Weddings at Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva
Iberostar Weddings
Couple in Cancun doing a gazebo destination wedding
White couple getting married in Punta Cana, DR
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Destination Weddings
Black couple getting married in Jamaica
Jamaica Destination Weddings
Couple in Cancun doing a gazebo destination wedding
White couple getting married in Punta Cana, DR
destination wedding couple throwing rose petals in costa mujeres
Iberostar Weddings

Find a Vendor

Access our list of vendors based on your destination location.