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St. Martin/St. Maarten is known for its gorgeous beaches and culinary delights. It’s also a good base in the Caribbean to be able to visit several other spectacular islands.

While I could be perfectly happy spending all my time in St. Martin, doing a day trip to a nearby island is an easy way to have an island-hopping vacation without taking a cruise.

If you are planning to travel to St. Martin should you also visit a nearby island? Let me go over the different day trips from St. Martin so that you can decide.

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Should You Do a Day Trip from St. Martin?

St. Martin/St. Maarten itself has plenty of attractions to easily keep you busy for a week, so you may be wondering if a day trip from St. Martin is worth it?

You could spend your entire vacation exploring some of the island’s beautiful beaches, doing some hiking, shopping, sampling the amazing restaurants, or even plane-spotting.

Sometimes, though, it is good to get a change of scenery. From St. Martin it is easy to travel to other nearby islands. Each time we visited St. Martin, we tried to fit in a day trip so that we could see more.

view from Zion Hill on Saba near St. Martin

Saba is one of the popular day trips from St. Martin

The islands around St. Martin do offer a different atmosphere than St. Martin, so if you can, I do think a day trip is a good idea. The only downside is that in most cases a day trip to one of the islands near St. Martin will cost more than staying on St. Martin.

If you are on a tight budget or have only a short stay in St. Martin, a day trip might not be worth it.

 

The Best Day Trips from St. Martin

St. Martin is located in the eastern Caribbean. You can travel to six different islands with just a short boat ride or flight.

Personally, I have done day trips to Anguilla, St. Barts, and many years ago I took a tour to Pinel Island. I still want to go to Saba, Tintamarre, and Sint Eustatius.I have teamed up with fellow travel bloggers to provide more information so that you can figure out which day trip from St. Martin is best for you.

 

Anguilla

Recommended by Anisa

beach chairs on Anguilla

Anguilla has some of the most picture perfect beaches that I have ever visited!

So far Anguilla has been my favorite day trip from St. Martin. The Anguilla beaches are stunning. Shoal Bay may be the most beautiful beach that I have ever visited. The sand is so white and the water is crystal clear.

You can take a ferry to Anguilla from Marigot. It’s best to rent a car to make it easy to explore the island, but keep in mind they drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are not comfortable driving, you can get a taxi by the dock.

Head to Shoal Bay Beach first. There you can enjoy a peaceful walk along the beach, swim in the sea, or relax on the sand. If you get hungry, there are several restaurants along the beach to choose from.

Shoal Bay is not the only beach worth visiting on Anguilla. We also enjoyed Meads Bay Beach. Some people prefer it to Shoal Bay. It has calm clear water and white sand but it’s not as big as Shoal Beach. It does have restaurants too. Blanchard’s Beach Shack is popular.

Another option for your day trip to Anguilla is to visit Sandy Island. It’s like a deserted island with a bar and restaurant. Take the ferry called Happiness from Sandy Ground on Anguilla to get there.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the ferry and exploring Anguilla on your own.  There are organized tours that will take you to Anguilla.  Get more information about a day tour to Anguilla here.

 

St. Barts

Recommended by Anisa

Shell Beach on St. Barts

Shell Beach is one of the gorgeous beaches you can visit when you take a day trip to St. Barts from St. Martin.

St. Barts, also known as St. Barths and St. Barthélemy,  was the first day trip from St. Martin that we did. We wanted to go to the island that we knew was a celebrity favorite. It may have been a bit expensive, but it was worth it.

The island is lush with some beautiful mountains and pristine beaches. While we didn’t spot any celebrities, we were in awe of the views of the Caribbean Sea.

We rented a car so that we could easily explore the island. Our first stop was Saline Beach. It’s a short walk from the parking lot but worth it as we almost had the beach to ourselves.

For lunch, we stopped at the Sand Bar, which is an upscale Jean-George restaurant. If you are looking for a beach club, the hot spot Nikki Beach is nearby. After lunch, we drove around the island stopping at some scenic viewpoints and beaches before heading back to return the car.

To get to St. Barts, you can either take a ferry or fly. The ferry docks in Gustavia. If you don’t want to rent a car for your day trip to St. Barts, check out the (expensive) shopping and restaurants in Gustavia, then walk to Shell Beach.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the ferry and exploring St. Barts on your own.  There are organized tours that will take you to St. Barts.  Get more information about a day tour to St. Barts here.

 

Pinel Island

Recommended by Natalie from A Pair of Travel Pants

Natalie hiking on Pinel Island

You can go hiking and relax on the beach when you visit Pinel Island on a day trip from St. Martin.

Pinel Island, also known as Îlet de Pinel, is the perfect day trip from St. Martin to go on with the family (or a significant other!) if you are looking for a quiet, relaxing beach away from the main tourist hubs of St. Martin.

You can get to the island via a 5-10 minute ferry ride which runs every 30 minutes from the Cul-de-Sac port. If you are the more active type, you can rent a paddle boat or a kayak and get to the island on your own steam. Kayaking over should only take about 20-30 minutes.

The boat docks at the entrance to Yellow Beach Bar, so if all you want is to stand in the surf and drink cold drinks while wondering how you got so lucky, you can stay here and enjoy your time in the sun.

If you wish to avoid the more crowded Yellow Beach Bar, check out the quieter Karibuni Bar just a couple minutes down the beach. They both have menus in English and French.

Hiking on Pinel Island is not strenuous as the elevation is relatively flat. We saw plenty of families out for a quick walk. The trails are easy to follow as well.

There are three main beaches on Pinel. If you walk over the island to the other side you can probably find yourself a quiet, empty beach to relax and snorkel on.

A day trip to from St. Martin to Pinel Island is ideal for photographing wildlife, snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, or hiking. Just make sure you bring enough sunscreen!

Read more about visiting Pinel Island.

 

Saba

Recommended by Erika from Erika’s Travels

View of Saba an easy day trip from St. Martin

Saba offers lush natural scenery and picturesque towns.

Saba is not a prototypical Caribbean holiday destination. The small island, easily reachable by boat or plane from St Maarten, is a special municipality of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles. Nicknamed the Caribbean’s Unspoiled Queen, Saba boasts lush jungle-like scenery, gingerbread towns, the tallest point in the Netherlands, and some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean.

Due to Saba’s location, it makes for an easy day trip from St. Maarten. Ferries leave Simpson Bay in St Maarten at 9:00 am and return at 3:30 pm. Passage between the islands takes just over an hour and costs $100 roundtrip.

Saba has four main towns: The Bottom, Windwardside, St John’s, and Hell’s Gate. Each of the picturesque towns consists of white gingerbread-style houses with attractive green trim and red roofs.

Mount Scenery is Saba’s tallest mountain and the island’s primary landmark. The hike to the top of the mountain begins in Windwardside and passes through lush rainforest. On a clear day, its summit affords 360-degree views of the sapphire Caribbean Sea.

Other activities on the island include hiking Saba’s vast network of trails and discovering the coral gardens that lie beneath its waters.

Unlike its surrounding islands, Saba does not have large-scale tourism or chain hotels. It doesn’t even have a major beach. Instead, Saba is an off-the-beaten-path gem, ideal for lovers of unspoiled nature and solitude.

Read more about visiting Saba.

 

Sint Eustatius

Recommended by Sarah from Obligatory Traveler

view from St. Eustatius

St. Eustatius is known for its scuba diving, but it’s also a good place for hiking!

A short flight from St. Maarten, is the small island of St. Eustatius, called Statia by the locals. Most visitors plan a day trip from St. Martin to St. Eustatius for outstanding scuba diving. If you’re fond of keeping your head above water or planning a half-day dive, there are activities to enjoy while keeping your feet on the ground.

After scuba diving, the most popular activity on St. Eustatius, is hiking The Quill. The Quill is a long-dormant, volcano. There is a well-marked, well maintained, trail, that ascends to the volcano’s rim, then winds down into the crater.

Walking to the trailhead from the airport will take over an hour, so if you want to save your legs for the main event, take a taxi to the trail’s start.
The hike up consists of switchbacks, making the difficulty level low.

At the top, admire the beautiful view, then meander your way to the crater floor. During the descent, the dry forest transforms into a tropical landscape.
Climbing out of the crater takes extra oomph.

It’s doable if you are in moderately good shape. Post hike, reward yourself with smoothies, and delicious, sandwiches, at Para Mia Café.

Next, head to The St. Eustatius Historical Foundation Museum. It’s small but packed with interesting exhibits and artifacts. For extra history fun, contact the museum before arriving, and book an island walking tour with Misha.
If you prefer to explore on your own, don’t miss the views from Fort Oranje, and capturing great pictures at the Synagogue Ruins. At sunset, find a table at the Ocean View Terrace, where the charismatic, Rene, serves up the best rum punch on the island, and a variety of tasty, Dutch and Caribbean, dishes.

After finishing your chicken cordon bleu, head back to the airport for a quick flight back to St. Maarten.

Read more about visiting St. Eustatius.

 

Tintamarre

Recommended by Patrick from Uncommon Caribbean

man paddle-boarding near beach on Tintamarre

Tintamarre may be small but it has a lot to offer – stunning beaches and interesting history!

Île Tintamarre is a stunning slice of the French West Indies found just two miles off the northeast coast of St. Martin in the St. Martin Nature Reserve. And at only .3 square miles, you might be surprised by the overabundance of history and natural wonders found on this tiny uninhabited island.

The most obvious reason to visit Tintamarre is for Baie Blanche, the island’s storybook white sand beach. Backed by rose-colored cliffs that perfectly catch the last rays of sunset, this is the beach of your dreams. Only made even better by what lies in its waters.

Beneath the crystal clear waves, sea turtles graze lazily, rays glide gracefully, and other sea life gathers in plentiful schools. It’s a snorkeler’s fantasy.

But the beach is just one of the things to do on a day trip from St. Martin to Tintamarre. For those who can tear themselves away from the sand, there’s history to explore. There’s an old airstrip that has the distinction of being the first one in the entire French West Indies.

There’s also a historic rail track (yes on this tiny island) and a deserted cotton plantation that used to belong to the king of Tintamarre.

Yes, you read that right! Flat Island, as it’s also known, had a king for a short time. It even had its own currency at one point. And that’s all just after colonists arrived.

There is no ferry between St. Martin and Tintamarre. If you’re interested in sampling the sandy shores and historic interior for yourself, book a tour with Caribbean Marines.

Read about more tour options to Tintamarre.

 

What is the Best Day Trip to St. Martin?

It’s hard to choose the best day trip because it depends on what you are looking for. Do you want the best beaches or are you looking to go hiking? Perhaps you want to go celebrity spotting?

The good news is that all these St. Martin day trips are amazing. I don’t think you will be disappointed no matter which one you choose.

Have you gone on any of these day trips from St. Martin?

-Anisa

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Expert Tips for a Day Trip from St. Martin

  • The day trip options from St. Martin are quite varied. When choosing one considering your budget and what you are interested in doing.
  • You will need your passport for all of the St. Martin day trips except Pinel Island.
  • Check out my beach packing list to help prepare for your trip.

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