I enjoy hiking because it is a great way to exercise while experiencing nature’s beauty. Plus, hikes can have different intensity levels, so it can be a good activity even if you are not athletic. In St. Martin, the mountainous terrain and gorgeous beaches make for a perfect hike. You don’t have to choose between the two! We had gone hiking in St. Martin on our last trip and enjoyed it so much, we decided to do it again. Let me share the details so that you can have your own St. Maarten hiking adventure.
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Preparing for a Hike in St. Maarten
As I’ve learned from previous experience, it is always important to be prepared for a hike. It is hard to know how difficult a hike will be as everyone’s assessment of difficulty level can vary. You should always bring water and a few snacks just in case. And in warmer locations, I recommend freezing the water so that it will stay cold. So when we were hiking in St. Martin, we bought sparkling water and the freezing trick worked well. Also, I would recommend starting your hike as early as possible, as it will get warmer the later you go.
If your hike goes to a beach, like the St. Martin hiking we did, you should also bring a towel or something to brush off the sand. Men can easily hike in a t-shirt and bathing suit (swimming trunks for our UK readers), but for women, it may be more comfortable to wear a sports bra. This can double as a bathing suit depending on how badly you want to get in the water. Depending on your skin sensitivity, you should take into consideration the possibility you could chafe when hiking after a swim.
It is also important to wear proper footwear – not flip-flops or barefoot (yes I have seen this) – to help prevent injury. I usually hike in sneakers but if you have hiking boots that is even better. It should go without saying that you should also bring your cell phone/camera. It is also important to have a hiking partner, just in case something happens, to keep you company, help you carry stuff, and of course take pictures of you. Lastly, the best way to carry supplies is in a backpack, so that you have your hands free and you will not be off balance by carrying weight on one side. Additionally, if you are going through an area with a narrow path, the backpack can sit snugly up against your body.
St. Martin Hike to Anse Marcel
We decided to attempt the hike to Anse Marcel beach, which we had tried on our last trip to St. Martin. I would classify it as a moderately difficult St. Maarten hiking trail. There are times where you will need to use your hands to make sure you don’t lose your balance on large steps, but there are some flat parts also. Last time we were not properly prepared and we got a late start, so it got hot and we ran out of water so we had to turn around before we got to the beach. We learned our lesson, so this time we came with frozen water, snacks, sunblock, and bug spray all packed in a backpack and parked the car about 7:30 am.
The first part of the St. Martin hiking trail is a little boring – it’s wide and flat like a dirt road almost. There is a nice view of the hotel, boats, and water through the brush. Almost a mile in is where the real hike starts. It is rocky and narrow with some steep inclines and declines. The trail is well marked with white dashes, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. There were lots of interesting plants and some signs along the way describing them. We also saw some crabs (yes even when we were high up) and ran into some spider webs. At some points, there were some breathtaking views, so we took occasional breaks to have a drink and snap a picture.
When we arrived on the first beach we stumbled upon a couple who were almost hiding in the bushes but other than that the beach was empty. We continued to walk along the rocky part of the beach so that we could see what was around the corner. There was another beach but it was all rocks, so we decided to turn around at that point because we felt the first beach was the highlight. Once we got back to the first beach we decided to go for a little swim. The waves were fairly rough so I just put my feet in, while Katherine went for a swim. Then we dried off and brushed the sand off and headed back to the car. All in all, it took us about 3 hours.
Lunch Time Treat in Marigot
As we had done the previous year, we went to Marigot for lunch. We love La Belle Epoque, which is a French place located by the smaller marina (not the one that the ferry to Anguilla leaves from). The portions there, as in many other restaurants in St. Martin, are great for sharing. Our favorite dish is the beef tartare, which was nice and refreshing after the hike. We will provide more St. Martin dining tips in a later post as there are lots of great options here.
Directions to the Trailhead
To get to the hike, you can park at the Anse Marcel Beach Resort Hotel (on the Northeast part of St. Martin) and just walk a little bit up the hill to the trailhead. Look for the signs that say “Froussards” and you will also see a St. Maarten hiking trail map.
Other Hikes in St. Martin
In addition to the hike to Anse Marcel, there are a few other hikes you might enjoy in St. Martin.
When we were at Friar’s Bay Beach, we saw some people who were walking over a hill at the far end of the beach. We had read that there was another nearby beach nearby, and after consulting with some other tourists, we decided to give it a try. We had seen some people walk barefoot so we figured how hard can it be? Since, we had not planned on doing a hike, the only shoes we had were flip flops.
The beginning of the hike does start out a little bit steep, but then the rest is relatively flat until a decline to the beach. The ground does have a lot of rocks so we really would not recommend doing this without shoes and we wished we had better shoes than flip flops. We had to walk slowly to make sure we didn’t slip or twist an ankle. It took us about ten minutes to walk to Happy Bay, and there were beautiful views along the way. Happy Bay was a nice beach that was pretty quiet with a nice protected bay. While there are some bars and restaurants at Friar’s Bay Beach, there are no facilities at Happy Bay Beach.
Pic Paradise is supposed to be a beautiful hike, but I have heard the area is not safe. If you decide to do this hike, make sure you do not bring any valuables. As an alternative, you can hike from Loterie farm, but there is a small fee.
You can see the ruins of Fort Louis up on the hill from Marigot. You can hike the whole way up for amazing views or there is a parking lot about half way up.
Have you had any St. Martin adventures? If you do end up hiking in St. Martin, especially if you went farther than we did, we would love to hear what you thought.
Expert Tips for St. Maarten Hiking
- Be prepared when going for a hike, bring a backpack, water, snacks, sunscreen, towel, and bug spray and always hike with a partner.
- Freeze the water and start early for hikes in warmer climates.
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