Two years after Hurricane Irma ripped through, the beaches of St. Martin is looking forward to a bustling season this year. While the duel-governed paradise may not reach pre-storm tourism levels this winter, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future. The spirit of the “Friendly Island” is as strong as ever, but it’s the luscious beaches that remain the island’s biggest advocate. If you’re thinking of exploring its lovely coastlines this year, we’ve picked a few favorites for the bucket list.
Pinel Island: St. Martin
A short ferry ride away from away from Mount Vernon on the French side, Pinel Island is known for its pristine sand and cartoonish sandbars. Spend the morning relaxing, wading, and feeling lucky before handpicking your spiny lobster out of the ocean for lunch. The snorkeling here at this beach is also a dream. Not a bad way to spend the day—especially for the vacationer looking to avoid large, noisy crowds.
Maho Beach: Sint Maarten
Considered a must-see by most folks, Maho Beach in St. Maarten backs right up to Princess Juliana International Airport, the island’s main airport on the Dutch side. Sip cold, cheap beer at Sunset Bar and Grill while international flights descend rapidly—sometimes frighteningly so—over your head, then take a dip in the ocean. Though suitable for family fun, Maho is known for its boisterous party vibe.
Mullet Bay: Sint Maarten
After a pitstop at Maho, make sure to check out Mullet Bay, a beautiful buttonhook-shaped beach a few short minutes down Rhine Road. Besides the obvious crystal blue water, the highlight here is the local snack bar, equipped with an outdoor smoker. The scrumptious aroma wafting over was too much to bear. But be sure to avoid a food coma though, because Mullet boasts some of the best waves on the island. Surfboards and bodyboards are available to rent.
Orient Bay: St. Martin
Orient Bay is the French side’s most popular destination, beach-wise. Though Irma caused catastrophic damage here, rebuilding is nearing completion. Chic bars, restaurants, and beach clubs span the almost-two-mile corridor of beachfront excellence. Take a long a walk, grab a mojito, and don’t let the fully nude sunbathers at Club Orient alarm you (it is tradition, after all). If you’re up to it, grab a chair at Club O and get into the spirit!