Saint Martin is a stunning and culturally-diverse Caribbean island. Uniquely, it’s split in half and is governed by two European countries.
The northern part, known as Saint-Martin, falls under French administration, and the southern half, Sint Maarten, is held by the Dutch.
Even though the island is rather small, you’ll feel like you’re in two different worlds as both French and Dutch influences inspire the island’s culture and lifestyle.
Regardless of which side you find yourself on, you’ll want to choose the best places and areas to spend your time.
There are many beautiful locations in Saint Martin with world-class resorts and hotels. On the Dutch side, check out Philipsburg, or if you prefer, there’s Marigot on the French side. Both offer various activities, gorgeous beaches, delicious restaurants, and laid-back beach bars to make your vacation amazing.
8 Best Places to Stay in Saint Martin
1. Dawn Beach
Dawn Beach is found in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten and is the perfect spot for nature lovers and those who like things on the quiet side.
There is still a lot to see and do, but the focus is less on bars and beach parties and more on enjoying the island’s natural beauty.
You can find a variety of watersports, including windsurfing. Since Dawn Beach is on the island’s east coast, it gets a lot more wind and has more waves to take advantage of.
If you’d rather relax and look at the water from afar, there’s always space on one of the soft sandy beaches that are less crowded than other beaches on the island.
If you choose to visit this tropical paradise, consider one of these hotels:
- Coral Beach Club Villas & Marina
- Princess Heights Condominiums
- Oyster Bay Beach Resort.
Cupecoy is close to Princess Juliana International Airport and easily accessible to cruise ship passengers, but don’t worry – it doesn’t feel crowded.
If you’re looking for a beach with soft sand and gentle waves, you will find it here in the western part of St. Maarten.
This area is famously LGBTQA+-friendly, hosting a ‘gay beach’ where everyone is welcome.
Cupecoy is a very chill and inclusive place, and while you won’t find a lot of live music or entertainment, you will find the perfect location to relax and rejuvenate.
Any one of the following hotels is excellent for unwinding and enjoying what Cupecoy has to offer:
- Sapphire Beach Club Resort
- The Morgan Resort Spa & Village
- Hotel Porto Cupecoy.
Marigot is one of the busiest places on the western side of Saint-Martin. It’s a lively area with colorful homes and businesses, a bustling market, and many restaurants and bars often packed with tourists and locals alike.
Fort Louis, Paradise Peak, and the American Tennis Academy are all in Marigot and can keep you busy during the day.
At night, you can visit one of the many restaurants for seafood and other local dishes. Two of the most unique eateries are Tropicana and Le Sous Marin.
If you plan to stay in or near Marigot, you’ll want to check out one of these hotels:
- Hotel Domotel
- Golfe Hotel
- Turquoise Shell Inn.
Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten, is at the island’s southern tip.
It’s a very busy part of the island due to its proximity to many attractions such as the Yoda Guy Movie Museum, The Boardwalk, Little Bay Beach, and the cruise port.
Multiple beach bars are right on the water’s edge, and many rent out beach chairs and umbrellas for visitors.
You can taste local beers, mixed drinks, and authentic cuisine at little beach dives throughout the town.
There are many hotels in Philipsburg, including:
- Little Bay Villa
- Holland House Beach Hotel
- Alicia’s Inn.
5. Maho Reef
Maho Reef is a great place to stay and visit if you love a lively, party atmosphere.
This area is also near the airport in St. Maarten, and beachgoers often line up to watch and take photos of planes landing.
Small bars and restaurants can be found throughout the town and usually bustle with live music and dancing.
Beach bars put on dance contests, games, and other beach activities to add excitement.
The beaches can also get packed, attracting a younger crowd and families.
Still, many people love the energy and atmosphere of Maho Reef and enjoy staying at these nearby hotels:
- Hommage Hotel & Residences
- Royal Islander Club La Plage
- Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa.
6. Grand Case
Grand Case is a small town on the northwestern side of Saint-Martin, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in personality.
It has a beautiful long sandy beach area that is perfect for relaxing. It’s an easy walk to the many bars and restaurants, where you will find the locals unwinding and taking a break just as often as tourists.
The warm blue waters, white, soft sand, and amazing views make this a fabulous place to spend a few hours, whether traveling with your family or a group of friends.
If this sounds like the ideal spot for you, I recommend staying at any of the following:
- Grand Case Beach Club
- Hotel L’Esplanade
- Bleu Emeraude.
Koolbai is a fairly new area of St. Maarten that was once more of an industrial area than a tourist destination.
Many new hotels, attractions, and neighborhoods have changed the location’s vibe, and now it’s a great place for visitors and locals alike. It’s not overly touristy, but it’s welcoming to newcomers.
Koolbai has live music and dive bars that give it a laid-back atmosphere. You can sit at the bar and feel like a regular, even if it’s your first time.
There are several cool places to check out, including the popular Red Piano Lounge, and there are many excellent hotels to choose from, including:
- Diamond Gem Residence
- Villa Ocean
- Lagoon Marina Apartments.
8. Simpson Bay
Simpson Bay is also a busy and popular location in St. Maarten, and while it attracts a lot of tourists, many locals are also very active here.
There are several resorts and private beaches, but the public beaches are just as nice.
One of the more appealing aspects of Simpson Bay is the entertainment occurring on the beach or in the many bars and small eateries on the waterfront.
You will find live music, DJs, fun games and activities, and a warm vibe that makes you feel welcome.
If you’re looking for accommodations in or near Simpson Bay, you won’t be disappointed with any of the following:
- Simpson Bay Resort, Marina & Spa
- Flamingo Beach Resort by Diamond Resorts
- Commodore Suites.
Saint Martin is a beautiful and unique island infused with both French and Dutch culture.
There are miles of gorgeous beaches with deep blue waters and soft white sand perfect for unwinding and soaking up the sun. You can take a break and enjoy a cold beer and a tasty snack without going too far from your perfect beach spot.
The island is also home to amazing watersports, breathtaking nature hikes, and exciting nightlife.
If you’re planning a trip to this stunning island, consider the type of experience you’re after. This will help you choose the best area and hotel for your Caribbean vacation.