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Half French and half Dutch, St Martin (or Sint Maarten) offers lots of nightlife, duty free shopping and a laid back atmosphere.
The French side of the island is less developed than the Dutch and has wonderful beaches, many excellent restaurants and a distinctly cosmopolitan atmosphere. You’ll find all manner of watersports here with surfing, windsurfing and sailing particular popular with the locals. The capital, Marigot, is a shopper’s paradise and the West Indies Mall on the waterfront features many well-known designer boutiques.
Out and About
These are definitely islands where you come to relax more than to expect a wide range of things to do. However, here are some suggested activities:
• Explore historic Fort Louis in Marigot, the French capital.
• Climb to the top of Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island - the views are stunning.
• Visit the butterfly farm at Le Galion.
• Shop till you drop in the duty free capital of the Caribbean.
Food and Drink
Like all the Caribbean islands, freshly caught seafood is one of the great pleasures of coming here. But the French West Indies is unique, as you’ll also enjoy the best of French cuisine. They still regularly fly in foie gras, oysters and other delicacies from France. The choice of restaurants in both St Barths and St Martin is excellent.
Cuisine is predominantly French but with some Italian and Creole. We recommend that you ask when you’re there to find out the latest ‘in’ place. LeToiny in St Barths serves exquisite food, while the Carl Gustav bar is great for cocktails. Our favourite is the Tapas Bar at Eden Rock. The hip place for lunch is Niki Beach, whilst dinner is a treat at Ti St Barths and L’Esprit. In St Martin, The Restaurant at La Samanna serves delicious French and Caribbean cuisine and L’Auberge Gourmande offers a classic French menu and fine wines. There is also excellent local seafood and barbecued fish, particularly in Grand Case.
The most convenient route to St Martin is via Antigua, with an onward scheduled flight connection with LIAT or Windward Island Airways. Flying time to both islands is approximately 45 minutes from Antigua.
Windward Island Airways operates regular flights between St Barths and St Martin (flying time is 15 minutes) and there is also a ferry service between the islands, making this an ideal twin centre.
Half BoardFull BoardOn the West CoastDramatic clifftop locationElegant La Reserve restaurant
Celebrate Bastille Day with a Caribbean twist! On the 14th July every year, St Barths commemorates the storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution. This tiny French outpost celebrates France’s most important national holiday with a spectacular firework display and dancing on the Quai Général de Gaulle in the capital, Gustavia.