Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the island of St. Martin has an unspoiled natural beauty. It’s a unique and captivating oasis full of surprises, but is St. Martin worth visiting on your next vacation?
Famous for its picturesque stretches of sandy beaches and turquoise waters, there is so much more to this island paradise shared by France and the Netherlands. It is the Mecca of Caribbean food, drawing foodies, gourmands, and adventurers to its sandy shores.
It’s an easy direct flight from DFW to SXM (Princess Juliana International Airport) on the Dutch side, making St. Martin a perfect island destination.
Is St. Martin Worth Visiting for Your Next Exoctic Getaway
If Paris is too far for your Francophile fix, try the French side of St. Martin. The tiny island nation seamlessly blends Caribbean-influenced flavors with a French twist.
You can still get flaky croissants and fine French cuisine to rival the best restaurants in France, but with added creole favorites of cod fritters and conch stew.
Flavorsome Cuisine Shines Against a Turquoise Water Backdrop
Saint Martin has declared 2022 the Year of Gastronomy.
The cuisine reflects the cultural tastes from all over the world. With its Creole, French, and African influences, it lives up to its reputation as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.”
Across the rolling emerald hills and iconic beaches, fine restaurants, and casual Creole lolos reflect the island’s cultural tastes and fusion of flavors.
Marigot and Fort Louis
The capital of the French side is Marigot, a gem cozied up alongside the bay of Marigot. On a hill overlooking the town are the ruins of Fort Louis, a fortification from colonial times dating to the 1700s. I climbed the stone steps to see the fort, but the panorama view of the sparkling blue water dotted with boats took my breath away!
After working up an appetite, my reward for the climb was a pastry from the best French patisserie in town and people-watching at an outdoor table.
The Marigot Market
At Marigot Market, you’ll find all the ingredients used in the island’s renowned dishes. Fresh seafood is sold in the market stalls. You’ll discover tropical fruit, plantains, and spices galore to give your cooking a Caribbean flavor.
And you simply cannot leave St. Martin without sampling some Guavaberry Rum, the legendary folk liqueur of St. Martin. The local elixir is made with wild guavaberries harvested from hills in the center of the island and aged up to two years.
We tried the traditional Caribbean classic breakfast of johnny cakes and salt fish at Sandy’s Creole Cuisine, a lolo near the Market. Lolos are casual open-air eateries offering affordable creole specialties. Johnny cakes are deep-fried cornmeal flatbread, and the shredded salt fish was sautéed with chopped vegetables, spices, and hot sauce. Mmm!
St Martin Beaches, Boating, and the Deep Blue Sea
If you love water and beaches, St. Martin is your place. The island has 37 idyllic beaches featuring white sand and azure water. What’s the fun of going to a tropical island if you don’t go out on the water? There are dozens of boat tours to choose from. But whatever you do, don’t miss the following three spots.
A bird rookery and coral reef, a popular spot for snorkeling among colorful schools of striped fish.
In the heart of a protected Marine Reserve, includes a designated snorkeling trail that will take you safely along the reef.
An uninhabited paradise where you can swim with sea turtles.
The village of Grand Case
The old fishing village of Grand Case has retained all its authenticity and preserved its colonial architecture.
The main street is lined with dozens of eateries. A gastronome’s delight, the combination of fine French dining and traditional creole lolos provides a wealth of dishes with a harmony of flavors and aromas.
Tantalize Your Taste Buds at the Gastronomie Festival
St. Martin has a rich culinary history, perfect for bringing together world-renowned chefs and burgeoning talent at its renowned Le Festival de la Gastronomie. Celebrating the cuisine of French St. Martin, the festival runs Nov. 11-22.
Both locals and visitors will gather to eat, drink, and be merry. Up to 80 participating restaurants, from simple to gourmet, are challenged to include a signature ingredient in their dishes.
Activities abound with beach-side cooking classes, musical performances, and cooking demonstrations.
I have always wanted to see how perfumers create the fragrances we wear. I finally got my chance at Tijon Parfumerie on St. Martin.
Learning what goes into making a scent was captivating. The experience of creating my personalized fragrance was exhilarating. Read all about my scent-sational adventure here.
Come for the island life, stay for the food.
So, when asking is St. Martin worth visiting? My answer is Yes! Saint Martin lives up to its coveted title as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Whether relaxing on a beach, enjoying the water, or sampling as many different cuisines as possible, you may never want to leave the island life.
Visit www.st-martin.org/us for more information about visiting St. Martin.