The Caribbean’s sunny sweetheart of St. Martin is an island of many facets and talents, beloved by winter escapees for its winning mix of 37 beautiful beaches, tantalizing cuisine, and charming colonial character. Yet, St. Martin has also won ardent admirers, of late, for its offering of natural excursions.
Far from being the stereotypical “desert island”, it is a verdant paradise of underwater reefs, rolling green hills, and scenic summits. A charming, scenically-beautiful island, St. Martin is the smallest territory to be shared between two nations (France and The Netherlands), and home to over a hundred different nationalities and cultures.
Surrounded by both the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, this small 88 square kilometer island is a paradise for beach lovers. Being the undisputed capital of gastronomy, St. Martin not only offers a blend of traditional French cuisine, but as well, innovative gourmet cuisine from around the world.
With its lavish, unspoiled landscapes and idyllic beaches, St. Martin embodies the true spirit of vacation. This “Friendly Island’’, as it’s often referred to, is bursting with treasures for gourmets, hikers, adventures and dreamers alike. From hotels to resorts to boutique properties to beautiful villas, St. Martin’s hilly topography ensures beautiful views from the hills as well as on its beautiful shores.
Its vibrant setting and tropical climate, pleasantly-cooled by trade winds year-round, make this island your ideal destination, whether you wish to relax, explore or get active, alone, with a loved one, family or friends. You’ll find all the right ingredients, from an unforgettable stay on one of the most enchanting islands of the Caribbean.
If you’re interested in getting to know the wild side of St. Martin, we’ve picked out three of the first places you’ll want to check out. Pack your hiking boots, fill your picnic basket, and read on for some itinerary inspiration.
Reserve Naturelle: good for nature lovers and hikers of all experience and fitness levels
The National Nature Reserve of St. Martin, the Reserve Naturelle (as it is known to the island’s French-speaking populace) covers over 3000 hectares of nationally-managed land and sea in Northeastern St. Martin, including the smaller islands of Pinel and Tintamarre.
The Reserve boasts a stunning assortment of natural scenery and abundant protected wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, iguanas, and seabirds. Beyond access through tours or snorkelling excursions, one of the best ways to experience the Reserve is on a hike through one of its four Discovery Trails; each offering a glimpse of a different ecosystem.
A hike through the mangroves of Barrière pond, for example, will get you up close and personal with the beautiful endemic birds who make the area their home. On Pinel, guests can hike a 1.5km trail that connects all three beaches of the islet, providing a fascinating introduction to the Reserve’s coastal vegetation. Experienced hikers should head to Froussard’s Trail, which covers 4.5km of intact coastal forest, the last of its kind on St. Martin.
Loterie Farm: good for adventure lovers and families
A private nature sanctuary encompassing 135 acres, Loterie Farm truly has it all. From hiking and ziplining in the forest canopy to an onsite pool, bar, and restaurant, Loterie is equipped to provide a full day’s worth of fun to visitors of every sensibility and preference.
A self-guided hike through the reserve’s tropical forest allows guests to choose their own adventure: canvassing the entirety of the well-marked trail takes just under two hours, but hikers are free to make their own way. The various ruins, lookouts, and springs found within Loterie’s shaded expanse make for perfect picnic destinations.
Of course, if you forgot to pack a lunch, Loterie has you covered: the Jungle Room serves up Caribbean staples, realized with fresh, local ingredients and paired with a relaxed, open-air ambiance. No single-day itinerary ever looks quite the same at Loterie Farm: repeat visits are the only way to experience everything this incredible locale has to offer.
Fort Louis: good for sightseers, novice hikers and history buffs
As a product of its colonial history, St. Martin is home to a handful of historic naval forts. Among these venerable bastions of weathered stone and rusted cannons, Marigot Bay’s Fort Louis enjoys a particularly sterling reputation as a day trip destination.
Originally built in the 18th century to protect Marigot from pirates, the lack of modern-day swashbuckling has seen the Fort evolve with the times. Now, Fort Louis is one of the most popular hiking spots on the island, enticing visitors with its 360-degree overlook of St. Martin’s crystal waters.
It’s only a short jaunt up the hill to access this incredible view, and the brief journey is an engaging one: you’ll walk amidst the ruins of the fort as you follow the path to the summit. A breathtaking panorama awaits you at the top of this gentle climb and on a clear day, one can even see the neighbouring island of Anguilla.