Every couple needs a romantic getaway now and again. If you have kids, chances are you are long overdue for one. My husband and I haven’t taken a trip without our daughter since she was born more than two years ago. With both our families living in other states, it’s difficult to get away sans kid, so we bring her with us wherever we go. With that said, we too are long overdue for an adults-only vacation.
While there are plenty of romantic places worth visiting in the world, in an attempt to avoid being cliche, I’m not writing about Paris, Venice, or Bora Bora. Sure, those places are all hot spots for lovers but they’re expensive, and if you live in the United States, they’re also far away… too far away for a romantic weekend getaway. Instead, I’d argue the perfect island for a romantic getaway is just a quick flight away to the island of St. Maarten.
We visited this beautiful island in 2012 when we first got married. While we’ve traveled all over the planet, St. Maarten remains one of the most romantic vacation spots we’ve ever been. It could be the nostalgia and sentimental feelings I get when I think of St. Maarten because we honeymooned there, but it truly is a beautiful and romantic island.
About St. Maarten-Saint Martin
The island is broken up into two small countries: St. Maarten and Saint Martin. One is a Dutch settlement, the other French. The language, currency and overall feel of the two countries are completely different.
On the Dutch side, they speak English and Dutch and use the American dollar. On the French side, they speak French, use the Euro, and sunbath nude on the beaches. You’ll also find some pretty amazing crepes! Traveling between the two countries is easy and chances are you’ll barely realize you’re in a new country. You do not have to go through customs or show a passport, or pay any type of entrance fee. It’s as easy as driving from one US state to another.
Where to stay in St. Maarten
We stayed on the Dutch side at the charming Divi Little Bay Resort. The resort is well maintained and right on the water. It was incredibly peaceful and romantic to go to sleep and wake up each day to the sound of the ocean right outside our door. The staff is friendly, there are a couple of restaurants within the resort, and it is in walking distance to the town of Philipsburg. They also have entertainment during the evening and a resident parrot that preferred my husband over me.
What to do in St. Maarten/Saint Martin
The tiny island surprisingly has a lot to do. We were able to keep ourselves entertained for a week, and we left wanting more.
St. Maarten is an island, which means it’s surrounded by the ocean and the beaches are beautiful. The water is clear and calm, and there is great snorkeling in Divi Little Bay. In fact, several snorkeling tour operators on the island take their guests to this bay for snorkeling, so if you’re staying at the resort, use the free snorkeling gear provided, and save yourself the cost of a snorkeling excursion.
Stroll through Philipsburg
All of the cruise ships that dock in St. Maarten dock in Philipsburg, so the town can be quite busy when a ship comes in. We were fortunate enough to visit the island during low season, and the town was basically empty. There are lots of little tourist shops and restaurants that line the beach and main streets. We felt safe the entire time we were there… except when a drug dealer tried to sell us cocaine in an alleyway… there was that.
Plane Watch at Maho Beach
This is probably the coolest thing about the island and likely its number one claim to fame. There is no other place in the world where you can sit on a beach while massive airplanes fly dangerously low overhead as they come in for a landing. It truly is a cool experience. You can feel the strong gust as the jets depart and arrive at the small airport on the island. It will blow your towel, your belongings and possibly you across the beach. There are even warning signs on the fence separating the runway from the beach alerting travelers of potential harm. It is not your typical relaxing day at the beach. This is a bit more action-packed.
Check out the naked people at Orient Bay
After a week on an island filled with nude beaches, even the most bashful person gets curious… So what better way to stir up romance than to go where clothing isn’t necessary. 🙂 This was my first experience at a nude beach. As an American raised in the conservative south, nude beaches aren’t a thing where I come from. In fact, as a teenager, I got in trouble if I even attempted to bare a mid-drift, so walking along a beach with a bunch of strangers who were baring it all was a bit… eye-opening.
I wish I could tell you that our newlywed selves stripped down and joined the naked crowd, but we weren’t that uninhibited. We visited the nude beach at Orient Bay but kept our bathing suits on. Not everyone on the beach is naked, either. It’s a clothing optional beach, so you’ll find plenty of other people who will ultimately leave the island with tan lines, too.
Out of respect for the naked people, I did not take any pictures at this beach. 🙂
Visit the French town of Marigot
The capital city of Saint Martin, Marigot, is a great place to spend a day shopping, exploring, and savoring some yummy French food. It’s just a short drive from the Dutch side and is a lovely town. It definitely has more of a foreign feel than Philipsburg, where businesses accept US dollars and the people speak English. In Margiot, French is widely spoken, although most everyone can also speak enough English to help tourists. We found a lovely open air cafe that had a wide variety of French pastries, crepes, desserts and breads. It was a great place to sit, relax, and people watch.
Have a guava berry rum and relax
Speaking of relaxing, when you’re on an island, you should be on island time! That means relax, take things slow, don’t over plan your day, and just enjoy the cool vibes, good food, and tropical drinks. In St. Maarten, my favorite tropical drink was called a Guava Berry Rum. It is a frozen pink drink that probably had a million calories, and it was worth every one of them! It was the tastiest frozen drink I’ve ever had. Just thinking of that calorie filled concoction makes me want to hop on a plane tomorrow and head back to St. Maarten.
It’s been almost 5 years since we visited this wonderful paradise, and we hope to go back someday soon. Perhaps we will take our daughter… or perhaps we won’t. As I mentioned earlier, we are long overdue for an adults-only vacation!