The Island is distinctly and geographically of two sides. St. Martin French Side / St. Marteen Dutch Side.
We booked this trip about 10 days before spring break. I plan out our destinations (in my head) usually a year in advance (again only in my brain!) we had intended to go to San Frank, Santa Barbara and LA after the Seder(s). However, after our DC trip my husband and I decided maybe a little R&R would be better than trying to cram in Cali in 8 days. So we set off on St. Marteen and booked a Jet Blue Getaway package which I HIGHLY recommend. They have great destinations and properties to choose from and a great points reward advantage. www2.jetblue.com/vacations/.
Now if you are the type of family that does not like to deviate from staying at your resort all day and deciding between the pool and the beach and having lunch at the hotel property then perhaps St. Marteen/ St. Martin may not be your favorite destination. You can do that of course but upon all my research I learned that the beauty of traveling to SXM (as the locals refer as I will in this blog post) is traveling to the many different gorgeous beaches that make up the Island of SXM. Most people traveling to SXM such as us rent a car and travel around the island "beach hopping". So we rented a car and visited a different beach each day we were there. Most beaches have roped off area (perfect for kids) and have restaurants/ beach chair accommodations. We stayed at the Westin Dawn Beach on the Dutch side of the Island. Hotel review - the hotel was very nice and clean staff was extremely accommodating and the concierge was extremely knowledgeable and always a plus in my book! Next time I think this is a wonderful destination to rent a house especially since traveling to see different areas not necessary to use all the amenities of a resort.
Our Family Favorite Pinel Island. To get to Pinel there is a ferry (which is really just a small boat). The Ferry Leaves leaves from the Colt de Sac on the French side of the island every 1/2 hour from 9-4 daily. Pinel truly is paradise. Not too crowded or too big. Lots of kids running around it truly feels like you are on a small inlet of paradise. It is certainly not to be missed. Have concierge rent chairs and make reservations at one of the restaurants.
Yellow Bar - +590 590 77-1500
Lunch -We ate at www.karibunipinel.com which was phenomenal.
The end of the day was topped off which an Ice Cream boat! What could be better than ice cream delivered straight to you while IN the beach?!
**Note**water sports equipment available however you must rent them BEFORE leaving for Pinel on the French side. We had planned on paddle boarding there that day which would have been perfect spot for it but our concierge was not aware.
My other favorite (maybe more for the adults though) was Ansel Marcel. This was not our kids second choice as they said the beach was rocky. They still managed to have a great day especially after we went tubing. Again our concierge had made us reservations and rented chairs at the hotel beach club at AM. The restaurant / hotel was gorgeous. I imagine it to be what the places in St barts must be like with their teak wood tables and decor. We had an incredible gorgeous lunch there as well. One complaint for the kids was the beach was a bit rocky. They had great water sports available that day. While being very child friendly Anse Marcel is a great hotel to have that long weekend couples trip as well.
While dining at the unforgettable L'auberge de Gourmande in Grand Case the previous night the proprietor Pascal recommended this beach and beach club. After such an incredible dining experience for ALL (yes including the kids) we knew we could not go wrong. We did not rent chairs or make a reservation at the restaurant that day and the staff were accommodating and wonderful. This beach was a little bit smaller less kids and people but the kids loved it. The hotel has also has an excursion and water sports counter there as well. We once again ate a delicious and very fresh lunch at the beach club restaurant.
For our last full day we debated which beach to go to. With so many options to choose from narrowing it down was a challenge. Upon reviews and suggestions as a "must do" we set upon Maho Beach (Airport Beach) having been told we must see the planes fly low while on the beach. Ummmm... well we found it to be a "a must NOT do". After a 1/2 hour or so drive we turned around..there is a tiny area to lye out , no chairs (or very few) and no umbrellas , it is terribly crowded . No I am not THAT fancy but one thing I do prefer are beach chairs. The planes yeah... didn't do it for us. It was so loud my daughter was freaking we could not get away fast enough.
So we then opted for a nearby beach Mullet Beach. Mullet bay is a bit more of how shall I say "authentic beach" with no beach club/ hotel. Chair rentals are available and umbrellas. They do have a bar and two barbecue type of casual restaurants with include many good kids choices of food for kids. snorkeling equipment is available which my son did there they have lots of fish to see at Mullet Beach. But wait...oh ..the bathrooms PORTO POTTIES which is just not "OK" for me. (Ever since Jazz Fest in NOLA many many years ago) I just have issues with porto potties. End of story. I usually tend to be pretty laid back really... I can go out gross and sandy and make the best of most situations but if the PP is stinky I am outta there!!!! Unfortunately for us the weather was not great on our last day so we ended up back near Maho Beach for a late lunch since a bathroom break was well needed.
We ended up going back to sunset cafe where we were meant to have lunch for a late day snack and saw some of the planes take off and land. Sunset beach is a huge restaurant w a DJ. It's kind of like the SXM version of the Jersey Shore.