St. Martin’s an island with many different sides, and I’m not just talking about the whole French and Dutch thing. Even within that dichotomy, there’s plenty of great areas for you to discover, and though we suggest renting a car so you can explore them all, ultimately you have to choose one to actually stay in. Here’s our guide to finding the perfect place to rent your St. Martin villa:
Which Side is Better to Stay in St Martin?
Both the French and the Dutch sides of St Martin have their own relative advantages and distinctive neighbourhoods. On both sides you’ll find neighbourhoods that are calm, busy, family-friendly, party-focussed, and everything in between. That said, if you’re looking to enjoy that distinctive French atmosphere, love French culture, or want to stay in the calmest parts of the island, then choose the French side. If, on the other hand, you want to be close to the island’s hottest nightlife and the best shopping, then choose the Dutch side.
With that said, let’s take a deeper dive into the best neighbourhoods on both sides of the island.
Best Places to Stay in St Martin: French Side
Staying in Terres Basses
Terres Basses is a gated community on the northeastern side of the island that’s close to Princess Juliana Airport and all the action of Simpson Bay. During the day, though, this calm, relaxing strip of the island is about as far from Simpson Bay as you can get. The beaches – Plum Bay, Baie Rouge, and Baie Longue – are all quiet and family-friendly, and just walking around and enjoying the views and homes is a delight.
Pros of Staying in Terres Basses
- Home to some of St. Martin’s most luxurious villas
- Safe and quiet neighbourhood
- Some French restaurants
Cons of Staying in Torres Basses
- Few bars or nightlife
- Rental car is recommended to get around
Terres Basses is Best For:
- Families with older children
- Couples looking to relax
Terres Basses Villa Pick:
6 bedrooms, 6+1 bath
Located on the edge of Base Rouge Beach, Villa L’Oasis evokes the best of oceanfront living with its clean lines, Mediterranean architecture, Caribbean decor, rich materials, and host of amenities, including a full fitness room, an infinity pool peering out over the sea, and a full staff including a private chef. In other words, it has everything you need for a truly unforgettable holiday.
Staying in Orient Bay
In contrast to Terres Basses, Orient Bay is one of the most exciting places to stay in St. Martin. It’s home to the hippest beach on the island, with lots of gorgeous people mingling and enjoying its decidedly European atmosphere, its trendy restaurants and beach bars, its famous nude beach, and its surprisingly great snorkelling. If you love boat charters, then Orient Bay’s also a great launching point for visiting nearby Anguilla or St. Barths. Villas can be rented within walking distance to the beach, or uphill in the Jardins D’Orient (Orient Village), a gated community with amazing views.
Pros of Staying in Orient Bay
- Best nightlife on the French side
- Lots of great restaurants
- Fun and lively atmosphere
Cons of Staying in Orient Bay
- Busier than other neighborhoods
- Can be louder at night
- Less privacy
Orient Bay is Best for:
- Groups of young adults
Orient Bay Villa Pick:
4 bedrooms, 4 bath
Set within the gated community of Parc de la Baie Orientale and just a short drive to all the action of Grande Case, Beauvoir offers a perfect mix of convenience and location. Its cathedral-style ceilings and open concept give it an easy, breezy vibe, while its three decks, including a massive wooden pool deck, give you all the opportunities you need to relax, unwind, and take in the beautiful ocean views.
Staying in Anse Marcel
Located on the island’s northernmost tip, Anse Marcel is known for its natural beauty and calm waters. It has some of the best views on the island, including of Angola, Tintamarre Island, and Pine Island. The water’s especially calm and shallow as well, making it a great place for kids to splash around, and in general the area has a relaxing, upscale atmosphere that families are sure to love.
Pros of Staying in Anse Marcel
- Amazing views
- Calm, upscale vibe
- Beautiful, protected beaches
Cons of Staying in Anse Marcel
- Limited shopping, dining, and nightlife
- Distance to other parts of the island
Anse Marcel is Best for:
- Families with young children
- Nature lovers
Anse Marcel Villa Pick:
7 bedrooms, 7+1 bath
A large, split-level villa with floor-to-ceiling windows and immaculate landscaping nestled in the hills of Anse Marcel, Caye Blache is a perfect choice for multigenerational groups thanks to its variety of bedroom configurations, modern amenities, and its distinct sense of style.
Best Places to Stay in St Maarten: Dutch Side
Staying in Dawn Beach
Dawn Beach, on the east coast of the Dutch side, is a great all-around beach for swimming, snorkelling, and lounging, though do be aware that it does have more waves than other beaches since it faces the Atlantic. It’s also home to the Westin Resort and Casino, a popular night spot, as well as to Philipsburgh, which is convenient but can lead to crowds when cruise ships dock.
Pros of Staying in Dawn Beach
- Convenient location
- Lots of oceanfront villas
- Great swimming and snorkelling
Cons of Staying in Dawn Beach
- Can get crowded at times
- Less private than other options
Dawn Beach is Best for:
- Multigenerational families
- Groups of couples
Dawn Beach Villa Pick:
5 bedrooms, 5+1 bath
With stunning views of St Barts and a Zen-like atmosphere within the gated Dawn Beach estates, Sky Blue creates the perfect ambiance for your own private Sint Maarten retreat. And with beautiful ocean views from every bedroom and a modernist, sensual design, it’s a perfect choice for a group of couples travelling together.
Staying in Cupecoy/Maho
Aside from Mullet Bay, Cupecoy’s beaches are quite a bit rockier than others on the island, so the beach is not the primary reason to stay here. That honour goes to nearby Maho and the rest of Simpson Bay, which is where most of the island’s casinos and nightlife can be found. Maho Beach is also where people get those shots of planes landing near their heads on the beach, though be aware that they don’t usually photograph the aftermath, which is comparable to a mild sand storm.
Pros of Staying in Cupecoy
- Lots of nightlife and action
- Plenty of dining and shopping
- Central to the rest of the island
Cons of Staying in Cupecoy
- Can be busier/more crowded
- Less of a relaxing atmosphere
Cupecoy is Best for:
- Groups of singles
- Individual couples
Cupecoy Villa Pick:
3 bedrooms, 3 bath
Featuring direct access to Cupecoy beach, Bahari is one of the rare beachfront villas that’s also ideally located to all the fun and excitement of Maho, though that will seem like a world away as you gaze out over the sea from your private infinity pool.
Staying in Pelican Key
To the south of the island, and moving closer to the Dutch capital of Phillipsburg, Pelican Key is popular for its snorkelling and sandy beach, while also being close to the shopping, dining, and entertainment options of Simpson Bay. It has a much more residential feel compared to Cupecoy, though, making it a great option for those who want to be close to, but not necessarily in the middle of, all the action.
Pros of Staying in Pelican Key
- Easy access to great beaches
- Convenient location
- Lots of oceanfront villas
Cons of Staying in Pelican Key
- Less nature
- Can be less private
Pelican Key is Best for:
- Multigenerational groups
- Groups celebrating events
Pelican Key Villa Pick:
7 bedrooms, 8+1 bath
Conveniently located and supremely stylish, Bella Vita offers exceptional views and privacy from its privileged hilltop location, while still being close to the action of Simpson Bay. This is what Pelican Key is all about.
Where’s the Best Place to Stay in St Martin for you?
Here’s a quick recap of the best places to stay in St Martin for different travellers:
- For multigenerational groups: Dawn Beach, Pelican Key
- For families with young children: Anse Marcel, Pelican Key
- For families with older children: Terres Basses, Dawn Beach
- For special events: Terres Basses, Pelican Key
- For couples: Dawn Beach, Cupecoy
- For relaxation: Terres Basses,Anse Marcel
- For convenience: Pelican Key, Cupecoy
- For nightlife: Cupecoy and Orient Bay
As you can see, every neighbourhood in St Martin offers its own advantages, which is a big reason why this island is so diverse, regardless of which side you choose. Still wondering where the best place to stay in St Martin is for you? Speak to one of our villa specialists today, and they’ll be happy to provide you with the best options for your dates and group.