St. Martin/St. Maarten Water and Land Sports
The island’s beautiful, long stretches of beach and clear, warm waters make it a paradise for swimmers and water sports enthusiasts of all kinds, regardless of whether visitors choose the French or Dutch side.
The list of possibilities is seemingly endless in St. Martin / St. Maarten! Water-skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, and sunfish sailing can all be enjoyed in numerous locations.
In French St. Martin, water sports rentals are available in Marigot, Nettlé Bay, Friar's Bay, Anse Marcel, Orient Bay, offshore at Pinel Island, and in Le Galion. In Dutch St. Maarten, find water sports rentals at Simpson Bay Lagoon, Kimsha Beach, Mullet Beach and Great Bay.
Surfing beaches are found on the island's east coast at Petites Cayes, Le Galion, and Guana Bay, or on the west coast at Plum, Cupecoy and Mullet Bays. These areas are also popular with St. Martin / St. Maarten windsurfers and kite surfers. There's a surfing school at Le Galion and kite surfing instruction in Orient Bay.
The calm waters ringing the island’s shallow reefs and tiny coves are ideal for snorkeling. Gear can be rented at local hotels and dive shops. The waters around Orient Bay, Green Key, Ilet Pinel and Tintamarre on the French side have been classified as a regional underwater nature reserve, where sea life abounds and using spear guns is illegal. Snorkelers in Dutch St. Maarten will find the waters around Dawn Beach, Maho Bay and Mullet Bay particularly rewarding to explore.
Scuba diving can be enjoyed all around the entire island. Most diving is done from boats since many sites are some distance offshore. Types of diving include reef, wreck, night, cave, and drift dives; depth of dives average 15 - 20m (40-60 ft). The HMS Proselyte, sunk in Great Bay in the early 19th Century, is among the most popular dive sites in Dutch St. Maarten, where most dive operations are centered in Simpson Bay and Great Bay. French St. Martin dive sites in the northeast include Ilet Pinel (for good shallow diving), Green Key (a prolific barrier reef) and Tintamarre (for quiet coves and subsea geological faults). Along the north shore, Anse Marcel is also a good choice.
Land sports options are similar on both sides of the island. Most hotel tennis facilities are open to the public with advance reservations and payment of a fee, and there are also a number of public tennis clubs available. The 18-hole Mullet Bay golf course on the Dutch side is open to the public, although the area has never fully recovered from previous hurricanes.
There are horseback riding facilities on both the French and Dutch sides offering trail and beach rides. Bicycle and mountain bike rentals are available and local clubs organize rides and races. On and off-road ATV tours are available, or try a Segway ride through Phillipsburg. Go-carting is offered in Grand Case for drivers 7 years and older. Those who prefer exploring on two legs will find miles of hiking trails and can either go it alone or contact one of several companies offering guided hikes with a focus on local flora and fauna.
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