The Best Daytrips from St. Maarten
Our favorite part is how easy it is to explore other islands after landing here: Although connecting or charter flights can be arranged (sometimes they’re seasonal-only and very expensive), travelers looking to save money -- and even plan last minute -- should opt for boat transfers instead. Here are our top picks for a daytrip for:
It’s an understatement to call Saba a remote retreat -- the island has less than 2,000 permanent residents. Saba is best known for world-class diving around coral formations and underwater mountains formed by volcanic activity. In fact, the entire island is actually the top of a dormant volcano, so it’s great for mountain treks, too. The cheapest and quickest way to get a taste of Saba is to take a morning boat from St. Maarten and return on the afternoon one for $80 roundtrip per person. If you’re looking to spend a night or two, it’s slightly more to travel roundtrip on different days: $110-$116. The total boat journey is about 1.5 hours each way.
Saint Barthélemy -- otherwise known as St. Bart’s -- is a destination often found in glossy magazines next to bolded names. While travel in winter is notoriously expensive, with celebrities’ mega-yachts filling the harbor, even the non-famous (or non-hotel-guests) can visit the island’s first hotel, Eden Rock, to rent a beach chair or dine at Jean-Georges’ Sand Bar, and shop the boutiques of Gustavia. The island is accessible from both the French and Dutch sides of St. Maarten -- it’s $70 roundtrip (per person) to go there and back in the same day, or $90-$120 roundtrip for longer stays. The total boat journey is about 30-45 minutes each way.
Anguilla falls somewhere between the natural, unspoiled beauty of Saba and the glam factor of St. Bart’s. Home to many private villas and a handful of 5-star resorts (including Zemi Beach, Malliouhana and the Four Seasons), the island is slow-paced, with amazing, oft-empty beaches like Shoal Bay East, Meads Bay, Rendevous Bay and Sandy Ground, just to name a few. Then, when night falls, the energy picks up at Dune Preserve, the place to be for live music. The island is accessible by a “fast ferry” -- actually a speedboat with complimentary drinks -- found right by the St. Maarten airport, or a public ferry from Marigot. Both trips take about 20 minutes, but the fast ferry can be booked in advance for a guaranteed spot for $80-$90 roundtrip for same-day return and $129-$165 roundtrip for longer visits. The public ferry is $40 roundtrip for same-day or different-day trips.
Depending on the destination, ferries leave from Philipsburg’s Great Bay Marina, Simpson Bay or SXM Airport on the Dutch side; Marigot Ferry Terminal on the French side; and Oyster Pond Marina in between the two. In most cases, these can easily be booked upon arrival -- to search ferry prices and routes by destination, click here. There are additional departure taxes and security fees that are not included for both daytrips ($8-$13) or when leaving permanently ($23-$28).