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St. Martin

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Photo by Stefan Krasowski.

Considered one of the more affordable Caribbean islands, St. Martin offers plenty of beaches, water sports and ecotourism. Also known as St. Maarten, this island is split between France and the Netherlands. Part of the Antilles, the island has a small population of around 75,000, almost equally split between its two nations. It’s easily accessible from major U.S. cities with many direct or single layover flights, including Philadelphia.

The winter months are an ideal time to visit, with it being the dry season, through April. January is the rainiest of the winter months, seeing an average of 2.6 inches of rain. Temperatures range from the low 70s to the mid 80s during these months, which see an average of 10 hours of daylight.

Photo by Dave Herholz

Visitors can get in touch with nature by taking one of the 17 walking trails on the island or visit the nature reserve, covering over 7,500 acres. More adventurous souls can try zip lining at Loterie Farm, which has an adventure course. For those feeling less adventurous but still in want of a tranquil nature setting, sip on cocktails or dine on tapas at its TreeLounge.

Cupecoy Beach//Photo by Bruce Tuten.

For those looking to relax on beaches, there’s no shortage of spots. St. Martin boasts over 40 miles of beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Long Bay offers a quiet, uninterrupted stretch of beach. Red Bay, however, is one of the more popular beaches on the island, with somewhat pigmented sand, giving it a unique appeal. Dotted with restaurants, it offers a bit of everything. For those with children, try Friars’ Bay Beach, or Anse des Peres. The family-friendly destination has calm waters and a bit of music to end the evening.

Meander around town to get a feel for its lifestyle. The capitol city on the French side, Margiot, oozes European charm. Stroll around port and take in the views from Fort Louis, constructed in 1767, and the beautiful views below. There are also plenty of shops, including a waterfront produce market and bakeries.

Photo by Troy McKaskle.

Where to stay: Unwind at La Samanna Resort & Spa, which accommodates a modest number of 83 suites and villas, tropical gardens and a luxurious spa. For those seeking a more intimate experience, the Alamanda Hotel has just 42 rooms located on Orient Bay, with a vibrant, colorful exterior and easy beach access.

Don’t miss: Grand Case, with its exceptional cuisine; Pic Paradis, the highest part of the island, with gorgeous sweeping views; a stroll along the neighborhoods and beaches of Friar’s Bay.

Flight time: 4 hours
Airport: Princess Juliana International Airport
Currency: Euro
Language: Dutch, French
Cost: $5,565

For more information, visit St. Martin’s tourism website

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