8 iconic St. Martin experiences you won’t want to miss
From decadent eats to thrilling sights—here’s a roundup of the most unique attractions on “The Friendly Island”
St. Martin, a charming, friendly island in the Caribbean—is known for its unique fusions of art and culture. With 37 beaches scattered across just 37 square miles, next-level cuisine, and buzz-worthy hotspots, this island is full of unique activities and experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.
Here are 8 things you absolutely need to do next time you visit St. Martin:
Sample a Journey Cake
St. Martin is an island filled with many traditions and one of the most delicious is the famous Journey cake. This savoury, doughy snack was historically prepared by women for their husbands before they left for work and was meant to be enjoyed during their journey there. Over the years, it began sounding more and more like “Johnnycake” and is now referred to by either name. Enjoy it either fried or baked, on its own or with different spreads or soups. Think of it like a warm and flaky flatbread that you’ll want to eat with every meal.
Make your own perfume
A signature scent is a deeply personal souvenir and it’s even more memorable when you create it yourself. Tijon is a well-established parfumerie located in the French region of Grande Case which allows customers to create their own custom fragrances. With guidance from professional staff and an explanatory notebook in hand, participants are able to mix up their own scent by choosing from an arsenal of over 300 oils. Bonus: you get to wear a lab coat while measuring your fragrant oils in beakers.
Relax at Loterie Farm
Don’t be misled by its name—Loterie Farm is the furthest thing from a rustic farm. While the land was historically occupied by a sugar plantation, LA-bred William Jordan (BJ) Welch invested in the lot in 1995 and over 10 years, completely transformed it into a lush oasis. The once-deserted piece of land now houses a sustainable tropical forest with a natural spring water-fed pool and jacuzzi, along with an array of outdoor activities including hiking and ziplining (both beginner and extreme). It’s the ultimate destination for both thrill-seekers and pool loungers.
Shop the boutiques in Marigot
Enjoy the cobbled streets of colourful Marigot, with a wide selection of stores and French-inspired boutiques that carry designer brands, high-quality jewelry, perfume, alcohol and more. Wander along the Rue de la République, Rue du Général de Gaulle and Rue de la Liberté. Don’t miss the West Indies Mall for those ultra-luxe boutiques. For a more local shopping experience, make sure you take a stroll through the many outdoor clothing, produce and souvenir markets that can be found all around the island.
Eat at a lolo
Get a taste of St. Martin’s local flavour at one of the famous strips of outdoor eateries and barbeque stands locally known as “lolos.” Scattered across many of the island’s towns, these lolos house both Creole and local favourites including Johnnycakes, plantains, salt fish cakes and other specialties. Anthony Bourdain even frequented Rosemary’s, a popular lolo near the waterfront in Marigot that serves up dishes like spicy jerk chicken, stewed conch and fried fish.
Visit Fort Louis
In 1789, Fort Louis was built to protect Marigot Bay from British and Dutch pirates. While it’s been abandoned for centuries, the fort still sits on a hilltop by the bay and offers a stunning 360-degree view of Marigot, Simpson Bay, Baie Nettlé and even the island of Anguilla on a clear day. There are even replica cannons laid across the fort for an extra historical touch. Definitely a must-see for all history buffs and view chasers.
Learn how guavaberry liqueur is made
Another long-standing St. Martin tradition is the production of guavaberry liqueur. Dating back centuries, the people of St. Martin would brew guavaberry liqueur privately in their homes—then bury it in their backyards to ferment. For a Christmas treat, the liqueur would be unearthed and shared. It has since become an integral part of their culture as well as their national liqueur. The guavaberry is a rare fruit found on top of the warm hills in the centre of the island—it looks like a blueberry and has the texture of a grape, but tastes quite sweet, with sour and spicy afternotes (nothing like guava). The liqueur is made with fine oak-aged rum, cane sugar, and, of course, guavaberries. For the ultimate local experience, visit the Guavaberry Colombier Tradition, and get an inside look into how it’s produced, plus an exclusive tasting.
Go beach hopping
If you’re going to the island of 37 beaches, you’re going to check off as many of them as you can, and what better way than by boat? For the full seaside experience, look into chartering a boat (Captain Jo Boat Charters are highly-rated) for the afternoon and explore the island’s wide selection of beaches—especially the more exclusive ones that aren’t easily accessed by land, like Happy Bay, Tintamarre and Pinel Island.