Things to Do in Grand Case
Known for its rugged beauty, the uninhabited island of Tintamarre—part of the St. Martin Nature Reserve—is 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) off the northeast coast of St. Martin. A popular day trip, the island boasts historic ruins, large grassy fields of a former plantation, unspoiled beaches, and abundant wildlife.
Secluded Baie RougeBeach—set between two rocky bluffs in the lowlands along the west coast of St. Martin—is one of island’s most beautiful beaches. Its name hints at what makes it special: sparkling pink sands and red-hued rock formations, although the beach bar and a cave flooded with seawater, Devil’s Hole, also hold appeal.
The white sands of Orient Bay Beach are no secret in St. Maarten. This clothing-optional spot is a top attraction in the area, and sun worshippers come for its views of the bay, clear water, snorkeling opportunities, and many beachside restaurants and bars.
Built on the orders of Louis XVI in 1767, Fort St. Louis sits atop a cliff overlooking Marigot, the capital of the French side of Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Long decommissioned, the fort still waves the French flag. The formidable walls and cannons that protected the island from invading powers and pirates are in excellent shape today.
Saint Martin / Sint Maarten is the smallest territory in the world to be peacefully divided by two distant powers. The border between the French side and the Dutch side along the island’s east coast is simply demarcated by the clear, calm waters of Oyster Pond, a protected cove with a pretty marina and a dock for ferries to Saint Barthelemy.
One of St. Martin’s most family-friendly beaches, Le Galion Beach is the perfect beach day for visitors traveling with young children. The turquoise waters of the beach also known as L’Embouchure or Baby Beach are clear, mellow, and very shallow—even 300 feet (91 meters) from the shore. It’s also one of the few area beaches that discourages nude sunbathing.
Rising from the center of St. Maarten/St. Martin, Pic Paradis (Peak Paradise) is the island’s highest point as well as its wettest, which ensures the vegetation is lush and green year-round. Climb to the 1,391-foot (424-meter) summit for sweeping views of Orient Bay, Philipsburg, Simpson Bay Lagoon, Marigot, and the neighboring islands.
As the capital of French St. Martin, Marigot is a unique fusion of French and West Indian culture, alive in the ambiance, cafes, bakeries, wine shops, and the Creole gingerbread houses along Rue de la République. History buffs gravitate to Fort Louis, built in 1789 to overlook Marigot Bay.
More Things to Do in Grand Case
Get an up close look at some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic butterflies at the Butterfly Farm on the east side of St. Martin. The farm has a collection of more than 40 species of butterflies and moths—including rare species like the Central American postman and Brazilian blue morpho—that live and breed among the lush tropical gardens that create a Zen-like experience with waterfalls and koi-filled pools inside the screened enclosure. If you come early in the morning, you may have the chance to spot new butterflies emerging from their cocoons, and if you wear brightly colored clothes, they may mistake you for flowers and land on your shoulder.
Please note The Butterfly Farm is currently closed temporarily due to Hurricane Irma.
One of the Caribbean’s great snorkeling destinations, Creole Rock is a small rocky outcropping just off St. Martin’s northern coast. Teaming with the life above and under the sea, the reef is part of a protected marine reserve. It’s also an important bird rookery where pelicans and brown boobies come to lay their eggs.