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While most visitors come to St. Martin/St. Maarten for the beaches, they will be pleased to discover that there’s more to do here than hit the shores. Here are five things you simply can’t miss while you’re on the island.
1. Visit Maho Bay. Located on the Dutch side’s western shore, this beach offers the island’s most unique sunbathing — aircraft landing at nearby Princess Juliana International Airport skim close to Maho Beach. The day’s flight schedule is even posted at a Maho Beach bar so you can be prepared for what is undoubtedly a hair-raising beach experience
2. Swim at Orient Bay. The French are hardly shy when it comes to clothing-free sunbathing, and topless beaches dot the entire northern half of St. Martin. To shed every last bit of clothing, head to Orient Bay, where half of the beach is dedicated to birthday suit-wearing bathers. Here, you’ll find people of all ages, shapes and sizes lounging, walking down the beach, swimming, and engaging in all the usual beach activities — they just happen to be naked.
3. Hit the casino. The Dutch side of the island is chock full of casinos, and gamblers will find plenty of Las Vegas-style venues to try their luck. Players can find the usual games, including slot machines, roulette tables, black jack, poker, craps and more.
4. Dine in style. St. Martin bears the unofficial title of the “Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean,” in a nod to the classic French cuisine served in the northern capital city of Marigot. Charming sidewalk cafes serve fresh food that arrives daily from France. You’ll also find a wide range of restaurants at Marina Port La Royale, where people-watching is a highlight of every meal.
5. Sail or dive. The aquamarine waters are a pleasure to explore by boat or by scuba. Hop on one of many day sails that combine sightseeing with rum punch, or rent snorkeling gear available on most of St. Martin’s beaches. The best water attractions are a little deeper, however — the island boasts scores of dive sites, including the HMS Proselyte, a British warship that wrecked in 1801.