St. Maarten Transportation
There are plenty of ways to get around St. Maarten. and its neighboring islands. You can rent cars and motorbikes for land transportation or you can hop on a regional airline and take a day trip to one of the many nearby islands.
There are several off shore Islands that are definitely worth a day or more visit. Remember - when going off shore - you are actually immigrating - so bring your proof of citizenship and anything else you may need of personal nature.
St. Barth's, the island of the "Rich and Famous", is a popular day trip from St. Maarten. Besides several boats that leave from both the Dutch and French sides - one can also fly over. The landing in St. Barth's, over a hill before the runway, is a thrill onto itself. The best of both worlds would be to fly over and take a boat back. This method usually affords you several hours on the island to shop, explore, tour, swim and have a leisurely lunch.
If you have several hours on St. Barth's, I recommend you rent a "moke" - an open air buggy that seats two comfortably, 4 is a squeeze. (Note this vehicle is standard shift). These and regular cars or jeeps are available at the airport but can be picked up or dropped off at the port or at hotels. Try one of the several beaches (Anse de Gouvernear, Shell Beach, Anse de Saline, and St. Jean). Explore the Port village of Gustavia. The shopping and people watching are great here. Have a drink at Le Select. Top the day off with an island tour and lunch at a restaurant overlooking St. Jean Bay. You will think you're in heaven.
Saba is a small, five square mile island rising almost 3000 feet out of the sea. It is easily visible from St. Martin - as is St. Eustatius. Saba is what the Caribbean was like 50 years ago. It has a small, mostly European population whose descendants can be traced to the earliest explorers. It has no beaches but excellent World Class diving and a very interesting mix of hotel products. One can day trip over by fast ferry from the Dutch side (1.25 hours each way) or fly over in 15 minutes. The runway is cut from the side of a windward hill. One might consider a stay for several days for extended diving - or just to experience this Islands uniqueness. Accommodations ranging from deluxe to Old World quaint and can be arranged with or without diving.
Anguilla, Spanish for "eel," is a long, narrow flat island, six miles north of St. Martin, consisting mainly of coral and limestone. It has relatively low plant growth but excellent beaches. If an island were to be judged on it's land area (only 35 square miles) relative to it's spectacular beaches - Anguilla might be the best in the Caribbean. In the last 20 years, the islands hotel products have really come of age. Some of the most upscale and unique properties can be found here. One can still also find smaller more intimate properties as well. But the theme here is peace, quiet and beaches, beaches, beaches. And speaking of beaches - Shoal Bay is excellent for swimming - and then, starting 30 to 50 feet off shore, in five feet of water, is an excellent reef for snorkeling. Don't miss it. One can take a twenty minute boat ride from Marigot (boats leave almost hourly in season) and cost is $26.00 round trip. Cab it to a beach - but don't forget to get the last boat back.
St. Kitts and Nevis - two islands about 70 miles from St. Maarten should be considered for a one or two day stay - and would be well worth it. St. Kitts was considered one of the strongholds for the British in the struggle for dominance in the Caribbean. Fort Brimstone - worth the trip alone - is a site to behold and is in excellent condition. The island offer many unique "Colonial Style" hotels - not necessarily in architecture - but in character. Many are the remnants of old plantations or great houses. The island is hilly and green in the center but has several nice dark sand beach areas around which hotels have been built. Major hotel chains are developing properties along the white, sandy beach areas in the southern part of the island that extends toward Nevis.
Nevis is also hilly in the central part of this round island but has several nice white sand beach areas. Again - unique Colonial Style hotels and Inns abound as well as the five star Four Seasons Resort. The small airport in Nevis is being expanded and will have more inbound traffic from San Juan and other islands. Most people now arrive by ferry from St. Kitts.