Beach at L'Anse Marcel, Saint Martin

Nestled away in the north-east of the Caribbean is Saint Martin, a tropical island with a distinct European feel. Divided between the vastly populated Dutch side and the more laid back French side, Saint Martin has everything you expect from an island getaway. Average temperatures hit 27°C and there are plenty of beaches to enjoy that golden sunshine. To make the most of your trip, look into holiday car hire before you embark on Carribbean travel so you can head off to explore this beautiful tropical island.

View of Colombier from Pic du Paradis

Begin your trip on the French side of the island and collect your hire car from L’Esperance Airport. On your way south to Marigot, make sure you stop at Rambaud where you’ll find the highest point on the island at Pic du Paradise. You can drive to the peak of the hilltop but beware – the road becomes narrower as you make your way up. If you do brave the drive, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views across the island.

Marigot is the French side capital and it is the quintessential Caribbean town. The roads here can be filled with traffic at times so make sure you factor that into your plans. Marigot has the largest market on the island and it’s perfect for snapping up the souvenirs from your trip as well as trying out some Caribbean cuisine. To further indulge in some retail therapy, take a drive to the harbour and along to Marigot Bay. Once you’re done with shopping, leave the car at the harbour and take a climb up to Fort Louis to see the ruins here. Not only will it give you an insight into some of the history of the island, but it’ll also provide you with some stunning views.

Marigot Harbor, Saint Martin

When you can resist the urge no longer, it’s time to head for the beaches and in Saint Martin you really are spoilt for choice. Staying in the west, take a drive along the coast and you’ll find many of the beaches that the French side of the island is famed for. If you book a four wheel drive in advance, then you can even indulge in some off road driving to take you to the more secluded beaches. Beaches you must visit include Sandy Ground, Bay Rouge and Nettle Bay, which are all utterly thriving at the moment. Here the sunsets are absolutely stunning and you can hit the waves, snorkel beneath them or choose to spend your time soaking up that glistening Caribbean sun.

Pinel Island is amazing for snorkeling.

From here you can choose to head east to explore what else the island has to offer. If you do, ensure you take a boat cruise out first to Pinel Island to indulge in some snorkelling and to explore the walking trails before moving onto Tintamarre Island for its breathtaking beauty and secluded beaches. Otherwise, take the road further south into the Dutch side of the island where life is a little more hectic. Whilst there are border checks between the two sides, these are rare and the security is fairly relaxed.