Ocean-View Bungalows and Exotic Wildlife on Private Bay in St. Maarten
When seasoned sailor Olivier Lange set out to open a restaurant on a small lagoon in St. Maarten's Oyster Pond area in the late 1970s, many of his friends thought he was crazy. At the time, there were no roads on this part of the island, and the few visitors who came here had to brave a rough boat ride across a choppy channel. Some 30 years later, St. Maarten is a thriving tourist destination, yet the bay still has a secluded feel. Lange's restaurant now anchors Captain Oliver's Beach Resort, which extends across St. Maarten's Dutch-French border and boasts a private marina and a mini zoo.
Throughout the resort, you can see evidence of Lange's love of the sea. An international bridge spans the French-Dutch border and leads to Captain Oliver's Restaurant, where resident parrots and toucans greet guests and recite the daily specials. You can dine on fresh seafood dockside or in the nautical-themed dining area, where a glass floor lets you peer into an aquarium filled with sea turtles and sharks. Just outside the restaurant, a glass-walled swimming pool is affectionately known as the "people aquarium."
Although it's tucked into a quiet cove, the resort is close to the island's popular attractions. You can stock up on snorkeling gear at the onsite dive shop and then take the shuttle across the bay to Dawn Beach to explore the coral reef. Or you can stay put, enjoying a view of the ocean from the balcony of your airy, bungalow-style guest room.
St. Maarten: Island Paradise with Split Cultural Heritage
Due to its location on Oyster Pond, which stretches from French to Dutch St. Maarten, the resort sits near a smorgasbord of on-the-water activities. Boat tours, lagoon cruises, and catamaran trips depart from the cove to explore neighboring islands and deserted hideaways, and deep-sea fishing charters send anglers out in search of marlin, blackfin tuna, and wahoo. A short boat ride off the French cul-de-sac brings travelers to Pinel Island, a hidden gem offering some of the best snorkeling in St. Maarten.
The 37-square-mile island shows off its French and Dutch heritage in a host of cosmopolitan boutiques and restaurants lining the wide, bustling boardwalks between Great Bay and Salt Pond. Trimmed by colorful awnings and towering palm trees, Front Street bustles with shops peddling duty-free jewelry and designer china. Art galleries and authentic Chinese eateries occupy the quieter Back Street. After sundown, lively beach bars fuel nights of revelry with rum-infused cocktails and flavorful creole bites.