Family-Friendly Caribbean Getaway on Private Beach
With its tiny coves and shallow reefs, St. Maarten has earned a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s best snorkeling destinations. The water is particularly clear for snorkeling at Simpson Bay, which is situated among dozens of white-sand beaches on the island's southern Dutch side. Flamingo Beach Resort wraps around the sea near here—you'll have access to your own private stretch of beach. And when you're not scoping out the scene underwater, you can find a number of outdoor bars and 24-hour casinos along the beach.
Each of the resort's 750-square-foot studio rooms features a full kitchen, a spacious living room, and a furnished balcony. Splashes of vibrant colors in the artwork, upholstery, and window treatments give rooms a playful vibe. Some rooms look out onto the ocean.
Throughout the week, Flamingo Beach Resort keeps families occupied, with scavenger hunts, T-shirt painting classes, and aqua aerobics. But if you just want to relax, feel free to use the resort's lounge chairs, palapa huts, and blue-and-white-striped umbrellas on the beach. The infinity-edge pool looks out to the ocean, where sailboats and cruise ships float by throughout the day. There’s also an open-air bar by the pool, where small chalkboards display happy-hour specials and the day's homework assignment.
Saint Martin: Island Paradise with Split Cultural Heritage
Located in the northern Caribbean, the 37-square-mile island of Saint Martin has been peacefully shared by the French and the Dutch for more than 350 years, giving the island two very distinct yet harmonious personalities. On the Dutch side, to the south, crowds gravitate toward the neon-lit clubs and the live-music bars at Simpson Bay; when those establishments close, revelers make their way to the 24-hour casinos. Meanwhile, the French portion to the north is more secluded and less developed. It has some gorgeous beaches, and the emphasis here is on relaxation.
You can get an understanding of Saint Martin's blend of cultural influences when you consider its restaurant scene; there are more than 400 eateries on the island. Many travelers praise the authentic French cuisine and fine wines at Grand Case Beach Club on the French side, known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. Casual barbecue restaurants, known as lolos, are located along the beach and serve up spicy shrimp, ribs, chicken, and heaping helpings of side dishes complemented by guava-berry rum. The quieter Back Street, on the Dutch side, is lined with some authentic Chinese eateries that are typically inexpensive.
Both parts of the island share crystal-clear bays filled with palatial coral structures and tropical fish. Take a guided snorkeling trip to Pinel Island, or to Creole Rock to see reef-ringed boulders. Deep-sea fishing charters send anglers out in search of marlin, blackfin tuna, and wahoo.
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