Sweeping Ocean Views and Buzzing Nightspots in the Heart of Maho Bay
The view from St. Maarten’s west coast is most dramatic around dinnertime, when the sun dips below the Caribbean horizon—a sweeping, peach-hued sky that’s uninterrupted save for a few sailboats. There are few better seats for this nightly show than at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino’s Ocean Terrace Restaurant, a Mediterranean-inspired eatery with patio tables overlooking the water. It’s one of several picture-perfect settings at the limitless all-inclusive resort, located along 10 beachfront acres.
You can enjoy some of the best vistas from the privacy of your pool/ocean-view balcony. In deference to the natural splendor outside, rooms are simply furnished with cream-colored wood furniture, one king bed or two double beds, and tropical bedspreads in red, gold, and blue. Much like the Ocean Terrance Restaurant, the resort’s other onsite dining establishments pair delightful dishes with tranquil views. The Point restaurant serves fresh seafood and a wide selection of wines in a tropical-garden setting, and cooks at the more casual Palms Grill barbecue meat alongside the beach. New in 2013, the Ascot Pub & Sports Bar features casual English pub fare and more than a dozen high-definition TVs.
The palm-shaded swimming pool is one of the resort's social hubs. A wooden footbridge spans the water, just a few strokes away from a fully stocked swim-up bar. For a livelier atmosphere, take a stroll to Casino Royale, one of the island’s largest casinos. You can wager at any of the 400 slot machines or try your luck at craps, blackjack, poker, and roulette. The party continues into the wee hours at Tantra nightclub across the street, where DJs spin Latin, reggae, and R&B beats next to a swirling dance floor.
St. Maarten: Scenic Shorelines, Lively Nightlife, and Boutique Shopping
The island of St. Maarten, located just south of Anguilla in the Caribbean, was ranked on the U.S. News & World Report list of the Best Islands in the World for its “soaring mountains and beautiful shorelines.” This gorgeous topography has been peacefully shared by the French and the Dutch for more than 350 years, giving the island two very distinct yet harmonious personalities. Both parts of the island, however, feature crystal-clear bays filled with fascinating coral structures and tropical fish. On the French side, it’s worth it to take a guided snorkeling trip through Creole Rock, which has a collection of boulders encircled by reefs. Dolphins, eagle rays, and barracudas are frequently spotted here.
The Dutch side is known for its quiet beaches and lively nightlife. Casual barbecue restaurants known as lolos line the shore; they serve up heaping portions of creole ribs and rice alongside guava-berry rum. The bars of Simpson Bay are filled with live music and neon lights, and when those close, locals and visitors alike keep the party going at 24-hour casinos.
Maho Village—also on the Dutch side—has its fair share of casinos as well. Nightclubs here host steel-drum bands and oceanfront bonfire parties late into the night. At the Maho Promenade, situated in the center of town, 40 duty-free boutiques sell fine jewelry, watches, and handsome handicrafts. Most shops, cafés, and restaurants stay open until 11 p.m., so you can enjoy a nightcap amid open-air patios as musicians and dancers perform nearby.