Is it worth coming to SXM in 2018?


We, the St Maarten Map team had to leave the island after the hurricane Irma. While away from the island, we heard so many negative comments from the media about the island. We asked our friends who stayed on the island how it was on the French and the Dutch side, and yes the situation was difficult. Many bad things happened, but they told us that the media was exaggerating and that there were many good things happening in St Maarten. Many people are helping each other to rebuild the island, and the crime was not what was said in the media.

The fear of going back to SXM was installed in many of our readers’ mind because of what was said in the news. But we decided to check for ourselves.

We arrived at Princess Julianna airport at the beginning of March 2018. We could see that many reparations were made especially on the fences. The Arrival area at the airport was outside but very organized, quick, welcoming and with some good fans to cool people down. And we were very surprised regarding the structure that has been built to accommodate people who are about to leave the island.


We rented a car at Sax Car Rental, and someone from their company was waiting for us. On the way to the car rental office, we could see some of the damaged boats that were still in the lagoon, but compared to when we left the island just after Irma, most of the boats had been moved. The water looked pretty clean and there was enough space for the many sailing boats, catamarans, and yacht to navigate safely in the lagoon and in the marina. Arriving at Sax Car Rental we saw that their place that was previously destroyed by the hurricane has been well rebuilt. We did our paperworks and quickly got our car.


We stayed in Diamond Estate at our previous apartment which should soon be rented to tourists. Many hotels have reopened such as the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina but the apartment didn’t get any damage except for the coconut tree that was unrooted. The place was still clean, cozy and spacious. The plants in the yard had grown back, even the mango tree that had lost all of its branches. And the view of the ocean with the quietness of the neighborhood and the sounds of the singing birds were still as enchanting as before.



While driving around the island we could see that many reparations were made on the Dutch side but also on the French side, and more than we could imagine. There were a few areas that had more damages, but it is far better than what the news was saying. Indeed many places are rebuilding or are in the process of starting to rebuild. The vegetation has grown back very well and some trees already got back their leaves and fruits.


We have to admit that before arriving we were a little anxious about the safety. Especially because of what French relatives were telling us regarding events that they heard in the news. We are conscious that not everyone’s experience can be the same, but for us and many of our friends staying on the French side we never had any safety issue. People on Saint Martin as well as on Sint Maarten were extremely kind, welcoming and helpful. With a big smile on their faces, people were super friendly, and we know that it was not easy and that many of them are still recovering or even struggling. But the faith and mental strength of these people is great, and they live day by day with a positive attitude.

We visited a few beaches, which have been cleaned such as:

  • Orient Bay, where all the restaurants had been destroyed, but everything has been cleaned up and was safe.

  • Maho beach which didn’t have big rocks on it anymore but only white sand

  • Buccaneer beach bar, which didn’t really change and was full of people

  • Happy Bay that lost many of its trees but still is welcoming especially for special events

  • Petite plage in Grand Case that had many shells in the sand but it was actually adding a charm, and it was still less full than other beaches and as relaxing as before

  • Le Gallion that still had palm trees, and despite some algae, the water was still very quiet and the safest for kids.

We enjoyed walking in Marigot where many restaurants reopened, and the market was full of tourists from the cruise boats. Grand case had its Lolos opened as well as many other restaurants and shops. We could see that a few businesses have been destroyed or were currently closed like some places on the island. Nevertheless, many new businesses opened, probably by taking advantage of the situation, which in a sense is good because many people still need jobs.

Philipsburg didn’t change a lot and many reparations were very quickly made, probably because it is the main place cruise boats tourists visit.

Simpson Bay really impressed us because it was the first place that we visited just after the hurricane Irma and it was in a very bad state. It was sad to see all the destructions as it was one of the main places where we loved to hang out during the day and at night. But during our visit it was surprisingly still a cool place to hang out, most of the places reopened and some have been arranged even better than before. New businesses appeared as well. In the evenings most restaurants and bars are very full and the ambiance was the same as before.

We can say indeed, 6 months after the hurricane Irma, that some damages remain, some inhabitants are in a delicate situation, and many businesses are temporarily closed. But there is more positive than negative, life is still there and St Maarten is still “The Friendly Island”. Nature is astonishing, things to do are far from being boring and are varied, the island is safer than some developed countries in the world, and crime is lower than many big cities in the world that tourists visit the most, the atmosphere on the island is positive, relaxing and fun at the same time.

With this experience, we confirm that indeed SXM is strong… #SXMstrong!

If you have any question or comment please contact us or write in the comment section below.

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  1. I have to disagree with the le gallion review… as a local resident, I wouldn’t allow my children to swim there at the moment as the salt pond is currently connected and running straight into the ocean with a very dingy, brown stinky water path. Until the french government closes that canal back up with decent amount of sand, I would not consider the water safe….

  2. This was my post after my week in December after Irma. My husband and I were nervous about coming to the island due to the media news – but we came and ever so glad we did and grateful for the island that we love.

    “Rounding the end of my week on beautiful SXM. This is what I found:

    The island is still the most beautiful island I have seen and the people are the most gracious hardworking people I know. I got to see friends and those I have been worried about after Irma. Some have chosen to stay here, their home, and rebuild. Some had no choice and had to leave. My time spent here was as blessed as it has been for the last 11 years. Was there destruction? YES! But if your heart chooses to focus on the beauty – as it should – if your heart chooses to focus on the people and their gracious hearts – there is bountiful happiness.

    See you again next year – 2 weeks next year and I am already counting down the days. ❤️“

  3. Wonderful review of the island, we have been here (this trip–the 3rd since Irma) since late February and will remain until late May to return again in late June through much of August. Sint Maarten/St Martin are as diverse, positive, upbeat, and active as ever. Th.e flora is returning so well, each day we can see more life returning to the terrain. As my husband said watching the sunset “I absolutely LOVE being here.”

    Thanks for your great and honest review!

  4. It’s very odd. My wife and I were there at the same time you were. We have vacationed in the island several times. All three times we stayed on the French side. This time, we were there on a cruise. I have the opposite opinion. There is no way I would vacation in st Martin. We took a drive out to orient beach. It was trashed. It seemed to me that some physical effort to just remove debris would be very simple. Instead, we saw locals hanging out and drinking beer st 10:30 am. We’ve been to the Caribbean about 30 times. Orient beach is probably my all time favorite. Not now. We also visited Puerto Rico on our cruise. What a difference. There was very little evidence of the hurricanes from 6 months prior.
    I live st Martin it is my favorite island, however, I would not recommend anyone vacationing there. It is a very difficult problem. Without tourists, the island cannot turn around. But it’s difficult to spend your vacation dollars there.
    The day we were there, they were just getting around to repairing the roads. Six months later? It took about two hours to travel about three miles. I’m sure there are many obstacles that inhibit the return to pre hurricane conditions, but somebody needs to take the bull by the horns and get things done.
    Oh, btw, sunset beach bar was up and running with no apparent reminders of the hurricanes. Why? Maybe due to be owned by an American? The guy gets things done

  5. Has Sunwing started rebuilding the old Sonesta Great Bay Hotel ? Haven’t heatd anything about this. Would love an update.

  6. Have been going to SXM for 31 years, have gone through hurricanes back then but this one was a beast. Am so happy to see that all is evolving. Missed going down there this year but 2019 we’ll be back. Love this island so much.
    Are the casinos back too????

  7. I am going in May staying at the Simpson Bay Resort. I have been a little concerned. Thank you for your post. It set my mind at ease. One other concern was iguanas. I’m afraid if them but was told not to worry….lol..did you find them a problem?
    Thank you

  8. What a great article!
    Thank you for spreading some good words about our tiny dot in the Caribbean ocean.
    Us locals want you back
    We are resilient, we are SxmStrong!!

  9. Was there may 1st for 6 days and it was perfect. Simpson bay was booming and myself and fiance had the time of our lives. Going back in Nov

  10. we just returned from a trip to SxM- (1-3 to 1-9). Stayed on the Dutch side at Simpson Bay Suites (rustic but ok) and then also in Phillipsburg at Saint Maarten Sea Palace (really nice). Both places were up and running.

    Transportation was fine (rental car) and the roads were open. Like all of the islands we go to we make a point of being off the street at night, but we never felt unsafe during the day or in our lodging at night. We drove around the entire island touring around. French side is still pretty trashed but the Dutch side looks much better. Still a lot of places that have yet to be rebuilt, but much more so on the French side.

    Plenty of restaurants open, grocery stores, etc… – and the beaches were nice. We did a boat tour and saw a bunch of the beaches from the waterside and they all looked good. We’re going back in March and will stay at Royal Islander, which also looked good in terms of being rebuilt. Overall the island felt safer than say Barbados (which isn’t bad – but again it was important to be back on grounds before it got dark).

    Really pretty island, great beaches, not a reef diving destination, lots to do, great French bakeries!, and friendly locals. Traffic is a bit much on the Dutch side, but you get used to it. But, again, like any of the islands and many cities in the states – unless you are in a big group, best to be sober and don’t be out late at night. Don’t be an easy target.

    1. Amazing Bill! We are happy you had such a great experience! Indeed, St Maarten will remain a unique Caribbean island with so many things to do and to explore. Don’t hesitate to let us know how your March trip was 🙂

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