Sint Maarten; the friendly island, also known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean (and for a good reason, I know now). With 37 beaches, none of which are privately owned, you’d think of it as the perfect place to have a vacay, come to your senses and relax. But, there is so much more to this island! I visited the beautiful Dutch and French part of the island during November, a month full of gastronomy events and festivities (tip, if you’re a foodie you should definitely visit during this time of the year!). And here I am giving you an overview of what not to miss!
When visiting St Maarten, everyone will tell you about Maho Beach, situated on the Dutch part of the island. This is world-famous for the low flying airplanes. Obviously, it makes for amazing social media content, but it’s also quite an experience to feel the jet blast of larger planes either taking off or landing. Besides, the Dutch part of the island has a lovely old town with colorful murals, lots of guava berry rum tasting places and many beautiful beaches. A boattrip could be nice to see the island from a different perspective. We took the Lambada Catamaran, which was a lovely evening out. On the French part of the island Fort Louis and Loterie Farm would be perfect for great views and I feel like this part has amazing architecture that serves well for beautiful insta shots. But wait, didn’t I say this would be full of tips for foodies? So here we go, 7 must visit places for the foodies. Note, you’ll find both high-end and street food for great prices and the quality & taste is a-l-w-a-y-s a 10/10.
1. Villa Hibiscus
Even though there’s no particular order in which I will be talking about these restaurants, there’s a reason why I think of Villa Hibiscus first. Should you only have time for one amazing food experience during your visit, let it be this one! La Villa Hibiscus is run by Chef Bastian and his wife Sabine and it’s not just a restaurant, but also a guesthouse. The beautiful apartments each have their own allure, some with a private pool as well. And just as the rooms have their special finishing touches, so does the food. It’s a pleasure for both the eyes and the tongue. The atmosphere is very intimate and relax and the service is amazing.
Emilio’s describes themselves as a casual bistro style dining experience. Personally, I’d say it’s a gastronomic adventure from world class on a historic 18th century sugarcane plantation. It has a laidback, but high-end ambience and when stepping into the restaurant one will immediately feel at home. Looking at the beautiful surroundings you just know the food’s gonna be good. Think of an incredible blend of international and carribean flavors. There’s the choice between tapas, a main course, or three courses. I really enjoyed the curry and couldn’t keep myself from having a dessert. Carrot cake and panna cotta, help me out!
3. Freedom Fighters Ital Shack
The name already says it; here you can find ital food, (in Rastafarian culture) organically grown vegetarian food, cooked without salt. When you think you’re coming in for a little lunch or just a small snack, just know that you’ll leave with a full tummy and still wanting more. It’s hard to describe what happens to your taste buds when the food is made in such an honest way, and tastes so so so good. Meeting with the owner will add to your SXM experience in a beautiful way too as he can tell you all about the wisdom of culture, history and life.
4. Rosie’s Beach Bar
If you appreciate having your toes in the sand while at the same time eating delicious food, then this is the place to be! Think of Barbecue chicken and… more barbecue chicken. Sounds simple, but your tongue will disagree. With their simple spices and smokiness, these were definitely the best ribs we had on the island so far… Have it served with ‘Ting’, a local grapefruit flavored soda and your day on the beach will be complete.
5. Captain’s Rib shack
While we were in Sint Maarten on St Maarten’s day, Captain’s Rib Shack was hosting a special afternoon where locals in need could come and get free food at the shack. An amazing charity offer, I’d say! We ordered Johnnycakes, baked bananas, rice, beans, chicken, more chicken. All the while enjoying the live music and DJ in the background. Captain’s Rib shack feels like the ultimate get together where locals chill out and enjoy their free time. It felt special to be a part of that.
6. Indigo Beach Bar
One of the prettiest beach restaurants I’ve seen in Sint Maarten would have to be Indigo Beach Restaurant. It has an incredible view and one can easily take a lil stroll down the beach while waiting for the food to be ready. Indigo Beach serves great seafood, but also meat and vegetarian options in the form of poke bowls, burgers, salads, pastas and appetizers. This is where you go to enjoy the finest cuisine in a paradise like environment.
7. Le Pressoir
Just like Villa Hibiscus, Le Pressoir, is situated on the French part of the island. In 2021, they were elected 4th best Restaurant in the Caribbean and 1st Restaurant in Saint Martin. And in 2022, they were classified as the Best Restaurant in the Whole Caribbean. Needless to say more. This food was incredible and so was the beautiful way it was served. How I love when my appetizer comes in a beautiful glass or when there’s special effects to my courses be it the truffle that is put upon my risotto or the smoke that comes off my desert. J’adore!
So yeah… I came home + 2 extra kilos and twice as happy! I hope these tips help you guys navigate through all the lovely restaurants on the island. My final tip would be to do a cooking class! We did one by 2 star Michelin chef Nicolas Sale, which was super fun (and delicious!)