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Deciding between St John and St Martin

West Hartford...
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Deciding between St John and St Martin

Can anyone help me decide between these two islands? Planning a week long trip with 2 teens in February. Mostly want to relax at the beach/villa, do some shopping for a day or two, eat out a day or two and chill with not an overly crowded island. Thoughts by anyone who has been to both?

We would stay in Chocolate Hole in St John and Terres Basses in SXM. Thanks everyone.

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St Thomas
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1. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

In my admittedly biased opinion it's St John hands down! I've been to St Maarten/St Martin several times. It's way busier all around than St John; the beaches just can't compare (and are crowded). I've enjoyed some excellent meals there and the night life is varied and fun. But I'd pick St John any day if it comes to a choice between the two. I think you can tell from the posts on this forum how strongly so many visitors feel about this wonderfully beautiful quiet island which keeps them returning time and time again however many other islands they go to. There's more than enough to keep people of all ages busy and, if you want a little extra pep and more shopping, St Thomas is only a 10 minute ferry ride away!

Canton, Michigan
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2. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

I have been to both islands St. Martin twice and St. John 4 times.

I loved both islands but I'd pick St John for me and my wife every time. But with teens, I think there would be more to do in St. Martin on Orient Beach. St. Martin has much better shopping as well.

So;

If you prefer shopping and activities in general - St Martin.

If you prefer hanging out at the Villa and if snorkeling is important - St John.

There is no snorkeling worth a darn in St. Martin. people might tell you otherwise, but it's because they don't know any better.

Washington, DC
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3. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

In February, both islands will be in their high season. Of the two, the crowds will be more noticeable on SXM, particularly in downtown Phillipsburg. I recall traffic jams on the main street.

The beaches on the two islands are pretty different. More commercial on SXM, more natural on STJ. There's a naturist/nudist beach or two on SXM, none on STJ.

Generally, SXM is more developed. You'll find more shopping opportunities on SXM (Phillipsburg, Marigot) than on STJ. You'll also have more restaurant choices.

SXM has a more European character than STJ. Very little Dutch atmosphere on the Dutch side, but somewhat stronger hints of France on the French side.

Last time I looked, rental cars were cheaper on SXM. (You'll need one if you stay at Chocolate Hole.)

An island that's somewhat comparable to St. John is St. Barth -- laid-back, natural, off the beaten path. St. Martin is more comparable to St. Thomas -- busier, more commercial, easier to get to.

TM

NY metro
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4. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

I have good vacation experience with both Islands (SXM at Oyster and a villa on Orient).

St Martin in 2007/08 and St John every year since. I will go to St John again this winter. For me there is no serious choice. St John is, IMO, a superior vacation experience.

Unless you go to St Thomas during your stay (very doable); shopping will be better in Phillipsburg. St John is a much quieter island.

The dining scene in St John is good, but certainly more restaurants (good and bad) are available in both Marigot and Grand Case.

Beaches, snorkeling, relaxed uncrowded vibe--St John has it better IMO.

Saint Louis...
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5. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

I prefer STJ because it is so quiet. It may be too quiet for your teens compared to SXM. Have you looked at T&C?

Edited: 06 December 2012, 18:25
West Hartford...
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6. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

Thanks everyone for responding so quickly. Is there enough shopping on STJ to satisfy a teen daughter for a day?? Seems most think STJ is the better choice. Is Chocolate Hole the right choice over Coral Bay?

Canton, Michigan
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7. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

Okay, Looking at my photo you can all tell I'm a 17 year old male.

I'm picking St. Martin.

Orient Beach is Beautiful

Orient Beach has wave runners and other toys

Orient Beach has lots of girls

Orient Beach has lots of topless girls (Keep in mind I'm 17).

St Martin has more places to hang out

St Martin Beach has cute native girls that speak interesting languages

St Martin has a great downtown with lots of things to do.

St. Martin has great shopping

St Martin has a beach where airplanes fly about 50 feet over your head.

I think many of the same items would be important for teenage girls too.

Now if I were a 57 year old grandfather with a love of snorkeling and quiet beaches I'd pick St. John every time... But I'm a 17 year old male.

Saint Louis...
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8. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

Well Coral Bay is really remote...about a 25 min jeep ride across the island. And the surrounding villas are even more remote on steep hills. It really depends on what you are looking for...if some shopping and close access to the best beaches are your priority, I would look for a property on the north side of the island closer to Cruz Bay ie: Peter Bay area.

Ohio
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9. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

The shopping is limited of STJ. I hate to shop, but I usually get a piece of jewelry (inexpensive stuff) while I'm there. You can walk from one end of Cruz Bay to the other in less than 10 minutes to give you an idea of the size. Your daughter would see everything in a few hours. If she wants to shop all day, she would be happier going to STT when there are cruise ships in port.

Chocolate Hole is closer to Cruz Bay. Coral Bay is on the other side of the island. About a 35-45 minute drive. It is considered the quietier side of the island. Fewer restaurants, very little shopping. Are you looking at a particular villa in Chocolate Hole? We usually stay in the Great Cruz Bay/Maria Bluff area which is one bay before Chocolate Hole. CH is about a 10 minute drive to Cruz Bay. Another 10-20 to North Shore beaches, depending on which beach you choose.

As someone else pointed out, a rental vehicle is required. Reserve it as soon as you know your dates.

I have been to both islands, and hands downs STJ is my choice.

St Thomas, VI
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10. Re: Deciding between St John and St Martin

From St John you can visit several nearby islands and have the fun of exploring by sea. If you come to St Thomas from St John, the kids can jet ski at Sapphire and ride the zipline.

You'll also see more wildlife in the Virgins, like donkeys, deer, iguanas, etc. I don't think I've ever seen much wildlife on St Martin.

St John has many family friendly hiking trails that sometimes lead to a beach. Not much hiking on St Martin.

In the Virgin Islands you have more diverse options, I think, than on some other islands, and in my opinion, the shopping on St John is better than St Thomas, because the shops don't usually copy each other like they do on St Thomas. More unique items on St John than St Thomas or St Martin.