Travelers journeying to the peaceful neighbors of St. Martin will be pleased to learn that visiting the island is an attractive option at any time of the year.
Some will refer to the island by its name. Others will use region names such as French West Indies, Dutch West Indies, and the former Netherlands Antilles. One thing for certain however, is that St. Martin is similar to the rest of the Eastern Caribbean in their climate and seasonal patterns. Travelers should consider what kind of vacation experience they wish to have, and in which state they wish to have it, when visiting the island.
...tradewinds from the west cool the entire region...
Travelers from frigid, frostbitten areas in the United States, Canada, and Europe will be stupefied that the term winter is also used in the Caribbean, as the climate will be markedly different. Eastern Caribbean climate is mildly pleasant throughout the entire year, although the tourist season of mid-December to mid-April generally experiences less rainfall and less uncomfortable heat and humidity. Strong tradewinds from the west cool the entire region during this time making a day on the beach mild and invigorating. Hurricane season ends at the end of November, taking away the proposition of encountering one of these fierce Atlantic storms. The pleasant weather in the Caribbean during this time makes this season the most popular, but also the most crowded.
The heavy migration of tourists to the shared island during the Caribbean high season marks the awakening of businesses and island nightlife. Recreational services, shops, hotels, and restaurants will all generally extend their hours and offer the most services during this season. Hotels will often offer guests the most options for recreation and schedule entertainment and activities during this time. Restaurants will stay open for longer hours to accommodate the large numbers of diners looking to sample island and international cuisine. Island nightlife activity will also surge during this time, as younger crowds fill the bars and dance clubs after a day spent adventuring or relaxing. Reservations for hotels can be booked months in advance for this time, and even recreational services and the less fashionable restaurants will require a reservation to guarantee availability. The island, during this time, is likely to be packed with tourists and cruise ships.
Those who wish to avoid the feeling of being just another tourist in a sea of tourists may wish to visit the island during the slower months of mid-April to mid-December. The weather during this time, while generally producing increased rain, humidity, and heat, is still pleasant, and vacationers who find themselves wanting to get away from the heat will find a dip in the water or a escape to air conditioning to be efficient remedies for the temperature increase. As the size of the crowds decrease, so do the prices of items that most tourists will encounter, and airlines and hotel rates will drop generally 20 percent to 50 percent. Shopping may also be cheaper during this time, as vendors and retail stores may often slightly mark down their prices. For travelers who enjoy a bit of breathing room while on vacation, and who wish to avoid fighting for reservations for dinner or for a jetski, these slower months may be a good option.
If you are traveling during this time, however, you should be aware of several factors that could affect your vacation. Atlantic hurricane season coincides with this slow season and the conditions and storm developments in the Atlantic should always be monitored during and before your trip. Vendors will often shorten their hours as a result of slower business, and some restaurants or services may close altogether for weeks or months at a time. Hotels also utilize these times of less demand to perform construction and renovations for the following season, so guests will want to check the status, location, and extent of any construction that will occur during their stay. The sound of a hammer next to your room at 7:30 a.m. is not the way most people wish to start their day while in the Caribbean.
Some travelers find that festivals and events, rather than "seasons" are their main considerations when visiting the Caribbean. St. Martin has a full array of festivals throughout the year that attract travelers from abroad.
Due to the size of the island, many of the festivities are enjoyed by both those staying on this side of the island and over on Dutch St. Maarten. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta takes place March 4th through the 6th and features musical events in addition to the racing. The St. Maarten/St. Martin Summer Fest is another collection of musical events that usually takes place in July and features nights of jazz, reggae, gospel, and hip hop. Carnival in Sint Maarten spans almost an entire month from the early part of April to the beginning of May and has the usual assortment of costumes, musicians, and parades. St. Martin celebrates their carnival in February and also holds a Caribbean Comedy Festival with international names in early July. Runs, races, and local cultural events take place frequently throughout the year, so consult a calendar before your trip to find events that may be of interest to you.
With so many options, travelers may find it difficult to decide what time of year and which part of the island to visit when traveling to St. Martin. Luckily, it is hard to go wrong.
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