Îlet Pinel

Top choice in St-Martin & Sint Maarten

This petite offshore islet is fab for a sun-soaked afternoon. Refreshingly undeveloped (it’s part of the Reserve Naturelle Saint Martin or St-Martin Nature Reserve), Pinel’s calm west-facing beach has excellent swimming and decent snorkeling. Rent gear from Caribbean Paddling by the ferry pier in French Cul-de-Sac from where boats head to the island roughly every 30 minutes (five-minute trip, cash only). Casual Yellow Beach and more upscale Karibuni provide sustenance and sun loungers (€20 for two, including umbrella).

Tiny trails weave uphill from the beach into the shrub-covered backcountry and to two more beaches with rougher waters on the northern and eastern shore. Keep an eye out for iguanas.

If you want to make your own way over to Pinel Island, Caribbean Paddling also rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Arriving under your own steam also gives you a chance to stop en route at uninhabited Petite Clef islet which has the bay's best snorkeling. With a bit of luck you might spot sea turtles and rays.

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