Maho Beach Resort: A Destination Within a Destination

Where to Stay in St. Maarten

What do you look for when deciding which tropical island to visit? Is price value a factor? How about friendliness of locals, or the vicinity of neighboring islands for the possibility of taking a day trip?

The view en route to St. Maarten
The view en route to St. Maarten

I personally have a list of items I consider when deciding on my next island destination because even for someone who travels all the time, I’m fairly picky about where I spend my time away from home. The truth is, the thought of checking off countries just for bragging rights doesn’t appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough to say no to trips, but what’s the point of having a home base if I’m never home?

So, when I was invited to stay for a week at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in St. Maarten this fall, I did some research about the island and the hotel’s location before I said yes.

Maho Beach Resort: Where to Stay in St. Maarten


What Drew Me to St. Maarten and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort

1. The resort is located right at Maho Beach — one of the most unique beaches in the world. Not only does it sit on the Dutch Caribbean side of the island of St. Maarten, but it’s a spot that consistently makes it to travelers must-visit lists because of its close proximity to an international airport. You know that beach where you can watch 747s land while relaxing on the beach? That’s Maho Beach!

Maho Beach Airplane Landing in St. Maarten

Maho Beach St. Maarten Wave

Maho Beach Resort Sunset St. Maarten

2. It’s very close to three other Caribbean islands — St. Barts, Anguilla, and Saba. All of these islands are just a day trip away!

3. It’s the smallest island in the world shared by two nations. There’s a French side and a Dutch side on St. Maarten (aka St. Martin), but you don’t need your passport to cross the border.

4. The beaches are gorgeous. Enough said.

Grand Case Beach St Maarten Caribbean

Grand Case Pier St. Maarten Caribbean


Sonesta Resorts, St. Maarten

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort is part of Sonesta Resorts, which has two resorts on St. Maarten (with a third about to open in just a couple of weeks). Sonesta Maho Beach Resort is all-inclusive (including alcohol), it’s family friendly, has a large pool with cascading waterfalls, a swim-up pool bar, 5 restaurants and bars, and a casino.

Maho Beach Resort St. Maarten Caribbean
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort

Even though I was staying at an all-inclusive resort, I wanted to experience the island. Maho Village is within walking distance — which includes  some of the best restaurants on the island, a grocery store, and you can book tours as well as car rentals right at the resort.

It really takes the stress out of your vacation when you don’t have to plan these things ahead of time or spend your trip making dozens of phone calls to book tours when you should be enjoying your vacation.

Their sister resort, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, is a limitless all-inclusive adults-only resort located about twenty minutes away from Maho Beach.

Sonesta’s third resort, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, is almost finished and sits right on the edge of the water at Maho Beach. It will be an adults-only limitless all-inclusive resort, featuring three swimming pools with private gazebos and cabanas. This resort is going to be stunning.

Sonesta Great Bay's Solarium
Sonesta Ocean Point Azul Rooftop Bar
Sonesta Great Bay St. Maarten
Sonesta Great Bay
Sonesta Great Bay
Sonesta Great Bay

Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Sonesta Great Bay because Hurricane Gonzalo had other plans for my trip to St. Maarten. I intend to come back for the launch of their newest resort and will get a chance to visit Great Bay as well.


Things to Do on St. Maarten

During my visit to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, I did manage to tear myself away from hours of lounging on the beach, watching the planes land, stuffing myself at one of the resort’s many restaurants, and floating in the pool with a drink. I had heard so many great things about St. Maarten, so I was excited to see the rest of the island.

Mind you, I had visited the day after Hurricane Gonzalo, so there was considerable damage to a large portion of the island. One thing I did notice was the way the locals really pulled together to help each other and managed to stay positive. I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to have your home or business ripped to pieces without warning.


Spend a Day Driving Around the Island

I booked a car from Hertz in the lobby of the hotel and sped off in search of the best beaches in St. Maarten. A few of my favorites were Grand Case, Mullet Bay, Cupecoy Beach, and, of course, Pinel Island (I’ll get to that later). I had heard great things about the snorkeling at Happy Bay, but the water was too churned up from the hurricane during my visit.

Pinel Island St Maarten

I just want to mention that it IS possible to get lost while driving in St. Maarten. I know everyone says it’s so easy to navigate and there is only one main road, but I’m here to tell you… it’s possible. Get a good map (with street names) and don’t count on your GPS!


Beach BBQ at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort

Every Friday night, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort hosts a beach barbecue with a full outdoor buffet. This was the first time I had ever seen live fire dancers and I found myself mesmerized by them.

The best part about a beach barbecue at your resort is that you don’t have to drive and you can stumble back to your room whenever you get tired. After the festivities on Friday night, you can have a relaxing Saturday night by watching an outdoor movie by the pool.

Maho Beach Resort St. Maarten


Spend a Day on the Water with Coconut Reef Tours

On my last full day on the island, I decided to book a boat tour around the island. I waited until the last minute and inquired with the tour operator at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, who went over the weekend tour options with me. Due to my procrastination, I only had one option for a boat tour on Sunday (weekends is slim pickings on the island) but it turned out to be the perfect tour.

Pinel Island St Maarten
Pinel Island

Coconut Reef sent a driver to my hotel and brought me to a cute little french bakery in Simpson Bay, where the speed boat departs. The tour stops on Tintamarre Island, Pinel Island, and Happy Bay. S

ince Happy Bay wasn’t very clear after the storm, our boat captain took us to the Atlantic side of the island to a dive spot with reef sharks. My favorite part of the tour was spending time in the water with the turtles at Tintamarre and feeding wild iguanas at Pinel Island.

See a few of the highlights from my trip to St. Maarten and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in the video below.



Plan Your Trip to St. Maarten

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  • Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.


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Thanks to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort for hosting my stay at their resort. As always, all opinions are my own.

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  1. Paula Mendenall says:

    I’m so happy to find your review of St. Maarten! My husband and I will be going in July for our honeymoon. We are staying for 5 nights and was wondering if you recommend any particular days/nights? I think the beach bbq sounds like so much fun and want to capture all the events possible. Thanks!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Yay! I’m glad it was helpful! If you can coordinate it with the Beach BBQ, I think it’s definitely worth it. I don’t know of any other particular events they have going on throughout the week. If you can make it out on a snorkel tour while you are there, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!!

  2. Your photos are awesome! Where did you take that photo of the concrete bridge with the ocean?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thank you! It’s the pier at Grand Case.

  3. My hubby is from SXM and we been going to visit family for the past 17 years. Mullet bay is my favorite beach by far, maho is a close second (when it’s calm). Pinel is gorgeous!
    Was the french bakery called Zee Best? Love that place!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I wish I could remember the name of the bakery! Does Maho get big waves often? I was told it’s fairly calm, but there was some crazy shore break when we were there!

      1. Wanda Mingo says:

        Maho can be rough at times. We’ve seen waves crashing up over the road. It’s usually one of the more calm beaches but, like most other beaches, it can change from day to day.

  4. Meenakshi Arora says:

    This place is so awesome in looks. Pinel Island Beach is nice.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      It’s insanely photogenic. 🙂

  5. DeJav Speller says:

    This is like one of the places that I have dreams about like being in paradise must say. Must have been nice.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      It’s pretty dreamy.

  6. Jennifer Cena says:

    Amazing photos, I particularly love that one with the Sonesta Mhaho beach resort.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thanks, Jennifer!

  7. Michelle Webber says:

    This place looks amazing! Well, there’s another item on my ridiculously long bucket list! Thanks Christy!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Haha. I’m glad I could help. 😉

  8. Katie McGrain says:

    Ah Maho Beach Resort! I have stayed here more times than I can count. I love the whole island of St. Maarten, but Maho is where I stay. Mostly because it is right there and no need to rent a car. There are actually some villas up the road from Maho Beach Resort that we rented for a month!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      That’s awesome, Katie! I love the fact that there is no need to rent a car — especially if down time is what you want. Thanks for sharing.

    2. I have the option of staying in Maho Bay, St Maarten at the Royal Islander or Oyster Bay in Philipsburg. Can you give me your opinion on location and hotel stay. We are traveling with our teenage daughter.

      1. Katie McGrain says:

        Hey Emily, I personally always choose to stay in Maho Bay. Phllipsburg is where the cruise ships come in and it is filled with tourists, though I believe Oyster Bay is a private gated resort, so that keeps things quiet. I would stay in Maho then travel around the island and visit the other places. My family traveled to St. Maarten just about every year when I was growing up and we used to stay in a private villa somewhere on the island (isolated). Once we became teenagers, we started renting a condo in Maho Bay because my siblings and I were not as bored! Because of this, as an adult I now always stay in Maho! The Sonesta Maho is the main resort, but there are other beautiful condos set back a bit from the main strip – my most recent stay was in a 3 bedroom villa that I found on air bnb-it was amazing! Maho Bay has a lot of family friendly restaurants, a couple of beaches, and of course the famous airport and planes landing just overhead. Hope that helps!

        1. Ordinary Traveler says:

          I second what Katie said!!