A Gourmand’s Tour of St. Maarten

Foodies often call St. Maarten “the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” with French and Dutch influences merging to create a Caribbean cuisine like no other. Chefs and food-lovers alike flock to this small island to taste the unique food fusion.

When visiting the island, if you only have just a few hours to burn, or if you’re looking to add a bit of excitement to your leisurely vacation, we recommend taking a Culinary Road Tour with Flavors of St. Maarten Food Tours. You’ll experience a full range of foods St. Maarten has to offer as the signature 4-hour tour takes you to the French and Dutch sides of the island.

Bring your appetite and prepare to chow down at four different restaurants where you’ll enjoy appetizers, entrées, cocktails and desserts. The tour begins at Carousel Gelateria in Simpson Bay, and from there, you board an air-conditioned coach to head to four locations for local specialties served up by the best cooks, bakers and bartenders on both sides of the island. You’ll gain insight into the island’s fascinating history while you travel through cities, countryside, and beaches, finishing your tour on a sweet note.

While the tour does not cater to vegans, or anyone with allergies to onions, bell pepper or cilantro, they can accommodate vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten-free and dairy-free diets and nut allergies. However, they cannot not guarantee 100% free cross-contamination.

The tours consist of only small groups, and everyone is asked to wear a mask, wash hands frequently before and after stops, and maintain physical distancing at all times. Right now, you can book your tour for only $129.99 for adults and $99 for children. Private tours and a 2-hour walking tour are also offered. For more information or to book a tour, visit stmartinfoodtours.com.

Discover Buck Island on St. Croix

Set sail for a small, uninhabited patch of land just off the coast of St. Croix. Beautiful Buck Island is a pristine national monument protected by the National Park Service, which sees nearly 50,000 visitors per year.

It’s no surprise why this tiny island is so popular. Sandy shores combined with colorful coral reefs and a lush landscape make this the perfect island for exploring, hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing.

There’s truly something for everyone on Buck Island. Turtle Beach, located on the west end of the island, was voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic readers for its picture-perfect white sands and turquoise waters. Plus, there’s hiking right on the island, and the shores surrounding Buck Island are ideal for swimming. Snorkelers will love exploring the underwater trail, which is one of only three in the United States, where they’ll find coral reefs teeming with marine life.

If you want to discover everything Buck Island has to offer, you’ll have to book a tour as the island is only accessible by boat to preserve its vibrant marine life. If you’re staying at Divi Carina Bay All-Inclusive Beach Resort on St. Croix, this natural wonderland is just a short boat ride away, and family-owned and operated Buck Island Charters is your go-to for the best experience. They are the only chartered tour company on St. Croix that uses sail power alone, and they’ve been doing so since 1968!

It’ll be smooth sailing aboard the Teroro II or Dragonfly with Captain Carl or Captain Heinz at the helm. They’ll treat you to a personalized tour of Buck Island that includes sailing, snorkeling and hiking. The charter provides snorkel gear and excellent instruction with a guided tour through the underwater trail and time to do your own exploring.

Weather permitting, you’ll visit the underwater trail first where you’ll spend an hour or so snorkeling. You’ll then sail over to Turtle Beach where you’ll spend around an hour and a half enjoying a self-guided hike to the top of the island to a wooden overlook with spectacular views, laying on the beach, or snorkeling the blue waters surrounding the island.

All you need to bring is your bathing suit, beach towel, reef-safe sunscreen, hat or cover-up, water shoes and sneakers or hiking shoes, a camera, a water bottle and snacks or lunch.

Captain Heinz and Captain Carl are a father and son team that have been sailing St. Croix’s waters for more than 30 years, so you know you’re in good hands. They’re happy to share their local knowledge with visitors and would love to have you aboard on their next trip.

To learn more about Buck Island Charters, visit www.gotostcroix.com/heinz or call 340-718-3161. For more information on Buck Island, visit www.nps.gov/buis/index.htm.