Simpson Bay (Where to Stay and What to Do)

Sint Maarten’s other biggest draw, other than Philipsburg, of course, has everything you could look for in an animated, vibrant, and energetic time in the islands. The Dutch side is known for fun, and quirky twists and Simpson Bay is Sint Maarten’s answer to a plethora of tourists’ woes.
Simpson Bay
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From Maho Beach to The Villas, Simpson Bay is brimming with things to experience. The bay, for all intents and purposes, is Sint Maarten’s testament to its reputation as the “Fun Central” of the island.

Where Is Simpson Bay?

Simpson Bay lies at the southwestern side of Saint Martin island, within the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. The bay is home to Princess Juliana International Airport, the main transportation hub of the entire island, where it also separates the lagoon from the Caribbean Sea.

The bay is one of the most happening areas on the island, second to the capital of Philipsburg. Simpson Bay’s coasts are lined with several beautiful beaches that feature the best of Sint Maarten, restaurants, and bars that cater to the tourists arriving from the airport and the cruise terminal in Philipsburg.

Simpson Bay is also characterized by an inland lagoon to the north, also called Simpson Bay Lagoon. The border of the Dutch and French side runs through the center of the lagoon, just off the Princess Juliana International Airport.

Is Simpson Bay on the Dutch or French Side?

Simpson Bay is on the Dutch side of the island, located on the southwestern reaches. The bay is easy to get to coming from the Princess Juliana International Airport as it sits right across the beach, and would take around 18 minutes to drive from Philipsburg.

Where Is Simpson Bay Beach?

Simpson Bay Beach is located right in the middle of Simpson Bay, facing the great Caribbean at the island’s southwestern side. Simpson Bay Beach itself, although not as much of a hit as Maho Beach to the west, also helps define the beauty that Sint Maarten can offer.

Despite being in one of the most famous areas on the island, Simpson Bay Beach is relatively quieter and more relaxing because of the absence of huge crowds. The entire stretch of this curved strip of white sand is ideal for those looking for a real, classic beach experience such as swimming, walking along the shore, and maybe even windsurfing a bit. There aren’t many facilities around, but the best thing about the area is the classic natural beauty of a quiet beach and the joy that comes with having it to yourself.

How Long Is Simpson Bay Beach?

Simpson Bay Beach has an approximate length of around 4.48 kilometers or 2.8 miles. Yet, despite this length, the beach stays quieter than its neighbors, making it a lot more charming, a bit quaint, and gives a more laid-back time on the island.

Where Is Simpson Bay Lagoon?

Simpson Bay Lagoon is located on the southwestern side of the island of Saint Martin, on the Dutch Sint Maarten. The lagoon is one of the largest inland lagoons in the Caribbean and has islets in it – Grand Ilet, and the Little Key. Simpson Bay Lagoon stretches parallel with the Princess Juliana International Airport and is divided between the Dutch and French sides at the center.

The lagoon is extremely important for the island’s economy as it is an important source for one of Sint Maarten’s main industries; marine agriculture. Sint Maarten’s marine agriculture is centered around the lagoon, representing 12.5% of the economy. Because of its economic value, the lagoon’s waters are protected to help life in it flourish and thrive.

How Far Is Simpson Bay From the Cruise Port?

The famous Simpson Bay is approximately 12 kilometers or 7.4 miles from the cruise port on the capital of Philipsburg, on the complete opposite side. The best way to get to the bay from the cruise port is by taxi or public transport with each having its own drawbacks.

A rental car option can somewhat be economical or not in Sint Maarten, depending on your purpose of getting one, and how long you’re going to use it if you’re a cruiser. Group vans are also available for cruisers to go to different key locations on the island but for a high price, so you have to be wise.

Cruise tourists tend to descend from their cruise ships in Sint Maarten, to three key places on the Dutch side; the city of Philipsburg, Simpson Bay, and the neighboring and well-known Maho Beach, and its surrounding places. And with Simpson Bay’s reputation, you cna be sure to have transport at relative ease.

How Far Is Simpson Bay From the Airport?

Simpson Bay runs parallel with Princess Juliana International Airport, and one can say that the airport itself is in the bay’s area. It takes less than 10 minutes to go out of the airport and get to the bay, as it is less than a kilometer away.

Tourists and passengers coming from the airport who have accommodations in the bay will have no difficulties due to the two’s practically the same address. You can book your accommodation in the many resorts that dot the shores of the bay, and especially around Simpson Bay Beach.

Is Simpson Bay Safe?

Simpson Bay is relatively safe for people to enjoy, and explore around. The water around the bay is sheltered and thus made safe for swimming and snorkeling, and a perfect place for young families to enjoy. The bay itself is considered to be a quiet place to relax and just have a laid-back time, as opposed to the bay’s neighboring bays and beaches.

People have been known to have walked along the beach when the sun is up and have found the area to be quite safe, except when the sun comes down as certain areas are not well lit.

Where to Stay in Simpson Bay

If you decide to stay around Simpson Bay, well, you’re in luck. Thanks to the fame and reputation of the area among tourists, it is home to many of the island’s top-rated stays, serving up that coveted Sint Maarten experience.

One of the highest-rated resorts on the island, you can stay right on Flamingo Beach Resort, offering 240 suites and rooms, and some well-loved services and amenities that are said to be outstanding for a 3.5-star resort.

When you say Simpson Bay, Royal Palm Beach always comes to mind. What makes this resort ideal is that it lies just near the airport and on the beach. Boasting over 140 rooms with kitchens, along with amenities and services that are just some of the best on the island. The bonus? You get to have both a swimming pool and the beach here.

If you want cheaper prices, with more intimacy, but with the beauty of an expensive resort, you can book in one of the four well-decorated and air-conditioned rooms of El Zafiro Boutique Hotel. Designed to make you feel at home, with a tinge of upscale living, this boutique hotel also offers spa services, from deep-tissue massage to facials.

Another worthy entry is The Villas At Simpson Bay Beach Resort and Marina, when you say luxury living right at the famous Simpson Beach, then The Villas is clearly one of the first choices. The property boasts its sweeping ocean views, pools, restaurants, and a water sports center. You can have a rich experience on this side of the island with all its services and amenities akin to a four-star premier stay.

If you’re up for a luxury stay with a side of the aesthetics, The Morgan Resort Spa Village is one of the island’s architectural gems that offers world-class 124 guest rooms, that oozes chic and style. The resort has an infinity-edge pool, with a view of the Caribbean Sea. As its name suggests, the resort also has a luxurious spa, and a fitness center, and the suites have complimenting spa-inspired showers.

Simpson Bay Resort vs. Villas

While both Simpson Bay Resort and The Villas are premier destinations to experience Simpson Bay and Sint Maarten in general, however, the best deciding factor regarding which is better will always be based on what you want to experience.

Simpson Bay Resort, when the two are compared, is known for its number of rooms and its accessibility to the beach, and it is preferred by more people because it is slightly cheaper than The Villas. Other facilities include six pools and four restaurants, and its 342 rooms are stylish and have full kitchens giving you the liberty to your diet and spending. However, it does not offer an all-inclusive package.

The Villas At Simpson Bay is, for the most part, has the same thing going on with Simpson Bay Resort, topped with higher rates due to its more upscale and luxury flavor. The 83-room resort is on oceanfront property, each room having a balcony or patio, and a full kitchen. The resort has two distinct features that its sister Simpson Bay Resort doesn’t have; its upscale spa, and better ocean views. The Villas basically speak luxury.

Is Simpson Bay Resort All-Inclusive?

The resort, despite its enormous size, and numerous services doesn’t have an all-inclusive package for its guests. However, given the amenities, and full kitchens each room has, it could more than compensate for its lack thereof.

Best Restaurants Simpson Bay

Dining in Simpson Bay is always a good idea, especially when the entire marina is lined with some of the island’s top-notch restaurants and bars, and Emilio’s has been one of the strongest contenders out there.

Emilio’s restaurant officers a rather interesting fusion of high-end dining and history as the restaurant is set in the 18th century Sugar Cane boiling house, complemented with some of the best Caribbean flavors combined with famous French refinement.

Isola is a culinary powerhouse all the way from sunny Italy to southern Europe, offering Northern Italian cooking at the heart of the Dutch Caribbean culinary landscape. The ingredients used are exceedingly fresh, a continuous tradition of the Italian people, you would think you’re in Italy.

From classic pasta and seafood dishes to amazing brick oven pizzas, it’s a taste of Europe in a small slice of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. You can head down to Isola Restaurant in the Hollywood Casino in Simpson Bay.

Where Is the Best Food in Simpson Bay?

There isn’t much debate about the Caribbean, French, and Dutch fusion of Sint Maarten’s culinary bets, but pinning down which is the best might be a tad bit difficult for self-professed foodies from all over the world. And quite frankly, with the range of cuisines and restaurants readily available for the adventurous it is not just a matter of a b or c.

Emilio’s offers the best Caribbean dishes, Isola and IZI compete for the best Italian menu, while La Sucriere offers the best French cooking, there are so many to choose from that have constantly been highly rated by patrons, and visiting foodies.

The best thing to do now is to take the raters’ word for its on TripAdvisor, and other similar platforms because chances are, most entries you’ll definitely see are directly from the palate to the web reviews.

Where Is the Best Breakfast in Simpson Bay?

When you say breakfast, you may hear three names that have constantly been highly rated, and is regular word-of-mouth around the area; Vesna Taverna, Zee Best, and, Topper’s. If you find yourself frequenting Simpson Bay the entire time you’ll be in Sint Maarten, you can expect to frequent these three as well. Or whatever floats your boat.

Vesna Taverna is best known for its casual setting that seems to not make a big deal out of itself, although it probably should. The restaurant serves a wide array of dishes and cuisine that covers the Mediterranean, French, and Caribbean flavors. They serve breakfast with an American standard, which you can top off with the best Greek yogurt on this side of the island.

Zee Best is popular among tourists for breakfast and lunch, thanks to their artisanal bread that are just tres French, and bakes fresh every day. The breakfast menu starts at 7:30 am, with fresh juices, crepes, and signature egg dishes. Pair them all with their wide selection of coffees.

Topper’s isn’t only a breakfast and lunch place, it’s also big on dinner and whatever comes after that. Serving guests for a decade Topper’s has a reputation untainted by time because in Topper’s it’s not just on the food being served, but with the experience that comes with eating with them.

Topper’s serves an American-style breakfast that is universally loved by tourists and locals, and other dishes offering something for everyone. Never going out of style.

Things to Do Simpson Bay

Simpson Bay is like a big tourist hotspot in itself, inside of an even bigger tourist hotspot that is Sint Maarten, which just happens to be one half of an island, jampacked with all the good things you’d expect in a proverbial tourist destination in the Caribbean. With that said, you can expect to find tons of things to do in just a stretch within an island, here are some of them:

There’s nothing better to start off your Simpson Bay itinerary than to get the lay and the feel of the area than to set out on foot. As you wander through this jampacked area of Sint Maarten, you’ll eventually explore places and things the most coveted list didn’t include. Let the area open itself to you, and let the possibilities come to you, it won’t be much of an adventure if you’re too rigid with your options.

If you’re the high-rolling type or at least have a wider budget you can take a private boat charter with an open bar. Most boat charters last for four hours taking you not just around Simpson Bay, but the surrounding beaches and bays as well, even out into the ocean. Private boat charters can cost around 500 USD per person, depending on the package.

If you like a beach with an interesting twist, the famous Maho Beach just might be in your alley. Take a drive to Maho Beach, west of central Simpson Bay, right at the edges of the Princess Juliana International Airport. You can head down to the fine white sand beach strip, chill for a bit at the Sunset Bar & Grill on the beach, and check their chalkboard list of flight arrivals so you can catch incoming planes that fly just over the beach.

One thing that Simpson Bay is famous for is that it is lined with a plethora of restaurants and bars serving different cuisines from different parts of the world. Sint Maarten, apart from its cosmopolitan setting, is also the multicultural side of the island, with influences from South and East Asia, Middle East, to the rest of Europe. You can sample the flavors of the world by going on a walking food tour, or a DIY food tour.

Simpson Bay or Orient Bay Beach

If you visit Sint Maarten, you’ll soon discover that there is more than one happening place in the entire Dutch side, so it might be challenging to pin down which is which. Two of the most famous beaches on the island are Simpson Bay and Orient Bay, which often has a tight competition when it comes to which is better.

Orient Bay in the French side of Saint Martin, is reminiscent of chic Saint Tropez in the south of France. After bouncing back from the damage of Hurricane Irma in 2017, Orient Bay has retained its charm, with places like the famous Perch Bar Light, and the nude beach right at the southern end offering interesting experiences.

You also have the Orient Village, just adjacent to plenty of restaurants, beach bars, and many places where you can create your version of that fabled Saint Martin experience.

Simpson Bay on the other hand is rich with places to check out, and experiences to have. Staying true to Sint Maarten’s dynamic and animated flavor, you can find plenty of activities to do, from boat charter, yachting, and sailing, food tours, plane spotting, to a simple time on the beach.

The Dutch side’s famous bay is known for having one too many things and with good reason. Not to mention the way the bay comes alive at night, thanks to the many bars, clubs, and casinos in the area.

These two bays are famous in their own right offering distinct flavors, so what ultimately decides which one you should go for is what kind of experience you want to have. Or better yet, you’ll explore both while you’re at it, borders are non-existent after all.

Simpson Bay vs. Phillipsburg

Two of Sint Maarten’s biggest draws, both offer interesting things to everyone, but when you want a cosmopolitan feel, with all the shopping, right next to culture, Philipsburg is the place to go. You can check out many of the Dutch side’s history here, and a plethora of food places to check out. However, if you’re looking for a good party scene, Philipsburg is not really big on clubs and bars.

Simpson Bay is big on beach activities, bars, and restaurants. People often say that Simpson Bay is the most happening place on the Dutch side. You’ll have a wide selection of activities to choose from while having tons of interesting places to check out. However, the area lacks the charm of the local culture, unlike Philipsburg. Water activities and nightlife are some of the things that define the area.

It’s difficult to make a decision on which is better. But all you need to do is to decide on what wave you want to ride within Sint Maarten, as Philipsburg and Simpson may be on the same side but they have their own flavors and twists. Or better yet, let the magic of the island gets to you, and act accordingly.