The winding, hilly route to this town of some 20,000 offers breathtaking views of the rugged Atlantic coastline. Ste-Marie is the commercial capital of the island's north. Look for a picturesque mid-19th-century church here. Most come to the area to visit the St. James Distillery and its Musée du Rhum, but the north is also filled with immense natural beauty.
Nearby in Marigot, Habitation La Grange, originally the great house on a grand banana plantation that was converted into a deluxe, historical hotel in the ’90s, changed hands. The present owner, an architect, is currently involved in a major restoration, and it is slated to reopen as a boutique property in spring 2015.