Boating and Sailing

The island is surrounded by water, so why not get out and enjoy it? The water and winds are perfect for skimming the surf. It'll cost you around $1,200 to $1,500 per day to rent a 28- to 40-foot powerboat, considerably less for smaller boats or small sailboats. Drinks and sometimes lunch are usually included on crewed day charters.

Dutch Side

Random Wind. This company offers full-day sailing and snorkeling trips on a traditional 54-foot clipper. Charter prices depend on the size of the group and whether lunch is served. The regularly scheduled Paradise Daysail ($109 adults, $85 kids) includes food and drink, snorkeling equipment, and standup paddleboard. Departures, weekdays at 9:45, are from SkipJack's at Simpson Bay. Everyone loves "flying" from the Tarzan swing. You can get the best rates from the website rather than hotels or cruises. Ric's Place, Simpson Bay, n/a St. Maarten. 721/587–5742; www.randomwind.com.

St. Maarten 12-Metre Challenge. Sailing experience is not necessary as participants compete on 68-foot racing yachts, including Dennis Connor's Stars and Stripes (the actual boat that won the America's Cup in Freemantle, Australia, in 1987), Canada II, and True North I. Everyone is allocated a crew position, either grinding winches, trimming sails, punching the stopwatch, or bartending. The thrill is priceless, but book well in advance; this is the most popular shore excursion in the Caribbean. It is offered up to four times daily and lasts 2½–3 hours. Children over 12 (7 with sailing experience) may participate. Bobby's Marina, Philipsburg, n/a St. Maarten. 721/542–0045; www.12metre.com.

Rhino Safari. Take a 2½-hour guided water tour around the island on a 10-foot inflatable watercraft. The boats are stable, easy to pilot, and riding the waves is a blast. The tour includes 45 minutes of snorkeling (equipment provided) at Creole Rock, one of the best spots on the island. Choose from several departures and routes every day. 58 Welfare Rd., Simpson Bay, n/a St. Maarten. 721/544–3150; www.rhinorides.com. From $138 for 2 people on 1 boat.

French Side

MP Yachting. You can rent boats of all sizes, with or without a crew, for short trips and long. Marina Port La Royale, Marigot, n/a St. Martin. 0690/53–37–40; www.mpyachting.com.

Sun Evasion. This charter company has locations all over the world. You can take a half- or full-day charter to Tintamarre, St. Barth, or Ilet Pinel on a mono- or multihull powerboat, available with or without a skipper. Book online for a 10% discount. Rue de Galisbay Port, Marigot, n/a St. Martin. 0690/35–03–18; www.sun-evasion.com.

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