Splashing into SXM Festival and the Burgeoning Paradise of Sunny Saint Martin

Splashing into SXM Festival and the Burgeoning Paradise of Sunny Saint Martin

Revel in the finest food and accommodations on this island festival without missing a beat.

Revel in the finest food and accommodations on this island festival without missing a beat.

Photography: Alec Donnell Luna

Photography: Off Brand Project

Text: Graham Berry

Set in the stylish luxury of Saint Martin’s panoramic beaches and rejuvenating salty breeze, the elegant SXM Festival is a pervasive display of splendor in the heart of Caribbean paradise. At first glance, it’s easy to see another music-centric event wrapped in a getaway, but at this event the longer you look, the more there is to see. In fact, the intrigue that tends to capture the imagination of travelers who venture into the many towns on the island lends itself to enrich the festival experience at SXM Festival as much as the festival nourishes local businesses and tourism on the island. Through a combination of lush natural bliss, immense cultural diversity, daring adventures, and a lineup with enough titans to make even the most refined connoisseurs of house and techno rubberneck, SXM Festival is quickly finding a home in the hearts of travelers, thrill seekers, and festival-goers far and wide. Perhaps more importantly, this event follows an ethos to make a local impact.

   The SXM Festival experience is as much about attendees immersing themselves in the local culture and community of St Martin as it is about enjoying our amazing venues and music programming.” The Founder and Chief Creative Officer of SXM Festival, Julian Prince explains. “Our hope is that people leave with a piece of the island in their soul and the positive feeling that comes from supporting its diverse locals. Of course there is a direct sense of monetary aid that comes from supporting local businesses, but we also encourage festival-goers to get involved in Beach Cleanups, playground building, and other activities.” 

Courtesy of Off Brand Project

Anywhere you go, the people are warm and helpful. They love telling stories and laughing at jokes. The markets are rich with history and traditional islander food and the villas, hotels and resorts are full-fledged dreams too. From the heavenly 5-starred Belmond La Samanna and the posh villas at St Martin Blue to the famed Sol E Luna hotel, which is one of the most casually cute and still affordable accommodations on the island - there’s never a shortage of real-life fantasy in Saint Martin. As a matter of fact, just a short drive from each there’s a smorgasbord of local dining options peppered over the map, so a set of taste buds are at times the most ideal compass. La Pressoir, for instance, is said to be “the best of land and sea”. Think surf and turf as an explosion of refined French flavors. At Ocean82, travelers enjoy exquisite seafood with majestic panoramic views. For seared duck, rack of lamb, or a porterhouse that will make your tongue cry tears of joy: JAX is another local favorite. For an unbeatable lunch, there are two infamous Bistro’s on the island. The first is Emilio’s in the heart of Rainforest Park, serving stylish Dutch cuisine. Ask for the short rib bolognaise with pappardelle for a meal devoid of conversation. It never fails. For something with a bit more Je ne sais quoi Mario’s is a decadent French Bistrot, with an unbeatable wine list and flavor combinations that will be a surefire highlight whether you’re visiting on the island for a week or putting down roots to live a lifetime here. It’s breath-taking beverage and food experiences like these that seed the unmistakable charm of Saint Martin with memories and friendships that will stand the test of time. 

“The best thing about St Martin is that there is something for literally everyone.” Prince smiles. “You can still find a $1 beer at an amazing beach bar or you can treat yourself to a five-star gastronomie meal before going back to your cliffside villa.” 

Courtesy of Off Brand Project

The island is home to more than one hundred different nationalities including Latino, Creole, Dutch, French, and Indian. Each brings their own cuisine, art, and culture - further distinguishing SXM Festival from its peers. It’s this interweaving of cultures that is both a source of civic pride for locals and a crown jewel at the SXM Festival. It was always front and center for those who live there, but it flew into fourth gear when the island was hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017. It was then that the organizers of SXM Festival joined arms with locals to rally in the ongoing rebuild efforts. Last year, for instance, the beach stages were mindfully sculpted with fallen branches and woven palm leaves that were reclaimed after the hurricane. Beyond the gates, the island boasts a veritable trove of experiential treasures too. Snorkeling, deep-sea diving, fishing and boating are a favorite pastime on the island, while the food is sought after by chefs and caterers from every continent on the planet. For photo opportunities and careening thrills through the wonderland of the island take a day to visit the Rainforest Adventure Park. It’s here you can soar through the sky on a zipline, experience the Caribbean version of a ski lift, and jet through turns like a bobsledder on the schooner. 

Looking to peruse the hidden beaches and jungle parties? Give this video a quick watch!

© Geoffrey Hubbel

“Our greatest hope is that our SXM Festival family allow themselves to get caught up in the flow of the event and in turn get the most immersive tour of the island possible. You can watch the sunrise at Happy Bay or Boho Beach before jumping on a morning boat party on your way to the jungle party at Loterie Farms or the jaw-dropping Villa Party in the evening.”

Looking to learn more? Visit the SXM website or reach out to the Saint Martin Tourism Board.

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Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2020