SXM Festival
Credit: Ded Pixel + Alec Donnell Luna, Ded Agency

 SXM Festival, a “beautiful” boutique electronic music experience founded by Canadian Julian Prince, kicks off its second year March 15-19, 2017 in colourful St. Martin-Sint Maarten. Besides staying hydrated, bringing sunscreen, and earplugs, be sure to bookend your trip with extra days to take in this Caribbean island’s 36 beaches, stunning scenery and delicious restaurants. I attended the highly-acclaimed festival debut last year. Here are some wanderlust tips to make the most of your SXM Festival experience:

 

1. If you cannot swing the VIP upgrade (highly recommended), be sure to purchase a Festival shuttle pass. It is fast, efficient and you don’t have to worry about securing parking or being a designated driver. Do rent a car for your extra days to take in some side trips or do some watersports.

2. Relax poolside to one of the festival DJs one afternoon at Hotel Mercure, SXM Festival’s headquarters. Stroll this Accor-property’s impressive artistically curated grounds, relaxing hammock village and palm tree farm overlooking Nettle Baie. Leave room in your camera for the art.

sxm festivalDed Pixel + Alec Donnell Luna, Ded Agency

3. Layla’s is conveniently located by Hotel Mercure and where the sunrise day parties will be. Beat the crowds and enjoy some excellent Caribbean cuisine before hitting a day party.

4. Take an hour to visit the small but crazy Maho Beach. Here you can experience commercial airplanes flying 100 feet above your head into the neighbouring airport! What?! Earplugs and video cameras recommended.

5. Unwind at the tranquil Butterfly Farm. Located near Orient Beach, the St. Tropez of SXM, this magical butterfly sanctuary, founded by Englishmen William Slater and John Coward in 1994, houses over 100 species of vibrant butterflies and tropical flowers. You will feel rejuvenated and transported. Your admission is good for the week, so be sure to return.

SXM FestivalDed Pixel + Alec Donnell Luna, Ded Agency

6. This year’s day parties have relocated from Orient Beach to Happy Bay, St. Martin’s favourite secluded white sand beach. Located just north of Friar’s Bay, be sure to escape and enjoy a delicious French meal in neighbouring Grand Case. Baccus offers a stunning sunset and exquisite wine list. Le Calmos Café and Sunset Café also boast similar sunset experiences. You can book a room at Sunset if you prefer to be closer to the day parties.  

7. Zipline through the treetops or lounge over a healthy meal in your own private cabana at Loterie Farm. This lush paradise, once home to a sugar cane plantation, hosted last year’s VIP party. Located close to the day parties, Loterie Farm’s gorgeous cascading infinity pools are a nice way to decompress mid-festival. Bring a floatie!

8. Enjoy SXM’s signature wild guavaberry rum at a bar or the famous Guavaberry Rum Emporium on Front Street. Purchase a traveller and stroll along the boardwalk or visit Star Wars’ FX-man, Nick Maley’s Yoda Guy Museum.

SXM FestivalDed Pixel + Alec Donnell Luna, Ded Agency

9. Dance under the stars at chic SKY Bar on a clear night and be prepared to get lost in Refuge, Sint Maarten’s mega club. The black light visuals in Tantra are spectacular. Dirty Sanchez and 3 Amigos are new venues for this year. Feeling lucky and want a break from the party? Casino Royale is a great way to increase your dollar. Word to the wise: bring USD as the Euro-to-USD conversion on the island was often 1:1 last year.

10. Book a day trip to Anguilla, St. Barth’s (their Nikki Beach is across from Orient Beach) or Pinel Island. Or jump aboard a catamaran for a day trip around a number of neighbouring islands! Definitely do this before the festival starts or as part of your decompression so you don’t miss a minute of the impeccably coordinated day parties.


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