Come and enjoy what St Maarten has best to offer: hike, dive, sail, go climb Mount Concordia or fish the giant marlin. On other days, shop the duty free outlets, try your luck in the many casinos or enjoy the numerous water sports on offer. St. Maarten is for those who like plenty to do on their Caribbean holiday!
Often referred to as the Crossroads of the Caribbean, St Maarten is located 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico, at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, and is a 3 hour-flight from New York City and a 2 hours and 45 minute- flight from Miami.
The 37-square-mile island is a story of two halves; to the North ‘St.Martin’ is French and to the south, the smaller half of the island ‘St Maarten’ is Dutch. The European style with warm hospitality is evident on both sides, and while you will hear a variety of languages spoken, such as French, Creole, Spanish and Papiamento, English is prevalent. The island has beautiful beaches, hilly terrain and lots of little coves and there are accommodation options for every style and budget.
The Capital on the Dutch half is Philipsburg, which began as a Dutch trading centre; the forts around the city are reminders of its strategic importance in St. Maarten’s history. Fort Amsterdam, built on a peninsula between Great Bay and Little Bay in 1631, was the first Dutch military outpost in the Caribbean and offers a stunning panoramic view of the city and surrounding islands. Soon after the fort was completed, it was captured by the Spanish. Today, the fort is a great place to go for a hike in the sunshine.
The city still reminds its visitors of its colonial past, and if you’re keen to know more, then pay a visit to The St. Maarten Museum where the items inside bring the story of the Dutch island’s history and culture to life. Within the museum you will see pottery from the Arawak Amerindians and items salvaged from a British ship that sank over 200 years ago. The city’s waterfront is a popular stop for cruise ships.
Compared to the Dutch side of the island, the French side is a little more sophisticated and is- perhaps unsurprisingly- famous for some of the best dining in the whole of the Caribbean. Just as you would in France, find yourself a nice spot in one of the many cafes and people-watch until your heart's content. Once you’ve had enough coffee, wander downtown to the popular open-air market that offers a mix of traditional Caribbean souvenirs and lovely locally made art… along with plenty of souvenirs to take home.
The nicest part is that because the island isn’t too big, it’s easy to get around (when armed with a map) and see what each side has to offer: rent a car for a day or two, use the local buses or negotiate a package with a local taxi driver.
If the idea of the perfect holiday is a Caribbean beach with gorgeous European food, with the added bonus of having warm temperatures all year-round (averaging at 27oC), then the island of St.Maarten/St.Martin is an ideal choice.