Separated by an imaginary line, where one side belongs to the French and the other part belongs to the Dutch, you will find paradise. The islands of St. Martin and St. Maarten are located in the southern part of the Caribbean. Both islands have a combined population of about 100,000 people. With a diverse population that is made up of East Indian, Afro-Caribbean, European, and Chinese, the different cultures are reflected in the many dishes you will taste when you visit.
How did French and Dutch get to occupy these islands?
Well, in 1648, the Dutch and the French met and amicably decided to divide the island between them into two territories. This treaty is called the Treaty of Concordia. The natives did not have any say nor had to vote if they wanted to be occupied by those European countries.
And how did they divide the country?
According to the locals, both sides picked two people to walk in opposite directions, and the point where they met would be where they separate the country. Since the Dutch walker took a break and the French did not, so, the French ended with the bigger size of the island (53 km2 and 32 km2 for the Dutch). There are many other locals’ explanations of how the decision was made, but only those who attended this treaty knows.
The majority of the population lives in the capital. In Saint Martin, it is in Marigot; and St. Maarten, it is Philipsburg.
Although the French have the bigger part of the island, everything happens on the Dutch side. Most of the people in Saint Martin work and buy their goods in the Dutch part because it is cheaper and more jobs are available.
What are the Languages?
The people of the islands speak three to four languages: French, Spanish, English, and Dutch. However, French – Patois – is becoming a common language, because there are many people from Haiti and Dominica who migrated to the Islands.
What about Currency?
With multiple currencies used on the Islands: US Dollar, Euro, and Gilder. You do not have to exchange your money if you are from any of these countries.
Which of the islands should you visit?
Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, travelers get a chance to spend quality time in both of the islands.
Where to go? – It all depends on what you are looking for in your vacation.
The Dutch side – St. Maarten – is more lively, full of bars, lounges, and restaurants. There are several wonderful activities that you can do. You can climb the longest Sentry Hill Zip Line in the Caribbean and experience other incredible adventures.
The French part – Saint Martin – is more for travelers looking for relaxation, experience fantastic French cuisine, and beautiful beaches.
Here are my top 5 things to do in St. Maarten (Dutch)
- Explore the ruins where the Europeans entered the Caribbean islands – The Fort Amsterdam in Phillipsburg. Once you reach the top, you can have a panoramic view of the island.
- Marine Adventures – Hop on the boat tours, romantic sunset sails, exciting scuba diving, and snorkeling
- For the more adventurer travelers, the rainforest adventures at Rockland Estate are St. Maarten’s newest adventure. You cannot leave the island without trying the Flying Dutchman. Getting a 360-degree view of the island and taking a wild ride tubbing down the mountain.
- All I can say is – Maho Beach in Simpson Bay. This is where the island comes alive, and the party people hang out. If you are into the airplanes landing, you can see the airplanes roaring while flying above your head for a landing. Warning – the plane backdraft can knock you out in the middle of the ocean.
- Parrot Ville Bird Sanctuary – This place is filled with exotic and colorful birds. It is a museum full of the history of the island and an excellent area for kids to visit.
Here are my top 5 activities to do in Saint. Martin (French)
- Visit Fort St. Louis in Marigot – From the Fort, you can see a beautiful sight of the capital and get your camera ready for a picturesque scene.
- Loterie Farm – hidden away from the city in the hillside of Pic Paradis – where you can go to dine, climb, hike, and walk on the treetop canopy.
- Just Try a French baguette and pastries at the L’Express bakery or La Sucriere located in the center of Marigot. Grad some fresh croissants and coffee to stroll around town.
- Go to La Terrasse for dinner or a drink at the rooftop to watch the beautiful sunset.
- Take a walk around town and enjoy the architecture, colorful houses, and outdoor market.
How to get there?
Approximately three hours away from Florida, you can catch a nonstop flight on any of these airlines, American, JetBlue, and Air France to St. Maarten. A ticket will not break the bank, and that will cost you about 300 – 500 dollars.
Where to Stay in St. Maarten?
Hotels are not cheap on the islands. You can budget around 250 – 400 dollars a night for a suitable lodging during the peak seasons. If you are on a budget, I would recommend visiting during the low seasons, which is around the Summer months. The hotel prices will drop to about 50%.
The Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, located in Little Bay near Phillipsburg, is a fabulous resort to stay. Not far from Simpson Bay, there are plenty of activities held on the resort to keep you occupied. You can participate in the famous crab derby, and if you win, you can a free drink or pizza. It is also a fun place for kids, couples, and singles.
If you are looking for an island that has a bit of everything to do, nightlife, excellent restaurants, outdoor activities, and beach, the islands of St. Maarten and Saint Martin will meet your needs.
Although they are not one of the cheaper islands when compared to the Dominican Republic, Cuba or Curacao, you can visit two islands for one price. A four-day stay should be enough to do about everything, relax, water activities, and sunbathing. You can also explore nearby islands like Anguilla and St. Barts.
For a quick get-away, I would recommend the islands of Saint Martin and St. Maarten.
Are you looking for some more recommendations on where to spend your holidays, birthday or honeymoon, check out my other blogs?
Have you been to both islands? I would love to hear about your experience. Post it below!