As the two names suggest this is the
most unique Island in the Caribbean.
Dutch and French share this two country
situation without borders. Other than
signs that say “Welcome to the
Dutch Side” and “Welcome
to the French Side” you would
think it was one country.
Roughly 37 square miles offers breathtaking
views from beautiful mountain Vistas
of the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans.
A scenic "loop" around the
island can take just half a day, including
plenty of stops.
If you head up the east shoreline
follow the signs to Dawn
Beach and Oyster Pond. The road
winds past soaring hills, turquoise
quaint West Indian houses, and wonderful
views of St. Barths. As you cross
over to the French side, the road
leads from the islands oldest settlement,
known as the French
Quarter to Cule
de Sac and the secluded, luxurious
Marcel or you can drive directly
to the "restaurant capital of
the Caribbean" Grand
Following the street you reach Marigot
the capital of the French side and
Ground . From Marigot, the flat
island of Anguilla
is visible. Completing the loop brings
you past Cupecoy
Beach, through Maho
Bay , where Saba looms in the
horizon, and back over the mountain
road into Philipsburg.
The 38 Beaches of St. Martin/St. Maarten
are world famous for their beautiful
white sand and turquoise water. Each
beach is unique, and all beaches are
open to the public. Coral reefs populated
by colorful marine life fringe the
coast, and several tiny islets with
lovely beaches are just a short distance
St. Martin is only a quick flight
away from the islands of Saba, St.
Eustatius, St. Barths, and Anguilla;
enabling visitors to sample a wide
variety of beaches and surroundings.
Bay is particularly enticing for
its wide expanse of velvety white
sand, its underwater marine reserve
with a coral reef that is great for
snorkeling, and the variety of water
sports that are offered here.
At one end there is a naturist resort,
and the beach there is purely clothing-optional.
In general, the attitudes toward topless
bathing are fairly relaxed and sophisticated
in St. Martin. There is one part of
Orient Beach which is reserved for
The best places to find St. Martin shopping outlets are in Marigot on the French
side and Philipsburg on the Dutch. Front Street is Philipsburg's main duty-free
drag, with dozens of quaint shops and elegant boutiques to choose from. Look
for Carat and Little Europe for an fine selection of china and jewelry.
The rue de la Liberté and rue de la République in Marigot top French
St. Martin shopping destinations, where a charming jumble of architecture houses
the city's chic shops and duty-free boutiques. For cosmetics and perfume Lipstick
is the place to be, while you could do practically all of your St. Martin shopping
at Manek's, which sells a diverse group of duty-free favorites.
in Philipsburg are open all day Monday
through Saturday, and some are open
on Sunday if there is a cruise ship
in port. In Marigot, the shops tend
to close between noon and I p.m.
and reopen at 3:00 p.m. until the
late afternoon or early evening.
Most businesses are closed on Sunday, and so are many restaurants. Grocery stores
are open Monday - Saturday 8:00a.m. - 8:00p.m., Sunday 9:00a.m. - 1:00p.m.
In Philipsburg, specialties of
Front Street include everything
from Swiss watches and French
perfumes to British cashmeres,
Chinese embroidery, Japanese
electronics and cameras, Indonesian
batiks, and Italian leather
goods One can also browse through
a vast collection of fine jewelry,
crystals, linens, porcelain,
liquor and cigars.
Local grocery stores will come
in handy if your hotel room has
a small refrigerator or kitchen.
And if you are looking for interesting
gifts, such as exotic sauces,
or cheeses and chocolates, you
will find some great buys. Unlike
many shops, grocery stores list
prices in Guilders and Euros only,
so you have to do a little arithmetic
to figure out the value of your
purchases. If you tell the cashier
you wish to pay in Dollars, the
Cash register will do the conversion
island has 12 supermarkets, 68 grocery
stores, five gas marts and an open
market. Supermarkets account for
about 85 percent of the retail sector
The selection is fantastic! If you
are a visitor from the States, you
will most likely find products you
are accustomed to on the Dutch side.
Europeans will feel right at home
in the markets on the French side.
The French and Dutch sides of St.
Martin share a similar culture, but
each has its own distinguishing features.
Both the French and Dutch sides of
St. Martin are rich in culture that
has been influenced by Africa and
Europe. Although French St. Martin
and Dutch St. Maarten are in fact
two distinct countries, they share
a single small island. Each side has
an an intriguing culture of shared
and individual aspects seen in the
religion, language, cuisine, and music.
The Caribbean love of rhythym is world
renowned. Nowhere else in the world
is there as great a variety of music
styles as in the Caribbean.
The true voice of the Caribbean
is found in the region's unique
musical styles. The original rhythms
of this amazing part of the world
mostly come from African roots and
use a lot of drums. The types of
music that have originated from
the Caribbean region include calypso,
merengue, soca, zouk, reggae. All
of these styles of music share certain
distinguishing features such as
infectious dance rhythms and outlandish
Combined, the French and Dutch sides
of St. Martin have a population
of about 69,000 people.
In the past 20 years, immigrants
have flocked to the island to find
employment and better living conditions,
and the native population of Creoles
has been greatly outnumbered by
those who have migrated to the island.
Today, representatives of 70 different
nationalities live on the island and
speak a number of different languages.
The native inhabitants of St. Martin
can trace their roots to Africa, the
Netherlands, or France, as St. Martin
was a crossroads for visitors to the
Dutch, French and British traders
inhabited the island. The border between
the Dutch and French sides of the
island is virtually imperceptible,
and although the two countries share
many aspects of culture and heritage,
each side has retained much of the
distinctiveness of its own national
The policy of the two governments
administratively responsible for
the island, have both considering
things the same way since they approved
the same statutes for both side
of the island: exempted of tax,
customs, with simple formalities
for business who wish to invest
on the islands.
But with the time, the Dutch side
made a few changed in its statute
and has today a government with
locally more autonomy. The French
side is in the process of changing
its statute, by normally 2007Saint
Martin should not be one commune
of Guadeloupe any more but a regional
to do and to see on while you're vacationing on St.Martin