Offering two vibrant, dynamically diverse cultures on one island, St. Martin/St.Maarten’s Dutch and French “sides” presents an extraordinary experience for travelers searching for much more than just your average getaway. First spotted by Christopher Columbus 400 years ago, St. Martin/St.Maarten is today a fascinating mix of French, Dutch, Caribbean and North American influences with hints of various other international cultures embedded in its distinct culture.
Discovering Dutch Culture-St. Maarten
Visiting the Dutch side, you’ll enjoy:
- Five-star restaurants specializing in Indian, Chinese, Italian, Greek and French dishes. West Indian meals include freshly snagged fish complemented by a range of ground/root crop sides.
- Spectacular views of neighboring islands across the warm, azure waters–St. Barts, Anquilla, Saint Kitts, Nevis and Saba
- High-end, luxuriously decorated casinos
- For the adventurous–ziplining above lush, tropical rain forests and swimming alongside graceful manta rays
- Deliciously smooth drinks made with native guavaberry liquors
- Spectacular entertainment venues featuring traditional Caribbean music and dance, calypso, reggae and jazz
- World-class accommodations (villas, hotels, beach condos, resorts) situated along the beautiful coast of the island or nestled within gated communities
- Quiet, remote beaches enhanced by exotic snorkeling spots near offshore cays (you’ll have to enlist the aid of an experienced charter captain to visit these beautiful areas)
- Maho village and its most popular attraction, the Sunset Bar and Grill. Nowhere else will you be able to watch jumbo jets land and take-off only hundreds of yards away while sipping a guavaberry/rum cocktail
Now, On to the French Side-St.Martin
- Wake up to hot coffee and mouth-watering French croissants while reading your complementary issue of the Miami Herald newspaper and listening to the La Voix 101.5 radio station. Between playing an eclectic assortment of music, DJs broadcast horoscopes, PSAs in English and French and happy birthday greetings to islanders.
- Visit wildlife sanctuary Loterie Farm, where you’ll want to trek through mango and mahogany forests to the top of Pic du Paradis (Paradise Peak)
- Watch terns, brown pelicans, gulls, herons and egrets congregate at salt ponds dotting the island while the sun sets in a spectacularly display of oranges, reds and roses
- Dive into St. Martin’s undersea world where a rainbow of tropical fish and corals swirl around you in their natural beauty.
- Indulge in a relaxing catamaran voyage to hidden island coves (perfect places for intimate tête-à-têtes)
- Spend endless, exciting days on the welcoming waters–waterskiing, jetskiing, kitesurfing, sailing, sea scootering, kayaking or deep-sea fishing
When the sun dips below the horizon, the party starts on St. Martin–pick from dozens of nightclubs frequented by the rich and famous–Coco Beach, L’Essentiel, Waïkiki Beach, Palm d’Or, the Rainbow Club. After a fun night of clubbing, let your guard down (and everything else!) at one of St. Martin’s one-of-a-kind nude beaches.
St. Barts and Anguilla Island-Just a Ferry Ride Away from St. Martin/St. Maarten
Nature lovers will thrill at the scenery and wildlife flourishing on St. Barts. Palm trees, sea grape trees, mangroves, Manchineel trees, Flamboyant trees and night-blooming cereus cover the island’s lovely, verdant terrain. Whales, porpoises and dolphins migrate to St. Barts between December and May. Leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles can be seen crawling slowly but surely along the coastline of St. Barts. These turtles are protected species that remain on the endangered list of reptiles. St. Barts avifauna include magnificent snowy egrets and frigate birds, belted kingfishers and green herons.
When you’re not enjoying the truly wild side of St. Barts, visit its designer boutiques, high-end jewelry stores and waterfront cafes. On the harbor’s far side, explore the Wall House, a surviving building from the island’s Swedish era that houses a museum and library chronicling the culture and history of Saint Barthélemy.
Scoot on over to Anguilla to laze on its beaches, enjoy its wide variety of underwater and watersport activities, indulge yourself at a luxurious spa and visit Sandy Ground, Anguilla’s entertainment capital. Sandy Ground is a charming, quiet village during the day but springs to life at night when beach bars and lively restaurants offering dancing, drinking and music open for business. Don’t miss the Pumphouse!
Other “must-sees” on Anguilla include Crocus Bay (site of an 18th century military invasion), Shoal Bay (considered one of the world’s finest beaches) and Island Harbor, a quaint fishing village filled with captivating fishing boats moored daily in the cove.
St. Martin/St.Maarten, St. Barts and Anguilla–journeys of a lifetime you won’t ever forget.