Welcome to the Island St. Martin and St. Maarten!
As the smallest island in the world shared by two sovereign states, St. Maarten/St. Martin offers visitors the best of two worlds: French and Dutch. Located 144 miles southeast of Puerto Rico, this Caribbean tourist spot has grown tremendously over the past decade. If you’re in the mood for shopping all day and nightclubbing all night, this is your spot.
With a Las Vegas-style atmosphere, the Dutch St. Maarten will keep you entertained with its many casinos and island stores. Thanks to the free port and sales-tax free buys, you can stock up on imported bargains from all over the world. Or take advantage of the beautiful shores lined with bays and beaches which offer many water sport activities. Another attraction is St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden which is home to over 100 animals of 35 species and 100 plant species of South America and the Caribbean Basin.
Whether on the Dutch side or the French St. Martin side, make sure both states are visited. St. Martin is just as active as its neighbor with a French flair. Shopping here is an experience on the “rues” of Marigot, the capital. Don’t miss the evening hot-spot of Club l’Aventure where, whatever the age, you’ll dance the night away.
Climb to the peak of Mount Paradise which rises 1,500 feet from sea level at the center of the island and gasp at the spectacular view of this tropical paradise.
The History and Culture of St Martin & St Maarten
The island was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and claimed by Spain, it wasn’t until the 17th century boom of West Indies trade that St. Maarten/St. Martin was settled. First the Dutch wanted the island and eventually pushed out Spain only to discover a French settlement established. Legend has it that a Frenchman and Dutchman, both intoxicated, settled the land dispute by meeting in the center of the island walking in opposite directions until they marked off their country’s territory. Today the border remains and after a treaty of friendship was signed, both countries have remained peaceful neighbors!
Dining on St Martin & St Maarten
Both side of the island offer a wealth of dining experiences although typically French influenced you can enjoy restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes in some truly stunning locations. Below is a list of some of our favourite top ten places places to dine and a contact phone number, it is always advisable to call ahead and book as they are not all open every night and some close during low season.
Restaurants on St. Maarten
Antoine’s, Philipsburg, 599/542 2964, dine on French cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere by the sea.
Tides Restuarant, Simpson Bay, 599/545 7000, Casual Dining on the water, Creole, Caribbean, International/Fusion cuisine
Le Perroquett, Airport Rd., 599/5-54339, unusual dishes like ostrich and boar served French-style, as well as more traditional meals.
Spartaco, Almond Grove Plantation Estate, Cole Bay, 599/544 5379, dine on spectacular dishes of Italian cuisine in 200 year old plantation home.
The Wajang Doll, Philipsburg, 599/542 2687, set in a West Indian wooden building, feast on the best Indonesian restaurant in the area.
Restaurants on St. Martin
La Vie en Rose, Boulevard de France at rue de la Republique, 590/590 87-54-42, whether seated in the parlor or on the veranda, the candlelit meals of lobster fricassee, duckling in black-currant sauce and red snapper bedded in spinach mousse will delight your every tastebud.
La Maison sur le Port, Rue de la Republique, 590/590 87-56-38, stare upon the gardens and cascading waterfalls as you dine on French-style fresh fish and salads or even steak and lamb.
La Mini Club, Rue de la Liberte, 590/590 87-50-69, set high above in the coconut palms with floors covered in grass carpeting, feast upon lobster souffle, fish and vegetable terrines or red snapper with Creole sauce.
La Brasserie de marigot, Rue du General-de-Gaulle, 590/590 87-94-43, decorated in a marble-and-brass motif, menu items consist of French food with a Caribbean twist, here you have the choice to dine-in or take-out.
L’Auberge Gourmande, Boulevard de Grand-Case, 590/590 87-73-37, known for its food and family atmoshere you won’t be disappointed when your meal of red snapper filet with red sweet peppers or mushroom stuffed pork arrives!
Shopping in St Maarten and St Martin
As a free port and sales tax free, St. Maarten is one of the best Caribbean islands to stock up on imported goods. The main stores are found in the center of Philipsburg on Front Street.
10 Front Street 599/5-22965, sells rare island folk liqueur.
Royal Palm Plaza 599/5-22181, stocked with name-brand clothing, perfume, and various accessories.
Front Street 599/5-25530, European imports of watches, jewelry and accessories.
Old Street Shopping Center
Front Street and Back Street 599/5-24712, over two dozen shops of famous stores and restaurants.
Front Steet 599/5-22962, sells Caribbean crafts, West Indian hammocks, baskets, and plenty of other souveniers.
The shopping here is just as good and carries most of the same stores as St. Maarten with an emphasis on French luxury items.
Marina Royale 590/87-73-21
Port La Royale 590/87-70-39
Exclusive French clothing.
Rue de la Republique 590/87-50-03
European imports of watches, jewelry and accessories.
Rue de la Rupublique 590/87-88-16
Oro de Sol Jewelers
Rue de la Republique
590/87-56-51, high-fashion jewelry
Climate: Temperatures average in the low 80’s.
St. Maarten: Netherlands Antillean Guilder (U.S. currency widely accepted).
St. Martin: Euro (U.S. currency widely accepted)
St. Maarten: Dutch is the official language. English is commonly spoken.
St. Martin: French is the official language. English is commonly spoken.
Banking: Banking hours are 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 3:30p.m. Monday through Friday.
Time: Atlantic standard time year round (one hour ahead of EST).
Where is St Martin & St Maaten island located:
For more information on St Martin and St Maarten please visit the links below:
For the official St Martin Tourist Office: www.stmartinisland.org
or for the St Maarten Tourist Bureau: www.vacationstmaarten.com