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Sint Maarten/ St Martin
Known as Sint Maarten and St Martin, this 37 square mile island in the Caribbean is at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, approximately 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is a small heaven for beach lovers with 37 sandy beaches kissed by aquamarine water and offers year round water sports and outdoor activity. It also offers duty-free shopping throughout the island.

This island carries two names, as it is both Dutch and French, Sint Maarten on the Dutch side and St Martin on the French side. Indeed it is the smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations and has been shared by these two nations since 1648, over 365 years. There are no physical separations between these nations on this island, just stone markers showing the border between the two countries and people pass freely between the two countries every day.

It is said that how the island came to be split between the Dutch and French was because "the two groups held a contest. Starting at Oysterpond on the east coast, they would walk westwards -- the French along the northern edge, the Dutch along the southern -- and where they met they would draw a dividing line across the island. The French set off, having fortified themselves with wine, the Dutch with gin. The ill effects of the gin, however, caused the Dutchmen to stop along the way to sleep off their drunk; consequently, the French were able to cover a much greater distance. In truth, though, the French had a large navy just off shore at the time the treaty was being negotiated, and they were able to win concessions by threat of force. The treaty was signed on top of Mount Concordia in 1648, but despite the reputation for peaceful cohabitation, the border was to change another 16 times until 1815 when the Treaty of Paris fixed the boundaries for good".

Below are some tips for enjoying Sint Maarten/St Martin.
 
bulletTopless bathing by women is considered normal, especially on the French side of the island and in some parts nude bathing is allowed. It is considered rude to stare
bulletThis is a sunny island and the color white abounds; white sand, white buildings, white cars. The glare therefore can be quite high so carry sun glasses.
bulletWith many days of sunshine, one can easily get sunburn so carry sun block and use it
bulletThis is a duty free shopping heaven with duty free shopping every where and a very competitive market so you can bargain with the store owners
bulletCheck the local newspaper for which days there are no cruise ships in port and visit Phillipsburg on those days as it is less crowded and you can bargain more with the store owners on those days.
bulletThe Dutch side of the island generally has cheaper prices than the French side
bulletThe official currency on the Dutch side is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder and on the French side it is the Euro but US dollars are widely accepted on both sides.
 
bulletBeach Chair rentals are available on most beaches but by 4.30pm they begin removing the chairs so if you are planning on spending long hours relaxing by the beach on a chair go early.
bulletThis is an island of casual dress, so plan your clothing to your activities to avoid over packing and if you forgot something you can easily buy it on the island.
bulletAlcohol is very cheap as it is duty free, so be careful about over indulging
bulletDo not leave any valuables in your car or even locked in your car trunk
bulletThere are several islands close by that you can easily visit by ferry for the day and these include Anguilla (15 minutes), Saba (55 minutes), St Barts (90 minutes)
 
To learn more about Sint Maarten/St Martin, visit our other St Martin pages:
bulletSt Martin Adventures
bulletSt Martin Beaches

To learn about the other islands in the Caribbean, visit our Island Adventures Page

 

 

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Send mail to webmaster@caribbeanoutdoorlife.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2008 Outdoor Business Group Limited
Last modified: April 15, 2009

 


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Send mail to webmaster@caribbeanoutdoorlife.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2008 Outdoor Business Group Limited
Last modified: April 15, 2009