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Sint Maarten & Saint Martin

  • July 31, 2015
  • By 50 Shades
  • 16 Comments
Sint Maarten & Saint Martin

Can you believe two countries on one island? There is Sint Maarten on the Dutch side and Saint Martin on the French side, of this Caribbean island in the Antilles Island group. The 87-square-kilometre island is divided roughly 61/39 between France 53 km2 and the Kingdom of the Netherlands 34 km2,the two parts are roughly equal in population.

Map of St Martin

St Martin/St Maarten has been shared by the French and the Dutch in a spirit of neighbourly cooperation and mutual friendship for almost 350 years. How the Dutch and French finally partitioned the island makes for a great story. Supposedly, the two countries 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. What an innovative method of dividing an island!

Cruise Ship Port at Philipsburg, St Maarten

Cruise Ship Port at Philipsburg, St Maarten

St Martin

St Martin’s Dutch side is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewellery, drinks made with native rum-based guava berry liquors, and casinos.

Marigot

The capital city of Marigot on the French side is quintessentially Parisian with colonial houses standing beside smart sidewalk cafés and bistros, pastry shops and luxury boutiques, and in many ways it looks just like any of the French market towns you might expect to find on the Continent.

Marigot, St Martin

Marigot, St Martin

Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side of the island sits the imposing figure of Fort St Louis, the largest historical monument in St Martin. Named for the famous crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders.

Pinel Island, St Martin

Pinel Island, St Martin

We set off on a ferry to the charming Pinel Island or Isle Pinel, a tiny island on the north end of St Martin, 5 minutes off the shores of French Cul de Sac, and a few hundred yards off the northwestern end of Orient Bay, Marigot. This tiny tropical island paradise has pristine and shallow waters ideal for swimming, sunbathing or snorkelling. It also offers two beach bar restaurants. One is run by a Frenchman (“Le Karibuni”) and the other one is called “Yellow Beach”, a Tiki-hut style place serving BBQ food, seafood and grilled fresh lobster.

St Maarten

The island’s French side called St Maarten is known for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and French and Indian Caribbean cuisine. There are plenty of things to see and do in St Maarten during a one day cruise.

Philipsburg, St Maarten

Philipsburg, St Maarten

Philipsburg

The capital of Sint Maarten on the Dutch side, Philipsburg is a bustling tourist city and port with great shopping, quaint restaurants and historic sites. The city boasts cobblestone streets and colorful, colonial-style buildings lining the promenade along the Front Street shopping area.

Philipsburg, St Maarten

Philipsburg, St Maarten

In Philipsburg there are a couple of historic sites which are worth visiting, such as the Pasanggrahan Hotel, guest house to Dutch royalty; St Maarten Museum with pre-Columbian relics and artefacts; and Fort Amsterdam, a Spanish built fortress dating back to 1801.

Philipsburg Historical Sites

Philipsburg Historical Sites

St Maarten and St Martin combines the elegance and sophistication of Europe with the warmth and charm of the West Indies. It is fascinating how two countries obviously live in harmony with the other on one small island. The second last stop on our cruise was certainly worth getting off the cruise ship for!

For more stops on our Caribbean Cruise check out my previous posts on Aruba: Arriba! Arriba! and Curious & Colourful Curacao

Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday

Linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration

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By 50 Shades, July 31, 2015 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 16

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

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16 Comments
  • Johanna
    July 31, 2015

    Ah these beautiful islands. As you say so quaint and colourful. I expect you could have spent much longer there given the chance? What a great story about how the dividing line was decided upon!

    • Kathy
      July 31, 2015

      I realise that this Caribbean cruise is going on forever but I promise this is the second last one! They were all beautiful and unique in their own way. I could easily spend more time exploring these islands! :)

  • Lorelei Bookluck
    July 31, 2015

    Incredibly inspiring… I can’t wait to do a similar trip… shopping, native jewellery, beaches, rum-based guava berry liquors… YES PLEASE!!!

    • Kathy
      July 31, 2015

      The Caribbean is a gorgeous holiday destination and every island is unique in its own way. I would highly recommend it! Thank you for dropping by my blog Lorelei. :)

  • Ruth
    July 31, 2015

    Oh so beautiful! I always feel inspired by the Caribbean (I am from there). My story with Saint Martin is a little bit complicated. I visited in a cruise ship but was not able to see anything in the island due to my travel companion. Many years after that, I still think about the day I “missed” in the island.

    • Kathy
      July 31, 2015

      You did miss out on a wonderful island Ruth. It was so interesting see two different cultures on one small island. Maybe you will return one day. :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    July 31, 2015

    It looks wonderful. I love the idea of a barefoot restaurant. There should be more on Australian beaches.

    • Kathy
      July 31, 2015

      The West Indies is a pretty cruisy place. I loved their people’s laid-back attitude to life and the way they talk – yeah mon! I agree totally that we should have more beachfront casual dining places. There aren’t near enough here on the Gold Coast. :)

  • budgettraveltalk
    July 31, 2015

    I love the view of Marigot from the top of the hill. Having French and Dutch on an island in the West Indies is a little bizarre!

    • Kathy
      July 31, 2015

      Marigot was very pretty, although we didn’t see much of it. We caught a ferry across to Pinel Island which was pretty amazing. Who would think that two different countries could cohabit one small island? :)

  • malaysianmeanders
    August 3, 2015

    Just a few days ago, I was mentioning “some island in the Caribbean that’s half Dutch and half French” to my husband. What a coincidence. I really like the story of how they decided where the dividing line was. It looks like a fab place to visit.

    • Kathy
      August 3, 2015

      I wonder whether that story is factual, but nonetheless it makes for interesting reading! It was a lovely Caribbean Island, but not my favourite. I think I have saved the ‘best for last’. Standby for St Thomas this Friday!

  • Rhonda Albom
    August 3, 2015

    Lovely and nice explanation of the two nations sharing the island. I was there so long ago I barely remember anything other than the St Maarten sign – as I have a similar photo.

    • Kathy
      August 3, 2015

      It was a very unique island with its two cultures on one small expanse of land. I enjoyed both halves of the island equally. They both had different things to offer. Thank you for visiting :)

  • Nancie
    August 6, 2015

    Hi Kathy. I had no idea that the island was shared by the French and Dutch. The history is very interesting, and the photos beautiful. Thanks for linking up. #TPThursday

    • Kathy
      August 6, 2015

      Yes a very interesting island. The thing I liked about all the Caribbean Islands we visited is that they were diverse in culture and history, although their beaches were all pretty similar. :)

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