St. Martin/ Sint Maarten, one of the Dutch Caribbean islands, is located in the east of the Caribbean Sea, 186 miles east of Puerto Rico. The neighbouring islands, Saint Barthélemy, Anguilla, Saba, Sint Eustatius (Statia), Saint Kitts are visible on a clear day. St. Martin is just 37 square miles, the smallest land area in the world to be shared by two nations, France and the Netherlands, which is why it has two names – St. Martin and Sint Maarten. Possibly the most cosmopolitan island on earth the island has a welcoming atmosphere and visitors can enjoy their holiday to the full – relaxing or enjoying the many activities. Lots of superb beaches, lively nightlife and activities - something for all visitors to enjoy. Friendly and safe this island is to be enjoyed and explored. St. Martin/ St. Maarten has a more diverse culture and heritage than most Caribbean islands and due to its size, feels like small community. St Martin is a great holiday destination – it retains a small island feel, but with a lot to offer. The island is not over developed or commercialised.
The official island motto is : "The Friendly Island" - St. Martin has that typical
Dutch Caribbean friendly atmosphere essential for you to experience what this
wonderful island has to offer and enjoy your holiday to the full.
Tourism to St. Martin/Sint Maarten only began around 1970 and fortunately this was a time when the importance of the natural world was being realised, and great care has been taken to protect the natural resources and beauty of the island – whilst providing excellent facilities, accommodation and activities for visitors to enjoy. People who appreciate the natural environment will enjoy St. Martins' natural attractions especially the mountainous terrain in the centre of the island, with its lush vegetation and spectacular scenery. St. Martin has 37 super beaches in 37 square miles ! Many hotels have their own beach, but the more secluded beaches are worth the extra effort. Some beaches are surrounded by rugged cliffs and dramatic landscapes, while others are shaded by palm trees. Many beaches have cafes, water sports and various activities for you to enjoy. Others are very quiet and peaceful. You will be spoilt for choice. It is a tropical island and the climate does not vary a great deal. Warm and sunny almost every day of the year with a cooling breeze. The average temperature is 27°c (81°f ) - whatever you choose to do, even "not much" – you can do it comfortably all year round. St. Martin does have some tropical rain - usually in September and October – which falls in brief, tropical showers. The island has wonderful weather all year round, superb beaches, lots of fun activities on land and in the ocean. There is a lot to see and do – there really is something for everyone on St. Martin.
As with the other Dutch Caribbean (formerly Antilles) islands, St. Martin was settled by Arawak Indians from South America, who were displaced by Carib Indians, from North America, from whom we get "Caribbean". In 1493 Columbus claimed St. Martin for Spain. From 1679 until 1816, control of the island changed between the French, Spanish, Dutch and British, more than 15 times !
As a consequence, St. Martin's population of just 70,000 are descended from Amerindian, European, African, Indian and Asian people, over 80 nationalities, which gives the island, in common with all the Dutch Caribbean islands, a very rich and diverse cultural heritage. For 350 years the island has had "dual nationality", the northern part French and the southern part Dutch, although there is no visible border. The islanders speak Dutch, French and Papiamento, a Creole language of the Dutch Caribbean. The population is split almost equally, 35,000 in the French half and 35,000 in the Dutch half. Dutch is the official language in the south, French in the north, but everyone speaks English.
St. Martin is recognised as a fantastic dive destination, but is relatively unknown by divers from the UK and Ireland. The average ocean temperature is 26°c (79°f) and visibility of 35 - 50 metres. Crystal clear warm water makes the ocean perfect for a range of water sports : sailing, windsurfing, body-boarding, wake-boarding, kite-surfing, water-skiing, parasailing, jet-skiing, kayaking and of course diving and snorkelling. The reef and ocean are protected, as on the other Dutch Caribbean islands, and are in excellent condition. The coral reefs offer a wide variety of sea life, fantastic coral formations, pinnacles and caves and several excellent wrecks. Just off the coast in the Great Bay, lies the wreck of an English battleship dating back to 1801. For families or groups of divers and non-divers, St. Martin is a good choice. Beaches, snorkelling, activities, shopping etc., keep everyone entertained while the divers get busy. Click here for more Diving information on St. Martin/Sint Maarten
Accommodation on the island is in small hotels or small resorts, with a range of options : hotel rooms, suites and self-contained apartments of various sizes and standards. The quality of the accommodation is excellent. Apartments and studios have modern kitchen facilities. You have the freedom to self cater, if you wish, but resorts have a restaurant (or two) on site, and there will be several others nearby. This is a small island, resorts and hotels are small and low key, not like the large resorts Europeans are used to.
Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side, Sint Maarten, founded in 1763, is a bustling city with lots of restaurants, bars and shops. Marigot is the capital of St. Martin and the French influence is obvious. Marigot's buildings are largely colonial, lots of cafes, bistros, pastry shops and luxury boutiques reminiscent of French market towns. St. Martin/Sint Maarten comes to life after dark. Live entertainment from around the world, nightclubs and bars on both sides of the island and casinos (on the Dutch side). Front Street in Philipsburg, Simpson Bay, Marigot port and Marina Royale are centres of nightlife with live music, street entertainers and several nightclubs. St. Martin claims to offer the widest variety of cuisine of any island in the world ! As with all Dutch Caribbean islands, the rich cultural mix ensures a wide range of cuisine - Spanish, Creole, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese and Chinese, etc. There are a number of activities to enjoy: riding, hiking, mountain biking, bowling, tennis & squash, golf etc. The combination of the relaxed and the active, the natural world and the entertainment offered, gives all visitors a wide choice of holiday options.
The Dutch Caribbean is a very safe part of the world. The Dutch Caribbean has a rich and varied cultural heritage, which has developed into a friendly, easy going society. This cultural and religious mix has given these societies are more "open" attitude to visitors to their islands, an attitude that has given each island a relaxed but very welcoming atmosphere. There are no special vaccinations required for the Dutch Caribbean - no major health issues. The standard of cleanliness, health and hygiene is excellent. Please see our "Practical Stuff" page for more information on the more mundane, but important, details that will help your holiday go well. Whatever your preference, enjoying the fantastic weather in peace or enjoying outdoor sports, we are experienced in organising holidays in the Dutch Caribbean. We would be delighted to prepare a holiday proposal for you. We love talking about these wonderful islands, feel free to contact us by phone. Please see the links to information about this island and our company - above. There is so much more to say !
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