St. Maarten / St. Martin
Unique in this world,
St. Maarten and St. Martin are Dutch and French respectively, sharing a
single island in the northeast Caribbean tucked in the path of virtually
constant trade winds. Except for markers at the side of the road, there
are no formal border crossings - like town borders in the U. S. or Canada.
There, the similarity with North America ends. Temperatures here are
summery year-round, warmer and a bit less breezy in late summer, and with
more frequent showers and more winds September through December. Hurricane
season is June 1 to November 30, but hurricanes rarely visit outside of
September, the statistical height of hurricane season, when some
restaurants also close for vacation.
The island is volcanic in origin and was first discovered by Christopher
Columbus. Some local legends say the Simpson Bay lagoon itself was the
crater of our long-extinct volcano, but today the Simpson Bay area is the
heart of island nightlife and the home to dozens of megayachts and super-megayachts
during the winter (outside hurricane season).
The Dutch Side Capital is Philipsburg with its famous boardwalk along
Great Bay Beach, where Front Street is paved in brick and lined with
stately Royal Palm trees. You'll find many jewelry stores here along with
fine restaurants of all descriptions and many places to buy souvenirs.
Free parking is available in a large lot on the salt pond, a couple of
blocks behind Front Street.
The A. C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo facilities are at the eastern end of
Philipsburg; they're where the cruise ships dock. You can walk a half mile
to town, or grab an inexpensive jitney. Our all-new, ultramodern
international airport is being built in Simpson Bay near Maho, between the
lagoon and Maho Beach.
You may also wish to visit Marigot, the French Capital, with its
waterfront cafes and upscale shops - or take a jitney to Orient Beach, the
largest and most popular beach on the island, which is lined with hotels
The official currency on the Dutch side is the Antillean Guilder; $1
equals about 1.78 fls, or guilders. The French side currency is the Euro
(€), the value of which fluctuates on world markets. Prices for many
things are currently higher on the French side because of the high value
of the Euro compared to the American dollar.
For much more information on the island -- including where to find the
lowest airfares, where the best restaurants are, which beaches are the
kind that you like, and practically anything else you would like to know
about St. Maarten / St. Martin, visit
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