St. Martin Vacations
St. Martin is an island with two personalities, a Caribbean destination shared by two nations. St. Martin is the northern half and belongs to the French. It’s full of Gallic flair and charm reflected in the language, cuisine and boutiques. The Dutch-owned Sint Maarten in the south appeals to gamblers with its clutch of casinos.
Enjoy a few pleasant hours on one of the many beaches; there are 37 in all. Walk along the sand of Long Bay, one of the island’s longest beaches. Snorkel amid the coral reef in the shallow and clear waters of Galion Beach. This area is also popular with surfers and windsurfers because of the trade winds that whip along the Atlantic coast. Orient Bay is one of the most popular beaches and has the island’s only official nudist resort which is at the southern end of the bay.
Explore the island’s other natural splendors. Hike up to the top of Paradise Peak. At 1,492 feet (454 meters) above sea level, it is the highest point on the island. The summit offers good views of the rainforest, neighboring islands and the ocean. Visit the landscaped gardens of the butterfly farm in Le Galion and observe hundreds of butterflies and moths from all over the world. The best time to go is early in the morning when the insects are most active.
The island is famous for its duty-free shopping. Search for bargains on both sides. Wander down Front Street, the main strip in Philipsburg, the capital city of the Dutch half. This 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) thoroughfare is primarily lined with jewelry stores. Head to Marigot on the French side for its fashion boutiques.
Once the sun drops over the horizon the island shows its wild side as the trendy beach bars and clubs open for business. Dance under the tropical stars at Orient or Simpson Bay. Play blackjack, poker and roulette in the casinos which are all located on the Dutch side.
Rental cars and taxis are the most popular ways to get around St. Martin. There are well-maintained roads on both sides of this dual-nation island. However, some of the road signs are vague. If you’re driving, take a map with you. Alternatively use the local buses that travel along major routes. If you want to go further afield, regular ferry services will take you to the neighboring islands of Anguilla, Saba, and St. Barts.