Sint Maarten

St. Maarten offers the legacy of the two European cultures and Caribbean beauty.

The island of St. Maarten offers visitors a perfect blend: the legacy of the two European cultures that once shared it - France and the Netherlands - and all the beauty of a Caribbean paradise.

Legend has it that Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493, on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, although historians now believe that the island he spotted from afar was actually Nevis. In the 140 years that followed its discovery, St Maarten changed allegiance many times as the warring Spanish, French, Dutch, and English all claimed possession. In 1648, a treaty divided the island in two: the Dutch received 16 square miles and the French received 21. The French half of the island is called St. Martin. Today the cosmopolitan inhabitants of this friendly island are proud of their history of peaceful coexistence and, as if to prove a point, never raised an official border between their territories. For a glimpse of the island's past, explore the historic forts that still guard the approaches to Philipsburg and Marigot, the capitals of the old Dutch and French quarters. A visit to the St. Maarten and St. Martin museums is also recommended. There are exhibitions on the ancient Amerindian tribes that were the first settlers on the island, colonial history, sugar and the plantation economy. Naval heroes, pirates and smugglers, merchants, estate owners and slaves have all left their mark here. Collections of sketches and paintings and old photos also reveal what life was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And rumors of buried treasure still persist! The island is certainly a historical gem.

A visit to Philipsburg and Marigot, the island's twin towns should be an important part of your stay. In the northern half of the island and dating from the 18th century, Marigot is a picturesque waterfront town that blends Caribbean color and Mediterranean chic. French sidewalk cafes, bistros, boutiques, art galleries, gift shops and gourmet delicatessens line the streets. The bustling Marigot Market is worth a visit on Wednesday and Saturday to sample fresh seafood and purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables and spices, or carved wooden figures, paintings and other crafts. Founded on the shores of Great Bay in 1763 by John Philips, a Scotsman serving in the Dutch Navy, Philipsburg soon became an important port, a role that it maintains to this day. A major cruise ship destination and duty free shopping haven, this waterfront town boasts a variety of stores, restaurants, bars, casinos and clubs. The waterfront Boardwalk is popular with locals and visitors alike at sunset.

Water babies can snorkel, dive, windsurf, water ski, sail, ride a jet ski, navigate a kayak along the coast and try parasailing and kite surfing. Fishing charters for marlin, kingfish, tuna and wahoo are available and there are ferries and cruises to the neighboring islands of St. Barts, Saba, Statia and Anguilla. The island offers several excellent diving and snorkeling locations that are havens for a variety of multicolored tropical fish and other marine life.

For those who prefer not to get their feet wet, island activities include horseback riding, tennis, and golf. Or you can see more of the island's hills and coast by hiking, biking or horseback riding along lush scenic trails. You can even try your hand at zip lining through the forest canopy and visits to an old plantation house, nature reserves and a butterfly farm. St Maarten is also famous as a gourmet capital and tempting dining choices abound in Simpson Bay, Philipsburg, Marigot and the tiny village of Grande Case.

Internationally renowned for hosting the famed Heineken Regatta in early March and the 12-metre Sailing Challenge, St. Maarten is a popular port of call for the yacht community. Visitors who would like a taste of the seafaring lifestyle can charter a yacht for day trips to neighboring islands or longer voyages, learn how to sail or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise

Resorts in Sint Maarten

Simpson Bay Resort & Marina

Nestled on a hillside overlooking Simpson Bay, one of the most popular spots on St. Maarten, Simpson Bay Resort & Marina is a peaceful Mediterranean-style holiday village offering comfortable suites and all the services guests could need during their Caribbean vacation.

European Plan

from $109us
per night

The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina

The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, your island hideaway and the perfect base for exploring St. Maarten, offers spacious Caribbean villas for luxury living. Enjoy the incredible ocean views, the resort pools, the restaurants and a water sports center.

European Plan

from $127us
per night


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