"St. Maarten of the Dutch Antilles Islands" Top 5 Page for this destination Sint Maarten by starship

Sint Maarten Travel Guide: 319 reviews and 887 photos


Living peacefully side-by-side on the same island are the separate countries of Sint Maarten, which is Dutch, and Saint Martin, which is French.

I've been to St.Maartin twice, both times as a cruise port and made the conscious choice to stay in Philipsburg rather than take any excursions.

A Brief History of the Island

The island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin was originally settled by the Arawak Indians who migrated north from the Orinoco River basin of South America. The Arawaks gave the island the name of "Sualouiga" or "Land of Salt" because of the salt-pans and brackish water which are found in abundance here. Later the Caribs, a more agressive Indian tribe from North America supplanted the Arawaks.

Though never having set foot upon the island, Christopher Columbus claimed the land for Spain on November 11, 1493, on the feast of St. Martin thus came the name currently used. Though not an object of the Spanish Crown's attention for many years, when the Dutch occupied the island and began mining salt and built Fort Amsterdam, Spain's possessiveness was aroused and the Dutch were expelled in 1633 and removed to Curacao. After the 80 Years War between Spain and the Netherlands, Spain once again abandoned the island and was soon claimed by both the Dutch and French. In 1648 a treaty divided the island between the Dutch and French and there after a mostly peaceful coexistance flourished. The Dutch St. Maarten became an important trading center for cotton, salt and tobacco followed by many lean years. It became a duty-free port in 1939, followed by the opening of Queen Juliana Airport in 1943.

Source: www.interknowledge.com/st-maarten

Tourism to the Rescue

The island of St. Maarten is a popular port of call for cruise ships in the Eastern Caribbean. Several ships may be in port on any given day making Front Street and close cross streets more of a pedestrian street mall than a place for cars. St. Maarten's economy is based largely on tourism and international trading.

Many nice resorts are located away from the Philipsburg downtown tourist area, but there is a decent beach literally within steps of downtown! Day trips or excursion tours of the French St. Martin are also a popular pastime for tourists of all kinds.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sun, Surf, Shopping
  • Cons:Wish there was more to see and do in Philipsburg!
  • In a nutshell:Only good for a short visit if you're not staying at a resort.
  • Last visit to Sint Maarten: Apr 2003
  • Intro Updated Jan 11, 2014
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Reviews (11)

Comments (26)

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Jan 10, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Oh there is a lot to see and do. You just have to look hard. :)

    • briantravelman's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      Oh. I've never been there, but I found a bunch of interesting places on Google Earth. I guess it depends what you like. Also, there is not much you can see in a few hours. I'm sure if you had more time, you would've seen some cool places.

    • briantravelman's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      I'm guessing you were there on a cruise stop.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2013 at 5:33 AM

    St Maarten sounds quite nice. I would enjoy browsing all the markets, and I wouldn't mind trying the local Guava drink.

    • balhannah's Profile Photo
      Mar 13, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Have often looked at the cruises that go to these islands, perhaps one day we may be able to pay a visit.

    • briantravelman's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Guava drink, and the Banana Cocktail of Pinel Island also sounds really good.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Dee, interesting page about St. Maarten here. I must admit, that I have never really heard about the Dutch Florin as currency. The beaches look indeed inviting here.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 2, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      Hello Holger, thanks for stopping by my Sint Maarten page! Would love to be there right now soaking up some sunshine and fresh sea breezes!

    • briantravelman's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      I haven't either. I thought they use the Euro there.

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Jan 1, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    We visited St. Maarten a few years ago by cruise ship. We hired a taxi driver for the afternoon and that worked out real well.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      As my answer above states, and my intro. states, we were there for a few hours only and chose not to go further than Phillipsburg itself. I have been to this port twice --- you stated in another of your comments that you've never been to St. Maartin at all and I suspect you have not been to St. Martin either.

    • briantravelman's Profile Photo
      Jan 11, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      No, I haven't, but I want to. I thought it looked boring too at first. It's one of those places where you have to look really hard to find the interesting stuff. The French side looks more interesting, but that is only my opinion.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    The beach and sea looks lovely! To try some products made of Guavaberry would be interesting.

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Maybe next year. Nice pages.

  • bijo69's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2010 at 5:02 AM

    Looks like a cool place for a winter break :).

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2010 at 6:54 AM

    Looks like a great place for a holiday but is that the place with the scarily low airport approach right over the beach?

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    Hi Lynne, thanks for visiting my St. Maartin page. Yes some interesting shopping there for island clothing. I'd like to try one of their lovely resorts there sometime for a stay-put vacation.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    This sounds like quite a fun place, Sylvia. I would just love those markets. The beaches look good too. Nice photos


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