This 37-square-mile island, ringed with white-sand beaches, has been living with a split personality since 1648, when it became the smallest parcel of land to be peaceably shared by two countries: France and the Netherlands. When you visit St. Maarten, the Dutch side in the south, it bustles with sprawling resorts, wide boardwalks, lively beach bars, and late-night casinos. Meanwhile, sleepy French St. Martin, with its harbor full of brightly colored boats and houses built up into the cliffs, is reminiscent of a Mediterranean ﬁshing village. Thanks to the French inﬂuence, you'll also ﬁnd some of the best food in the Caribbean.
Things Not to Miss on St. Maarten
Our St. Maarten travel guide will point you to some of the island's can't miss sights and activities, including:
• St. Maarten Museum
• Diving and snorkeling
• St. Maarten nightlife
When to Go to St. Maarten
The peak season begins in December and ends around mid-April, as frozen travelers from the United States and Canada flock here to escape the cold at home. One of the island's most famous events, the Heineken Regatta, takes place in March. Travel to St. Maarten drops off between July and October, hurricane season in the Caribbean.
Taking advantage of duty-free jewelry shopping at Passions, in Marigot, which stocks well-known fashion designers such as Dinh Van, Girard-Perregaux, and Jaeger LeCoultre.
Enjoying live music, piña coladas, and light snacks—zucchini soup shooters, salmon and caper bruschetta, tonka bean crème brûlée—at Ocean Lounge Restaurant & Bar, an open-air lounge in Philipsburg.
Indulging in one of the island’s lolos (tiny restaurants specializing in Creole cuisine), such as Rosemary’s, a little shack on the Marigot waterfront.