Welcome to Sint Maarten, or St. Martin depending on which side of the island you are visiting. This island is unique because it is divided between its northern French side, called Saint Martin, and its southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten
Sint Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is part of the Leeward Islands. It is a country on the southern part of a Caribbean island shared with Saint Martin. Sint Maarten occupies 40% of this island and has a population of about 35,000 residents. Its natural features span lagoons, beaches and salt pans. The capital of Sint Maarten is Philipsburg. This side of the island has cobblestone streets and bright colorful colonial-style buildings lining its Front Street shopping area. This port is a popular cruise-ship destination and where our cruise ship, the Emerald Princess operated by Princess Cruises, is docked today.
Saint Martin is the other side of this beautiful island found in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It occupies a larger portion of the island, roughly 60%, and has a population of about 75,000 residents. The island is home to busy resort beaches and secluded coves. It’s also known for its Caribbean fusion cuisine, vibrant nightlife and duty-free shops selling jewelry and local island liquors.
As our ship arrives to Sint Maarten, our first impression of the island is how beautiful it is. Perfect sunny weather, tall lush green mountains, a constant tropical breeze, palm trees swaying in the wind, and bright colorful buildings.
The first place we decided to visit on this island was the famous Maho Beach. The beach is a short taxi ride from the port in St. Maarten. Although the beach is beautiful with soft sand, palm trees, clear blue waters, and local vendors, the main attraction to visit this beach is for the nearby Princess Juliana International Airport. International flights arriving to the island fly directly overhead (as shown in this picture below). The altitudes of the airplanes are less than 50 feet overhead because the runway is right across the street from Maho Beach. Planes of all sizes land on this airport runway. The force of the plane flying by is exhilarating. If you love aviation, this is the place for you to visit. Another popular thing to do at Maho Beach is to stand along the fence that borders the airport and watch the airplanes taxi to the runway for takeoff. Then as the airplanes’ thrust their engines and begin to takeoff, the major force of wind sent back towards the tourists gives watchers an adrenaline rush. If you do this you better hold on to the fence with all of your strength as your feet will be lifted up from the ground at the very least. Please Note: This is very dangerous to do and not recommended. Signs are posted warning of the risks involved and injuries that have occurred. Visitors are at their own risk in doing this.
After taking in some sun and fun at Maho Beach, we take a taxi ride to tour the island. Points of interests we pass include the Philipsburg Courthouse, Fort Amsterdam, Old Street, and the Boardwalk. St. Maarten offers all sorts of water sports and activities including deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba-diving, kayaking, canoeing, parasailing, and boat rentals. There is an abundance of colorful fish, sea turtles, and dolphins that reside in the waters near Sint Maarten. If you enjoy aquatic activities then this is the island for you.
We return back to the port and decide to take in some shopping before returning to board our cruise ship. The street immediately outside the cruise port is Front Street. It is lined with a large variety of shops that sell jewelry, perfumes, clothing, artwork, glow in the dark t-shirts at Del Sol, Belgian Chocolates, local island liquors, and a few department stores selling a wide variety of merchandise. The late afternoon was busy with tourists from the cruise ships that were in port. We picked up a few souvenirs in some of the shops and walked back along the pier to our cruise ship.
Our day here was great. Other things to do on the island include Nature Tours, Boat Tours, Historical Tours, Cultural Tours and other beaches to visit. There also is another side of the island to visit, the French side known as St. Martin with its well-known clothing optional Orient Beach, many shops, sites, and a cultural history of its own to share with visitors.
I definitely recommend Sint Maarten as a must see destination for your bucket list. The island is unique in that you can feel like you are visiting a Dutch Island and a French Island all in one destination. This is one of the most popular stops for shopping in the Caribbean and it is a stop on most Eastern Caribbean Cruises. As I mentioned there are many international airlines that have daily flights to the island as well. The beach resorts look so inviting. Everything about Sint Maarten makes this an ideal beach vacation destination. Below you will find pictures from our trip.
We hope you enjoyed taking a journey with us to Sint Maarten. The pictures above are great memories but there is nothing like experiencing the island life for yourself.
Please take some time to visit the travel companies found on our page and explore which destinations will be perfect for your future vacation. Another blog on our page titled Your Next Vacation Should Be A Cruise is a great read to help decide if a land vacation or a cruise is right for you.
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Wishing all of you a wonderful day from Sint Maarten and a lifetime of travel memories.
“In Life, It’s Not Where You Go, It’s Who You Travel With” – Charles Schulz