Saint Martin Travel Guide
Saint Martin is one of the more interesting islands in the Caribbean, as it is split between two countries. The northern two-thirds of this island is an overseas territory of France, while the remainder is controlled by the Netherlands.
Split up peacefully by a treaty in 1648, the territory was said to have been decided by two men walking from a center point on the island.
While this story cannot be independently verified, it is said that the Frenchman was drinking wine, while the Dutchman was drinking gin. The strength of the latter beverage is said to have caused the Dutchman trouble, resulting in less than an even split for the Netherlands.
Not content to simply have a quirky backstory, its attractions are quite unusual as well, with a beach that sits directly across from its international airport, and a museum dedicated to the Star Wars character Yoda.
If you are looking for a Caribbean destination that isn’t too vanilla, Saint Martin is where you’ll want to go.
Currency: Antillean Guilders, Euros
Languages: Dutch, French, English, Creole
What To Do
Those looking for historical attractions on Saint Martin will want to check out Fort Louis. Sitting atop a hill overlooking Marigot Bay, Fort Louis is in an advanced state of ruin, but long ago, it played an important role in this island’s defence.
Subject to English raids from nearby Anguilla, the fort fought back against invaders that sought to steal coffee, salt and rum from its storehouses. Fort Louis served the island until the middle of the 19th century, after which it was abandoned.
The Saint Maarten Museum is a great place to go on a rainy day. Found in Phillipsburg, this cozy place contains artifacts from the days of the Arawak Indians, straight through to colonial times.
With the exhibit on the shipwreck of the HMS Proselyte being its highlight, this place is a great spot for those that want to learn about the history of a place that is often thought of as only a beach destination.
Spend a day relaxing at Loterie Farm. Once home to a sugar plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is home to an expansive garden, zip lines for active travelers, and a poolside Cafe for those looking to relax in the tropical sun.
When one travels, it is only a matter of time before you come across something completely unexpected. The Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit is a prime example, as the placement of this museum in Saint Martin causes many visitors to do a double-take.
It is run by none other than Nick Maley, the special effects guru behind Yoda. While he has enjoyed the sunshine of Saint Martin in his retirement, he often makes himself available to Star Wars fans, so don’t be afraid to ask him about something related to the movies that you’ve always been curious about.
There are many beaches on the island of Saint Martin, but some stand out more than others. Visit Maho Beach first, as it is infamous for being the place where jetliners fly very low en route to one of the runways of Princess Juliana International Airport.
It isn’t the most relaxing place to catch some rays, but the spectacle of seeing these aircraft up close makes it worth a visit. Be sure to avoid standing directly under the flight path, as jet blasts from aircraft preparing for takeoff can slam you into the concrete wall adjacent to the beach.
If you are seeking a more traditional beach experience on Saint Martin, be sure to spend some time at Mullet Bay.
Possessing the aquamarine water and the powder white sands that one envisions when thinking of a holiday in the Caribbean, it is not as popular as it used to be despite its beauty.
This makes it secluded enough for those seeking some peace and quiet, but it has maintained services such as a canteen, giving you a chance to sample local cuisine.
What to Eat
A popular stew found throughout the Caribbean, Callaloo is considered to be an unofficial national dish on Saint Martin. Made with okra, spinach, callaloo leaves, onions, hot peppers, and pork cooked in chicken stock, it is a wholesome dish that will balance out any splurge meals at your resort.
Crab Backs is another unique meal that can be enjoyed on Saint Martin. Live crabs are boiled for about 15 minutes, after which they are hollowed out. The offal is removed, while the meat and the fat is preserved.
The tomatoes, onions, chives, and seasonings are cooked together on a stove top, and once they are ready, they are mixed with the crab meat and the fat in the emptied shells. Browned under a boiler, it is a unique treat that will stand out as one of your most memorable meals here.
When the time comes for dessert, reach for some Coconut Sugar Cake. With no shortage of bakeries here, this simple but delightful pastry made of grated coconut and sugar is great either as a sweet end to your day, or as a morning pick-me-up.