One Island, Two Countries, Four Spellings
Sint Maarten / St. Maarten
Saint-Martin / St. Martin
Spell each as you like, but either way conjures up images of romance and exotica.
St. Maarten (Dutch) is a lively destination of white sand beaches, casinos, historical sites and nightlife. Philipsburg, the capital, is the main entry point, and it vibrates with Caribbean colours and sounds and the hustle and bustle of cruise ship passengers. St. Martin (French) is tends to be more laissez-faire and sophisticated, the first-class resorts and white sand beaches are mostly secluded. The capital, Marigot is Mediterranean resort-like, with yachts in the harbour, and open-air markets and shops lining the waterfront.
The border (Harmoniously shared for some 350 years) between north and south, is all but invisible, and in most ways, St. Martin / St. Maarten is simply a strikingly beautiful island with two distinct cultures.
St. Maarten / St. Martin is a (semi) popular destination not as oft-visited by North Americas as many other islands in the Caribbean; which is another good reason why you may want to consider vacationing here.
But, you may want to consider vacationing here because you can in fact visit not only island but two countries.
There is the delightfulness and soberness of the Dutch on one side, the savoir-faire of the French on the other … and add beaches and lagoons, great hotels and elegant villas, a multitude of dining choices and you can understand why this island of two nations attract vacations from Europe and North America.
This 37 square-mile island is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two different nations. The French territory is about two thirds of the island. There is no real border, just modest monuments and signs. The border is almost imperceptible and people cross back and forth without ever realizing they are entering a new country.
Neighbouring islands include Saint Barthélemy, Anguilla, Saint Eustatius, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. With the exception of Nevis, all of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from St. Maarten / St. Martin.
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