St Maarten, St Martin, St Marteen or…. simply, Caribbean Paradise?
Let us take you by the hand and walk you through the basics…
So many names for 1 little island – St. Maarten, St Martin, St Martin SXM, the friendly ‘SXM’ or even just like New York is named twice so is Saint Martin Saint Martin!
This is one of the smallest twin-nation islands in the world with half being French and half being Dutch governed – well, there is dispute about that due to folklore about when the French and Dutch were fighting over the island in the 16th century during the days of pirates and tall-ships.
The legend is that after many wars and lost men on both sides, the French captain and the Dutch captain agreed to meet and settle the argument about where to draw the border so they could all live in harmony on the same island. The French wanted’St. Martin’ and the Dutch ‘Sint Maarten’.
Well, after many bottles of rum and no doubt a few cutlass cuts later, they were still not agreed so they set each other a challenge.
The challenge was to race around St Maarten – St Martin in opposite directions and wherever they met, that would be where they drew a line and divided up the island east to west.
So they drew a line in the sand, set off in the heat with their troops to walk around the island hoping to divide up the island evenly between them when they reached the other side.
The unprovable but nostalgic version of the legend says that the Dutch, as prone to a few drinks then as they are now, had to take a nap half way round because they were too drunk, so the French had the better of the Dutch in the end – they netted 20 sq miles and the Dutch only 17 sq miles!
Despite the odd skirmish over the years, it has been a peaceful, neighborly affair which has benefited both sides tremendously and grown St. Maarten – St. Martin into the cosmopolitan, exciting, tranquil, picturesque, beautiful and inspiring island paradise it is today.
Having lived in the Caribbean for over 13 years and visited most of the other islands in the region, I can personally tell you that St. Maarten is by far one of the best islands – for many reasons, which you will discover on this website and in our book.
With 37 beaches for each of it’s square miles and a rugged hilly landscape interspersed with sweeping valleys and large navigable lagoons, St. Maarten has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and exploration.
St. Maartens’ airport – Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is a hub for the region and one of the largest – if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get within 50 ft of a landing jumbo jet then this is the place!
It’s not by accident that St. Maartens’ airport was recently featured on the History Channels dubiously named ‘Worlds Most Exciting Airports’ ( there’s never been an accident here – but a friend of mine caused quite a stir at Sunset Beach Bar a few years ago when he had to pull up short of the runway in his single engine Cessna due to engine trouble, and landed in the sea a hundred yards from the beach! He wasn’t hurt and his plane still flies today! Captain Mike, if you’re reading this, please send us the photo of you on the wing waiting to be picked up by boat!
(There is much more on this unique and fascinating aspect of St. Maarten – the airports’ legendary status as the most exciting in the world – that you can see elsewhere on this web site with some amazing never before seen video footage (coming soon!).
If you like food then you’re also in the right place – St. Maarten St Martin is regarded as the culinary and gastronomic capital of the Caribbean and some of the restaurants here are world class! From Argentinian to Thai to Mexican and Creole, to the solid favorites of French or Italian, or the budget-friendly outdoor local food eateries, you’ll find it all here. St Martin restaurants have some of the best trained and talented chefs direct from Paris.
We like eating out as often as we can and even after 13 years we keep discovering new places to dine but we will give you some of our favorites further in St Maarten restaurants (some are well-known and some are insider ‘secrets’ that very few people know about – we’ll tell you where and how to find them and why you should go there).
Accommodation on St Maarten is varied – you can stay in a budget guest house, a resort, hotel or a 5-star villa complete with it’s own entourage of chefs, maids and butlers with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean! With no affiliation to any of them, we can tell you the inside scoop on what’s good, what’s average and what’s exceptional in your desired style of accommodation (want to camp out in the wilderness on your own private beach? We can tell you how to do it). There is much more to know besides ‘high-season’ and ‘low-season’ – or called ‘off-season’ by some.
Personally, I think we’re moving away from the negative connotation of ‘off-season’ to ‘summer’ season – it is different but certainly not ‘off’! There are still a large number of tourists visit the island during those months and the weather can be spectacular.
Contrary to popular belief, hurricanes are not that frequent here and when they do hit we are well prepared due to past experiences, such as Hurricane Luis in ’95 and Lenny in ’98, and hurricanes, out of all the natural disasters are probably the easiest to prepare for – in fact us islanders usually buy up goodies from the supermarket, get a few videos and beers and have a hurricane party with friends!
We are always open to feedback and comments from readers and enjoy the interactive process and will continue to grow this web site cram-full of simply the best information on St. Maarten – St. Martin you can find.
Our book has some especially tantalizing gems you will not find anywhere else!