The Caribbean region is known to be as a first rate tourist destination because of the island’s tropical weather and pristine beaches with crystal clear waters. One of the most sought after island by holiday seekers is St. Maarten (Sint Martin). It is the only island country in the world that is governed by two nations, the Netherlands and France, with Philipsburg (Dutch side – more popular for shopping and night life) and Marigot (French side – best known for gourmet food) as its capital cities.
St. Maarten also known as the “Friendly Island” is an absolute haven for those who love the beach as it has 37 beaches surrounding the whole island. It is warm and sunny all year round, the perfect weather to take pleasure in diving, snorkeling, catamaran sailing, jet ski or any of their watersports activities. It is a shopaholic’s Graceland with all the duty free shopping they can do. This melting pot of cultures is one of the most favoured vacation destinations in the region. Here are a few of the sites that I’ve had the chance to go and see. So, when you’re in St. Maarten don’t forget to put these on your list of places to visit in Philipsburg.
Great Bay Beach
- Take a front row seat and stare at the grandness of cruise ships from a distance or just chill out and look at the horizon while sipping an ice-cold beer or pinacolada served from the bars nearby. Take a dip in its tranquil aquamarine waters or walk on its long stretch of white sand. Great Bay can be found along the Boardwalk with vibrant beach umbrellas and comfy chairs that are stretched out on the shoreline. More often than not, I just walk for about 15 minutes to get to the beach or if I’m too lazy to walk under the sun I take a taxi or a water taxi. This was the only beach I knew and was able to go to until I have discovered that there were more to see in St. Maarten.
Little Bay Beach
- It can be reached passing through Divi Little Bay Beach Resort with only a private peninsula separating it from Great Bay. I was not able to physically visit Little Bay Beach, but I have seen it from the hills of Fort Amsterdam and it could be a little less teeming compared to Great Bay which is good if you want some privacy. Sailboats and jet skis cross-over Great Bay to Little Bay and vice versa heading to the snorkeling site and a floating cottage right at the foot of the cliff from the Western Wall of the fort.
Maho Beach a.k.a. Airport Beach
- I have seen it many times in YouTube (if you haven’t, check it here) but I guess I wasn’t paying too much attention because I have no idea that it was in St. Maarten all this time. I went to see those planes for myself and in more or less 25 minutes from the Boardwalk, I have reached Maho Beach. It was a small beach right under the flight path of landing airplanes which is actually the main reason why people go to Maho Beach; swimming and snorkeling are only secondary.
Mullet Bay Beach
- The beach beyond the golf course. Mullet Bay has a longer stretch of shoreline and it is less crowded than Maho Beach, with a more captivating view where you can just bask under the sun. Its proximity to each other is very favorable for tourists as they can just stroll in about fifteen minutes to experience the charm of both Maho and Mullet Bay.
Food and Shopping
- If you’re looking for a place to eat to satisfy your cravings or just want to slow down and have a drink, The Boardwalk is the spot to be. Revel in beachfront dining in the miscellanies of local restaurants and bars that are lined along the side of the road. Several boutiques, shops and hotels sprout from its streets as well.
- From souvenirs, fashion items and electronics to diamonds and other precious stones, the Front Street is the shopping mecca in Philipsburg. It doesn’t only carry local items but high-end brands like Guess, Cartier, Lacoste, and MAC, to name a few, are also available here. If you’re a shopaholic you will absolutely be flabbergasted as you walk the Front Street and if you’re a skillful haggler you can certainly bag a good deal. One of the famous landmarks in the area is the Courthouse that was originally built in 1793. It was previously used as a post office and jail before becoming a courthouse. Another prominent landmark at the Front Street is the Guavaberry Emporium – the store that promotes the local concoction of liquor and guava known as the Guavaberry that is recognized as the national liquor of the island.
- Go further all the way to the street behind Front Street and you will reach Back Street (seriously, that’s what they call the streets, Front Street and Back Street 🙂 ) and there you can find more souvenir shops, ornaments and other local stores. Prices of merchandise are cheaper here and there are lots of options to choose from. This is where the locals themselves buy some of their own stuff. This is like their “tiangge” (bargain bazaar) part of town.
- Fort Amsterdam is the nearest attraction from the terminal aside from the Boardwalk. It rests atop of a hill keeping an eye on the enormity of Great Bay and Little Bay. It was the first fort to be built by Dutch settlers in the Caribbean, in 1631. It was then captured by the Spaniards and made it an important stronghold east of Puerto Rico. It remained under the control of the Dutch after the Spaniards left the fort in 1648. It remained under the control of the Dutch after the Spaniards left the fort in 1648. It is one of the two historic forts in St. Maarten (Dutch colony).
When we hear of the word Caribbean, we associate it with beach, sun, vacation, enjoyment and shopping among others. With the thriving tourism as its proof, St. Maarten certainly lives up to the expectations of the tourists who have been to the island. Again, these are just a few of what I have visited and there are still lots more to see and do.
How about you? What would you like to do in St Maarten?
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