Sint Maarten island is the world’s smallest land area that is divided among two countries. While one part is owned by France as Saint Martin, the other is owned by the Netherlands and is called Sint Maarten. The island is located in the Caribbean and is dominated by hilly terrain. Though Sint Maarten gives off a strong Dutch charm, it has a multicultural presence with a mixture of North American and African influences as well.
Philipsburg, the capital is a great shopping destination and its streets are packed with duty-free shops and shopping malls. Among the many shopping options, Front Street is the best and specialises in jewellery, electronics, cosmetics, liquor and souvenirs. The city also has top-class casinos, nightclubs, resorts and restaurants. The Great Bay Beach is located bang in the middle of the city and offers great views of the port lined with cruise ships. Star Wars fan or not, the Yoda character is familiar to all. Well, there’s a museum here developed by the same guy who created the character and is called the ‘Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit’. It displays a collection of Hollywood memorabilia including Yoda figures (of course!), vintage movie posters, lifecasts of celebrities like Michael Jackson, storyboards, scripts and movie props. The other museum in the city is the Sint Maarten Museum that mainly displays items that were collected from the 19th-century sunken ship HMS Proselyte. It also narrates the history of the island, its slavery and salt industry.
Maho beach in Simpson Bay, around 12 km from the capital is the most popular beach as you can literally experience a plane flying over your head! As you sunbathe on the beach, you can watch planes from the Princess Juliana International Airport arrive or depart just overhead. In fact, plane spotting here has become so popular that you will find the bars and restaurants along the beach displaying flight schedules. However, note that the air waves created by jet blasts from planes are hazardous and can cause physical injuries or even death. So make sure you enjoy the views from a safe distance. The Simpson Bay also houses the Simpson Bay lagoon, along the centre of which runs the border dividing the island. Mullet Bay beach, Dawn beach and Little Bay beach are other popular beaches on the island.
Sint Maarten offers a unique Caribbean experience. Though it is a tiny territory it packs a punch with its vibrant lifestyle, amazing nightlife, luxurious stays and unique culture. And while you are here, don’t forget to get on a cruise and explore the island and its neighbours!
At Maho beach, planes fly right over your head!