Archive for December, 2012

St. Martin/St. Maarten, One Island Paradise of Dutch and French

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

 

St. Martin Sint Maarten Travel Deals

St. Martin is one of the rare islands in the Caribbean that is split into two countries.  Half of the island is Dutch and the other half is French.  The island of St. Martin is less than 200 miles east of Puerto Rico, making it easy to get to for quick vacation getaways.  St. Martin offers a diverse culture, luxury resort hotels, many beautiful beaches, and crystal clear blue waters that are ideal for all seaside activities.  It’s easy to find online travel deals to St. Martin on a regular basis, making it an affordable vacation destination.  Plus, you get the best of the Dutch and French Caribbean islands all in one.

In 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two territories.  St. Martin, the northern part of this island, is French.  The southern part of the island, called Sint Maarten, is Dutch.  The two territories are often collectively referred to as St. Martin or St. Maarten.  So when booking your hotel, be sure to check the location.  Regardless, it’s easy to freely travel around the island as there are rarely checks at the border between the two territories.  Also, speaking French or Dutch is not necessary.  Although the population is made up of around 80 different nationalities, English is the most commonly spoken language.

The main attraction here is the ocean and pristine beaches.  The turquoise waters off the beaches of St. Martin are crystal clear and warm.  The white sandy beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, all water sports, and simply exploring the local marine life with a snorkel and mask.  You can enjoy a multitude of water sports like surfing, kite-surfing and wind-surfing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, water-skiing, kayaking, sailing and excellent deep-sea sport fishing.  You’ll find abundant marine life such as sea turtles, large dolphins and even humpback whales in the winter months.  When you get tired of all the water activities, the beaches here are a perfect place just to relax and unwind.  You’ll also find plenty of fun beach bars with festive music, good food, and tropical drinks.  The island has a fun and festive vibe.

On the interior of the island you can take nature walks, hike, bike, and go horseback riding.  Bicycle touring and ATV quad bike trails offer an easy and fun way to discover this island paradise.  You’ll want to be sure to get around the island as it has lots of beautiful scenery.  St. Martin’s subtropical climate provides an array of flora and fauna.  This climate provides a contrast of lush tropical vegetation along with common dry shrubbery on the island.  You’ll find Cactus, bougainvillea and flamboyant growing side by side with hibiscus, coconut, palms, and ferns.  If you don’t rent a car while you are here, then booking an island tour is recommended.  Be sure to visit the French side and the Dutch side.

The main cities on the island are Philipsburg on the Dutch side and Marigot on the French side.   Philipsburg extends along a sandy strip of land on Great Bay.  Philipsburg is more popular as it welcomes over a million cruise ship passengers each year.  This Dutch side of the island is known for its festive nightlife, popular beaches, shopping, fine jewelry, beach bars, and various gambling casinos.  The city of Marigot and the island’s French side is known for its many topless and nude beaches, unique shops, outdoor markets, and French Caribbean cuisine.  Almost every store on the island accepts the United States Dollar and credit cards, so you don’t need to worry about the different local currencies.  Shoppers often find they can get good deals on diamonds, fine-jewelry, and Swiss watches.  You’ll find plenty of entertainment, activities and things to do on the island, and the diverse dining options are endless.  Together, the island has over 300 restaurants, representing every ethnicity.  

When it comes to resort hotels on the island, the La Samanna Resort and Spa is a popular favorite.  La Samanna is on the Beach, offers spectacular ocean views, and has excellent customer service.  Guests can enjoy the seaside infinity pool, three professional tennis courts, spa and fitness center, nicely manicured grounds, delicious on-site dinning, business center and excellent concierge service for all your needs.  If you’re looking for that consistent world-wide standard of quality, then we recommend the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa.  The Westin features lush grounds, one of the largest infinity edge pools on the island, swim up bar and hot tub, luxury spa & fitness center, multiple restaurants and dining options, activities center, Kid’s Club, and more.  It’s a great resort for families and couples.  Another popular hotel choice is the Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa.  The Radisson is located in a beautiful secluded bay featuring a pristine sandy beach, a full marina, large swimming pool, excellent on-site dinning, and many other enjoyable amenities.  VoyageMonkey.com provides easy online travel booking for all these hotels and more.  Booking your hotel, flight and rental car together can save you hundreds of dollars.