It’s lovely to have a choice, isn’t it? Your UK Travel Managers for St Martin may well ask you if you want to go Dutch or go French. Don’t worry, this isn’t some strange new way of splitting a restaurant bill, but an everyday decision you will be faced with on the Caribbean island with two names.
Visiting St Maarten/St Martin is a unique experience: this outpost in the Leeward Island chain is a nation divided between France and the Netherlands. It has an unpoliced border cutting through its southern portion, so you can decide to sunbathe in French Saint Martin in the afternoon, and stroll over to dine in Dutch Sint Maarten in the evening.
The French and the Dutch have shared this delightful Caribbean gem amicably for more than 350 years, and it really does offer you the best of both worlds.
Who knows whether the legend regarding the historical origins of joint ownership is true or not? It certainly succeeds in reflecting the convivial atmosphere back in the seventeenth century, which lives on to this day. It is said that a gin-drinking Dutchman and wine-imbibing Frenchman challenged each other to walk around the island and see how much territory they could claim for their respective countries. The Frenchman, it seems, either had longer legs or walked a lot quicker because he claimed two-thirds of the island, leaving the Dutch gentleman to boast that he had simply claimed the best bits of the island and stopped!
The Dutch portion is in the south, and its capital Philipsburg is a duty-free shopping opportunity that you will not want to miss. The most developed beaches are here too, with resorts clinging to the southwest coast near the island’s international airport.
French St Martin is more scenic and less developed, and has given the whole island a boost by developing a reputation for gourmet cuisine.
Wherever you stay on the island, lively nightlife will not be too far away – mostly centred on your choice of 35 enticing white-sand beaches.
The island is sunny and warm all year round, with average monthly temperatures staying fairly constant on the coast at around 22-30 degrees Celsius (72-86 degrees Fahrenheit), and averaging 19-27 degrees Celsius (66–81 degrees Fahrenheit), in inland areas.
There are cooling winds throughout the year and showers may fall at any time, but tend to pass quickly.
Dutch and French are the official languages, but English is widely used. Locals also use a language known as Papiamento, a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English.
In 2010 the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved, but St. Maarten remains an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
A passport valid for the duration of stay is required along with a return or onward ticket and sufficient funds for your stay. The nationals of most countries will not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. Please check the rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
The great majority of visits to the island are trouble-free, however the usual safety precautions should be taken.
For all your high-end, bespoke leisure and corporate travel needs to St Maarten/St Martin, please contact our Travel Managers on 0203 535 9290 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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