St. Maarten, an island evenly and peaceably split between France and the Netherlands, is a Disney Cruise Line Caribbean Cruise port of call. Once the site of numerous sugar cane plantations and military strongholds, the West Indies island of St. Maarten/St. Martin today is a popular tourist destination characterized by festive nightlife, local handicrafts, exotic drinks, decadent shopping and gorgeous beaches. The 2 territories occupying the island hold the distinction of being the smallest to exist separately on one sea isle.
Things to See and Do
Family vacationers travel year-round to St. Maarten/St. Martin to take advantage of a host of paradisiacal recreational and relaxation opportunities. St. Maarten/St. Martin is also home to numerous hotels, timeshares, villas, shopping centers and gourmet restaurants.
No matter if you choose to loll on its pristine beaches, swim or sail in its pretty harbors, hike or bike over sandy cliffs and bluffs or pay a visit to the paradise isle's landmarks or fabulous casinos, this small island offers a world of unforgettable experiences.
Local Culture and Flavor
St. Maarten's/St. Martin's rather unique division has resulted in the 2 halves of the island having distinct cultures to enjoy and experience. You and your family can discover 2 worlds in one on your vacation here.
The Dutch half of the island is highly developed, and known for its sizzling nightlife, jewelry and inventive alcoholic drinks, while the French side is recognized more for its natural wonders and remains a bastion of fashion, luxury shopping and beaches (parents be warned: some are nude).
Past and Present
When Christopher Columbus stumbled upon this island that would become a major tourist draw centuries later, he named it for Saint Martin of Tours. At the time, it was inhabited by Carib Amerindians, but these natives all but perished in subsequent conflicts over the West Indies by English, Dutch, Danes, French and Spanish forces. As the Spaniards brought African slaves to man their battlements, the French and Dutch brought them to work sugar cane plantations, and as the British imported Chinese and East Indians for labor over the centuries that followed, St. Maarten/St. Martin was gradually populated by a rich mix of diverse peoples.
In March of 1648, the French and the Dutch came to an agreement that divided the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin between then, almost evenly. Three centuries later, a popular tourist trade would explode, resulting in both halves of the island being beautified and developed for vacationers.
Today, you can enjoy every minute in this island that is half Dutch, half French, and an all-around perfect vacation spot.
Fun Facts & Tips
Though the island comprises 2 distinct territories, there exists no real border. Monuments and signs mark the place where the border would be.
U.S. dollars, travelers' checks and credit cards are widely accepted on St. Maarten.
Approximately 32,000 people live in Dutch St. Maarten and 25,000 live in French St. Martin.