Stylized Saint Martin or Sint Maarten due to its dual French-Dutch sovereignty, this Caribbean holiday spot is part of the Leeward Islands. While English is a common tongue, both halves speak their own mother language and local dialects. Following this linguistic diversity, visitors should expect different cultural focuses on either end, although there is no hard distinction that bisects the island.
Nude beaches and street markets offer softer entertainments in the French Quarter, but palm-lined banks are found all around the coastline. Right next to the airport runway is the miniscule strip of Maho Beach, tiding over plane-spotters. Mullet Bay Beach on the other hand, is perfectly ordinary in its sandy glory, offering the usual swimming and snorkeling grounds. To avoid crowds, take to the limestone cliffs of Cupecoy Beach and its secluded bay for a quieter surfing and sunbathing spot. Alternatively, Loterie Farm transports you to the hilly nature sanctuary, boasting 135 acres of hiking trails, zip lines and man-made oasis.
But if you thought Saint Martin was solely comprised of dreamy sunsets and calm beaches, think again. For a festive, irreverent nightlife, seek out the Dutch side for more fiery entertainment. Bars and casinos draw out party hours late into the night, bubbling over with tourists. Diluted with cultural strands from Asia, Netherlands and the United States, you’ll find less local emphasis here. Still, history leaves a mark by means of ruins and old architecture, such as the commanding presence of Fort Amsterdam.
Tropical climate is to be expected, temperatures averaging between 25℃ to 30℃ all-year round. In order to avoid rainy season (however infrequent it is), visit between January and July.