How much do you know about the Caribbean island of St. Martin? Do you know it shares space with another territory called St. Maarten? It turns out that the island is co-owned by the French, who call it St. Martin, and the Dutch, who call it St. Maarten. They each have their own sides of the island, and they have different currencies and electrical current as well. Despite these differences, there is no wall dividing them or any checkpoints which you have to pass through. If you visit the island you should be able to pass back and forth as freely as you desire. English is spoken on both sides of the island, and while the French use the Euro and the Dutch use the Guilder for money, both sides accept American dollars.
So if you are going to St. Martin, how do you decide where to go, where to stay, and what to do? If you take a cruise ship, it is likely that you will pull in on the Dutch side. The Dutch side also offers casinos and more of a night life compared to the French side. Some people love to go back and forth from side to side as the mood strikes them that day, and some people pick a side and stick with it.
Both sides have an international airport to fly into. Both sides offer duty free shopping centers as well, which many international travelers like. The Dutch side of the island offers a laid back, Caribbean way of life with dishes like curried goat, and friendly, merry people. Since it is a tourist town, there are lots of shops, hotels, souvenirs, excursions, and (of course) tourists. The cruise ships pull into port there regularly. If you love meeting new people and you want to get a taste of the Caribbean, the Dutch side might be perfect for you.
On the French side, you will find things are a little different. In addition to the electrical current changing (you will need adaptors to charge your cell phone) you will notice that there are fewer people on the French side. The roadways have less traffic, and there are smaller, more personal places to stay, to visit and to eat. If you aren’t too keen on staying in a big hotel with a thousand other people, then try booking on the French side, with smaller (but no less charming) accommodations.
If the Dutch side has a Caribbean feel to it, then the French one has a distinct European flair. If you want to try genuine French cooking without traveling to Europe, you will be pleasantly surprised by dining on the French side.
Since it is an island, of course there are beaches to enjoy. Take note that the French side has beaches like France itself, where bathing suit tops are optional. If you would like to sunbathe without worrying about tan lines, then the French side is for you. If you are more accustomed to full coverage when it comes to swimwear, then the Dutch side beaches are better suited to you.
No matter what you choose to do on your trip, you will have a blast. There is always something new to do, and if you manage to do everything, there’s an entire new side of the island just waiting. Pick up the phone and start planning your trip today.