Saint Martin in French or Sint Maarten in Dutch is an island in the northeast Caribbean. The island is divided 60/40 between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands and they are pretty equivalent in population. St. Martin is one of the smallest sea islands divided between two nations since 1648. The southern part is the Dutch side and the northern end is the French part. As of 2009, the population of the entire island was 77,741, with 40,917 living on the Dutch side, and 36,824 on the French side.
The Dutch side is known for its nightlife, beaches, jewelry, exotic drinks which are made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and casinos.
More about the guavaberry- it is exclusive to Sint Maarten.
- 2oz Sint Maarten Guavaberry
- 1oz Coconut Cream
- 3oz Pineapple Juice or Pieces
How to mix the drink:
Put ice in blender, add Sint Maarten Guavaberry, Cream of Coconut, pineapple pieces or juice. Blend well. Garnish with pineapple, toasted coconut & fresh nutmeg.
- 2oz Guavaberry Liqueur
- 2oz Grapefruit Juice
- 2oz Orange Juice
- ½oz Grenadine
How to mix the drink:
In a tall glass of ice pour Guavaberry Liqueur. Add fresh grapefruit & orange juice. Carefully pour in Grenadine. Decorate with grapefruit, orange & flowers. Grate cinnamon on top.
- 1oz SM Guavaberry Liqueur
- 1oz Tequila
- 1oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
How to mix the drink:
Muddle ice. Add Tequila, SM Guavaberry Liqueur, 1/2oz Lemon/Lime, shake well. Use salt rimmed glass. This drink can also be made in the blender. Decorate with lime.
The French side is known for it’s nude beaches, clothes, shopping, outdoor markets, and rich French and Indian Caribbean food. English is the most commonly spoken language along with a local dialect. The official languages are French for Saint-Martin, and both Dutch and English for Sint Maarten. Other common languages spoken are French-based creoles, Spanish, and Papiamento.
We were in port for just a day and therefore did not rent a car. We booked a tour with a guide to take us from one end of the island to the other. The guide was hilarious and kept us laughing throughout the tour. He was clearly from the Dutch side, but covered the history and lifestyles of both sides.
The bus was air conditioned, very comfortable with huge windows to take great pictures all the way. We pulled off to view a sunken ship, future property of a resort, and the town of Marigot on the French side of the island. When we reached Marigot, there were a shopping area called the West Indies Shopping Mall.
Rental cars are the primary mode of transportation for visitors staying on island. A four-wheel drive is recommended if driving off road to get to beaches. Traffic on the island is a major problem, resulting in long traffic jams between Marigot, Philipsburg and the airport. Be sure to allow plenty of time to get to the airport or back to your cruise ship.
The neighboring islands include Saint Barthélemy (French), Anguilla (British), Saba (Dutch), Sint Eustatius “Statia” (Dutch), Saint Kitts and Nevis (independent, formerly British). All of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from St. Martin, except Nevis.
Saint Martin uses the euro as its currency, while Sint Maarten uses the Netherlands Antillean guilder.
Almost every store on the island also accepts the United States dollar, although sometimes a more expensive exchange rate is used.
We ended our day in Marigot with frozen yogurt, known as “yogart”. It was a very, hot and humid day and my daughter was a bit under the weather so frozen yogurt was a perfect treat!! We did not choose to spend the day at a beach, as we live on Kauai and have the best beaches in the world in our backyard. However, I would return to Marigot and spend more time. Passengers on our cruise ship were saying that the beaches were very nice. I highly recommend visiting Marigot, as it was a really quaint, little town tucked away with small hotels and beach front rentals. Marigot reminded me of a casual, laid back French Riviera. The French side of the island was definitely more resort-like and touristy, whereas the Dutch side appeared to be more local and residential.
Royal Caribbean has built shops at the St. Maarten Cruise Port which only passengers with a cruise pass card, cruise staff and tour guides can enter. There is music, bars, shopping and restaurants in the port area. The nice thing about this shopping area, is that vendors are not allowed in.
$$ saving tips: Shopping on St. Maarten and Saint Martin offers duty-free goods in numerous boutiques. Some of these goods include local crafts and arts, exotic foods, jewelry, liquor, tobacco, leather goods, as well as most designer goods. Most often the designer goods are offered at significant discounts, often up to 40% lower than US retail prices. We had a few hours to walk around and shop. My daughter collects snow globes from each place that we travel, so we picked up a nautical snow globe displaying the word Marigot. I found St. Martin to be rather inexpensive over all. If you are there for just a day and don’t know your way around, it is best to book a guided tour. Our tour was about 4-5 hours in length and only cost $24 per person! That’s a deal.
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