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Sint Maarten | St Martin Travel Guide
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Welcome to Sint Maarten and St Martin island on the Paradise Islands website; an island of two nations. The island is divided in two halves; the northern half belongs to the French and the southern half belongs to the Dutch and forms part of the Netherlands Antilles.

The island was originally named "Isla de San Martin" by Christopher Columbus when he landed here in 1493 and claimed the island for Spain. In 1648 the island was divided (as it is now) and during the following 160 years the whole island was occupied by the French, Dutch and English (at least twice each!) until in 1816 the French and Dutch areas resumed under the original 'Treaty of Concordia' agreement made in 1648.

St Martin Island


The Dutch St Maarten (also known as "Sint Maarten" or "Eilandgebied Sint Maarten") lies to the south with it's capital of Philipsburg and a population of around 50,000. The word Eilandgebied means 'island area' in Dutch and it was part of the Netherlands Antilles (dissolution in 2010) and now Sint Maarten is a separate country or municipality within the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with it's neighbour Saba,  and the "ABC" islands further south of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

The area occupied by the Dutch is around 13 square miles. Philipsburg is a popular stopover with many cruise lines operating in the Caribbean and tourism forms the backbone of the island's economy together with a flourishing real estate market in condominiums and vacation homes. English is spoken on the Dutch side of the island and the official currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin, but travellers will have no problem using US dollars.

Grand Case St Martin

Orient Beach St Martin

Grand Case St Martin

Orient Beach St Martin


The French St Martin (also known as "St-Martin" or "Collectivite de Saint-Martin") lies to the north with it's capital of Marigot, occupying around 20 square miles of the total island area and with a population of around 35,000. Until 2007 the French section of the island was part of Guadeloupe as a "commune" or overseas region of France and bizarrely part of the European Union. Since 2007 it is a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France together with neighbouring St Barthelemy.

Tourism is the main economic activity and the official currency is the euro; however, as with Sint Maarten and most of the Caribbean region the US dollar is widely accepted. The native language is French and St Martin is less populated and slightly larger than it's Dutch neighbour.

St Maarten

This shared island lies just under 200 miles due east of Puerto Rico within the Leeward island chain and it's close neighbours include the island of Anguilla and St Barts with the Virgin Islands just to the north west.

By air, travellers will be arriving at the Princess Juliana Airport (located on the Dutch side). Interestingly the end of the runway is at Maho Bay beach which has become a holy grail for die-hard aviation enthusiasts who can almost reach up a touch the aircraft landing and taking off.
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Final approach!

Philipsburg town beach

For cruise passengers, Philipsburg (St Maarten) is the most popular port for cruise ships with a large wharf. Marigot (St Martin) has only one cruise ship berth.
Travel, holiday, vacation and cruise guide to Sint Maarten / Saint Martin and the Caribbean. All text and images are Copyright Paradise Islands org. All photographs on this Caribbean travel guide website are obtained with the permission of the owners and come from various sources including the islands tourist boards. Some of our own photos maybe reproduced with permission - please see notes attached to each image to avoid any copyright penalty.

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Quick Facts

(Sint Maarten)
(St Martin)

Main Airport

Main Port


US Dollars
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European Union (See Text)

Whole Island

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Philipsburg St Maarten


Princess Juliana Airport and Maho Beach

Airport Maho Beach

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