GEOGRAPHY & DEMOGRAPHICS
Saint Martin island is a northeast Caribbean island located right in between Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico islands.
The surface of the island measures only 87m² (33sqm), for over 75.000 inhabitants.
Fun fact: Saint Martin is divided into two states.
French side Saint-Martin is a “overseas collectivity” to France.
It has half nearly half of the population but covers over 60% of total land area.
Dutch side Sint-Maarten is now an autonomous state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (like Aruba and Curaçao islands).
With more than 40 thousand people, it covers nearly 40% of the island area.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The first traces of population on Saint Martin date back to 4000 BC.
It is known that the Taino ethnic group, part of the larger Arawak population, lived here around 800 AD.
They were eventually replaced by a Carib tribe (also called Kalinago) in 13th century.
But as with other islands in this region it was Christopher Columbus who gave the current name.
He called the island “Saint Martin” on November 13, 1493 simply because it was St Martin’s day.
However many locals still call their island Soualiga, “Salt Island”, or Oualichi which translates into English as Women’s Island.”
Dutch and French settlements peppered the island.
The Spanish soon attacked the Dutch, settling in the South of the island for a while before they left.
This led wa followed by some tense moments between the French and the Dutch settlements.
They ended up signing an agreement called Concordia Convention- still valid today!
However things did not go that peacefully afterwards, as Pirates and British troops attacked Saint Martin island several times.
The economy of the island is founded with successive success on tobacco, indigo plants, sugar cane and cotton.
However since the 1960s tourism has been an integral part to its economic growth and now constitutes Saint Martin / Sint Maarten primary resource for income.
MAIN PLACES TO VISIT WITH YOUR RIB IN SAINT MARTIN / SINT MAARTEN
Saint Martin Natural Reserve
Located northeast of the French side, this Saint Martin Natural Reserve preserves the island’s five main ecosystems.
These are mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs coastal forests and ponds.
Many wild animals can be observed such as dolphins and humpback whales and over 90 bird species.
You will not only find some of the best restaurants and food in the Caribbean, but you can also spend time on its scenic beaches.
From January to April every year, Grand Case main street hosts a lively market, including street food, carnival parades and live musicians. The crystal clear waters of Grand Case offer a nice variety of marine life and are very appreciated for snorkelling.
The bustling French capital, Marigot is a town with an open market and traditional Creole houses along the seaside. You will find fine restaurants and French luxury tax free boutiques.
For those who love to explore history, there’s Fort Louis up on top of a hill built in 1789 for you to admire from high above the Caribbean Sea or Anguilla Island below.
This city boasts a diverse range of spots for shopping and drinking, but the historic Dutch side is still worth visiting.
Significant sites include the Courthouse, Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem.
The Museum of Sint Maarten features an interesting display about Arawaks culture along with history from before European settlement to present day.
As a tourist hotspot, it is the busiest place in Sint Maarten. You will find many attractions, shops, restaurants and bars.
Simpson Bay bridge offers an entrance into the lagoon shared between French and Dutch sides. Juliana airport can be found west of Simpson Bay.
SAINT MARTIN / SINT MAARTEN 37 BEACHES
Saint-Martin is an island of endless possibilities for those looking to relax on the beach.
With over 70 kilometers of coastline, Saint-Martin offers varied and diverse beaches that will suit any person’s mood or desire.
Whether it be a peaceful swim in crystal clear waters, kite surfing with friends at sunset, playing volleyball under towering palm trees, this beautiful island has something for everyone.
Long Bay / Baie Longue
Plum Bay / Baie aux Prunes
Red bay / Baie rouge
nettle Bay / Baie Nettlé
Lovers’ Bay / La Plage des Amoureux
Friar’s Bay / Anse des Pères
Tintamarre Baie Blanche
Tintamarre south beach
Ilet Pinel west beach
Ilet Pinel east beach
Green Cay / Caye Verte
Coconut Grove / Baie de l’embouchure