St. Martin or Sint Maarten?

St. Martin/Sint Maarten was badly damaged by hurricane Irma September 6, 2017. As far as we know, parts of the island have been able to clean up and re-build quickly and the cities of Philipsburg & Marigot welcome visitors again. Our #24IslandsOfChristmas Instagram challenge just got the third island.

December 3: St. Martin or Sint Maarten? Well, both are right. Today in #24IslandsOfChristmas challenge we return to this popular island that got a bad hit in September as hurricane Irma swept through the dual-nation (part Dutch, part French). We looked at some of the photos after the storm and it was hard to believe the piles of yachts and boats on top of the buildings were not public art, but the sad reality that was caused by Irma. The island has done a lot to recover, we’ve heard – visitors are welcome again. Happy for the island as tourism is the most important industry here! A short post on the island in the blog, as well! #stmartin #sintmaarten #hurricaneaftermath #caribbeanlife #dualnation #philipsburgstmaarten #cruiselife #carnivalfreedom #caribbeanhistory #tourist #discovery #islandmadness #travelblog #dinkgotravel #blogchallenge #instagramchallenge #picoftheday #cloudyday #tropicalisland

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We popped in 2014. It is odd to visit a small Caribbean island that is under the rule of two nations, France and the Netherlands. And has two official names. You are in the European Union in the middle of the Caribbean. If you have euros, they can be used on the French side. Duch side you have the Caribbean guilder (works also on Curacao). But if you have dollars, they are widely accepted on both sides.

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The dual-nation of Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten has a long history. According to archeological finds, the island had settlers already 2000 BC, it wasn’t until 11.11.1493 that Christopher Columbus arrived and decided to give this island a new name on St. Martin’s day. And then, the typical, unhumane story: the natives were enslaved and more slaves were shipped here to work at the natural salt deposits and the sugar cane plantations. The Spanish, Dutch, French, Portugese, English and Flamish all wanted part of the island goods.

Year 1648 only the Dutch and the French remained and the division, according to a story, was made by sending two walkers from opposite sides of the island to walk towards the heart of the island and the line would form where they meet. The 1648 treaty recognizes both nations and no physical border has ever been erected.

Today St. Martin, The Friendly Island, is one of the most popular Caribbean vacation islands (also famous for the crazy airport by the beach) and maybe the busiest for cruise ships. As a cruise passenger you mostly have a day at each port, which in many cases isn’t nearly enough to reveal the possibilities the port and it’s surroundings can offer. But it’s a start.

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We visited with Carnival Freedom and booked a 4-hour tour that combined a guided sightseeing by bus and a cruise on the Simpson Bay Lagoon. We saw parts of both sides of the island and had a fine lunch at a French restaurant in Marigot. Learned about the past and the present of this interesting island that these days has everything one could wish from a Caribbean holiday. It was a warm, but a super cloudy day. Would we come again? For sure! Read more about the island’s possibilities from the connoisseurs Jennifer and Tim of the blog Luxe Adventure Traveler:  12 Things to do in St. Maarten.

Have you been to this particular island?


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