St. Maarten Island
North of the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles chain, lays a small territory shared by two countries, two cultures, and thousands of tourists every year, the St. Maarten Island /Sint Martin Island emerges as the hidden gem of the Caribbean. This European capital of the Caribbean is charmingly Dutch and extremely French. St. Maarten Island is a tiny island just thirty-six square miles and is the smallest country shared peacefully by two governments for almost three-hundred fifty years testifying to the island’s most precious and attractive characteristics, extraordinary serenity.
Located about one hundred fifty miles of Puerto Rico, the Dutch St. Maarten Island covers sixteen square miles of the southern part of the island with lush rolling hills that lazily rest above miles and miles of beach, lagoon, and salt pond. Even though the region falls under the Netherlands Antilles and the Kingdom of the Netherlands government, its multiplicity and strong West Indian traditions influence makes its culture not exclusively Dutch. The atmosphere of St. Maarten Island is a winning mixture of Caribbean hospitality and European sophistication.
St. Maarten is swiftly emerging as the next St. Thomas in the Eastern Caribbean. The duty free shops competes if not exceeds that of the US Virgin Island, and is steadily growing as a favorite of cruise lines with their biggest post-Panamax ships where a recent spring trip brought about six ships carrying roughly eighteen thousand passengers to St. Maarten island.
Philipsburg the capital of the Dutch St. Maarten Island is commonly known for its colonial architecture. This town started as a Dutch trading center and the forts around the town are lingering reminders of its one-time strategic importance. These were once sailed by traders throughout the empire who took the protective arms of the island’s great Bay instituting the town s a vigorous center of international business. Although most of the ships that arrive at the harbor today are cruise ships, St. Maarten still flourishes with international trade through its status as a leading duty-free port, making it a shopper’s paradise.
Throughout the Caribbean, St. Maarten Island is also popular for its electric and dynamic nightlife. Beginning at sunset when cafés and night clubs open their doors and the enchanting music of steel drum bands fills the airs of the beaches. The festive spirit of the island peaks during the carnival, which is a two-week festival of street dancing, parades, and banquets.
The dependable trade winds of the island free it from domineering heat or lingering sullen skies, the constant temperate climate graced but the sun brings continuing glory to its beaches and unending thrilling activities. The sugary-white beaches are mentally restive and abundant where visitors who come across them are often left with awe by their splendid seclusion.
Truly, St. Maarten Island is the smallest hidden paradise of the Caribbean, travelers who seek the seclusion, intimacy, and beauty of an island will find their dream haven here.
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