It’s arguably the most frequented and popular island in the Caribbean yet St. Martin is less than forty square miles in size and shares the cultures of the Netherlands and the country of France, both of which play a major role in terms of the languages and customs that are practiced there.
Since the 1600s the island has remained divided into two halves which give it the similarly sounding albeit differently spelled name. St. Martin is considered the French half while the other (St. Maarten) is known as the Dutch half. This division is believed to come from a legend about two inebriated men who competed over who could own the most land, those two men being of French and Dutch descent. A small welcome sign written in French is the only method of knowing when one has reached the other half of the island.
Saint Martin shows very little traces of the quiet obscure Caribbean island it once was. Today it’s brimming with hotels, resorts, casinos and duty free shopping, catching the attention of hundreds of thousands of tourists. Tourists are also known to frequent Mount Concordia which is the site where the agreement to divide the island into two halves took place.
The 39 beaches next door are often filled with a large degree of locals and foreigners due to the island’s popularity so it might be wise to either visit the French side or hop over to a neighboring island if quiet sunbathing is one of the activities on the agenda. However, the abundance of people inhabiting the island makes it one of the better spots to get a feel for the culture and customs and Saint Martin side does have less entertainment venues and attractions which gives it a much more relaxed vibe for visitors who just want to get away from the hubbub for a while.
As one would expect, Saint Martin features heavy French influence from the attire worn by the local authorities to the names given to the towns like Marigot and Colombier, the former of which is also recognized as the capital of Saint Martin. The dining establishments in Saint Martin are also among the most highly regarded in the Caribbean. Visitors may wish to explore the outpost fishing village of Grand-Case which also offers lodging and popular eateries. French Saint Martin therefore offers a unique experience catering to those who are seeking fun and entertainment or simply wish to relax and soak in the atmosphere.
Investing and buying opportunities come in large quantities in St. Martin and carry very few restrictions in terms of being able to own a villa of some kind on the island. Foreign buyers often choose Saint Martin property since there is no requirement stipulating that ownership requires being a resident.
The actual transactions are also among the most professional and safe since they’re overseen by the European Civil Law Notary. This ensures that title fees and the subsequent transfer of ownership is hassle free.
A large collection of studio apartments can be found in the hotels near Philipsburg, the capital of Saint Maarten. These apartments come with gated security, a pool, and spacious terraces and also offer convenient hotel facilities and services on top of the agreeable location.
In French Saint Martin, visit Orient Beach to find seven bedroom five bathroom villas that have their own driveway, private gardens and a large terrace in addition to interior features like full size kitchens with the latest appliances. Many of these properties can be expanded to include additional rooms and can also be converted into rentals, acting as an additional income source during the months when they’re not in use by the owners themselves.
Gated communities in Dutch Saint Maarten like Terres Basses also have villas located less than five minutes from the beaches with the extra benefit of additional security. A four bedroom Saint Maarten villa comes with a gazebo, a private pool, large kitchens with dishwashers and wine coolers plus an entire suite of appliances and pleasant views of the oceanfront.
Saint Martin rental options are quite flexible. Owners can use the entire condo, villa or apartment as a rental vacation home or they may choose to instead rent out one or more bedrooms within the property itself so there is a large variation in terms of what’s available at any given time for rent in either Dutch Saint Maarten or French Saint Martin.
Belair Beach Hotel
Divi Little Bay Beach Resort
The Euro (EUR) and U.S. dollar (USD) are both widely used on Saint Martin.
Calling Code: (590)
Top Level Domain: (.mf) (.gp) or (.fr)
Cable providers: East Caribbean Fiber Optic cable
St. Martin is an overseas collectivity of France with French laws applying where applicable.
Valid Travel Documents: Required Exit/Entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
St. Martin's temperature averages around 80 to 85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds with brief and intense rain showers. From July to November is the hurricane season.
Language: French and English
Tips when you get there:
When arriving at St. Martin, many guests choose to take a taxi tour of the island, the taxies are unmetered. Cars are available to rent at the airport if you'd like the freedom to drive through the entire island. For a more scenic experience, mopeds are also available for rental. The island is larger than most Caribbean islands so if you want to see all that St. Martin has to offer, be sure to arrange for a form of automotive transportation.
What to do
St. Martin is a large Caribbean island with many different leisure venues and activities. Known for its coves, beaches, parks and ports, St. Martin's large size allows for many different types of natural aesthetics. From coastal lands that provide fishing and beach going opportunities to inland areas that permit nature exploring, hiking and bird watching, St. Martins caters to both active and tranquility seeking guests.
The French side of the island is known for its clothing optional beaches, shopping and French cuisine. It also has many great spots to snorkel, fish or just swim in its untouched waters.
The Dutch part of the island is well known for its festive nightlife, bars and clubs that line its coast providing a very lively atmosphere. Saint Maarten has many beaches both public and private which are quite popular with guests. It also serves locally made rum and has many casinos.