Two nations (France and the Netherlands) have gone halfsies on this tiny Caribbean Island. The beautiful destination truly makes the most of its space — it measures 37 square miles and has 37 beaches. But no matter which side you choose, the French St. Martin or the Dutch Saint Maarteen, beautiful shores, blue water and a happening nightlife await.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport and return ticket
Language: Dutch, French and English
Flight time: 4 hours from New York City; 9 hours from LA
Currency: Euro on the French side and the Florin (Netherlands Antillean guilder or florin) on the Dutch side. US dollars are also accepted across the island.
Getting around: Taxi and car
When to Go: Saint Martin at its best
Best weather: Always! It’s a constant low humidity, 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best prices: The high season is December through April, so plan around those months for better rates.
What to Do
Try a little bit of everything: The island mixes a European ambience with a laid-back Caribbean feel. You can stroll through cute old towns and dine on culinary delights, or devote your time to more beachy pursuits, like sailing, snorkeling or hunting for seashells. Scuba diving is a big draw to the island, so you can watch as a parrotfish lunches on coral or a hawksbill turtle glides lazily through the clear blue waters.
Roll the dice: The nights are never dull on the island with bars, clubs and casinos, all of which have craps, blackjack, roulette and slot machines. Even if you’re not into gambling, it’s fun just to watch other tourists play the odds.
Country hop: The island’s dual nationality gives you a chance to visit two countries. According to legend, Oyster Pond between the Dutch side and French sides is where a Frenchman and Dutchman stood back to back and started to walk around the island in either direction, determining the present-day boundaries between the Dutch and French. No need to walk today: It’s possible to swim between the border (an informal one at that) without even realizing it. You can also hike Mount Concordia, which sits in the center of the island and acts as a border.
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