St. Maarten/St. Martin may be one island, but the two countries make each side of the island very different from the other. Passing between the two countries is easy to do and most times, you don't realize you've crossed the border. There are no fences, security or customs check points when crossing the border. Dubbed the "friendly island," everyone is happy to help with ... more
St. Maarten/St. Martin may be one island, but the two countries make each side of the island very different from the other. Passing between the two countries is easy to do and most times, you don't realize you've crossed the border. There are no fences, security or customs check points when crossing the border. Dubbed the "friendly island," everyone is happy to help with directions or suggestions as St. Maarten/Martin is a tourism-centered economy.
Saint Martin-French Side
The French side occupies a larger portion of the island and features beautiful green mountains (or hills as the locals call them). The beaches are of course a huge draw for vacationing families, but families will also find unique things to do on the French side of the island, like a butterfly farm, zip-lining nature preserve, parades and perfume making.
As one may expect, the cuisine on the French side lives up to the French standards. Grand Case, a former fishing village, is now being considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean by many. Families will find everything from local vendors grilling up Caribbean chicken and shrimp to fine dining, authentic French cuisine. Kids will love the French pastries, baguettes and crepes, too. If your family likes to eat, be sure to arrive hungry on the French side of St. Martin!
Sint Maarten-Dutch Side
The Dutch side of the island is considered the "fun" side of St. Maarten. (That's not to say the French side isn't fun, too.) But St. Maarten is the more relaxed and comfortable side of the island. Families will find the Philipsburg Boardwalk easy to walk and explore while visiting different restaurants, bars and high-end and local shops. Maho Beach (or airplane beach), where large commercial airlines and island puddle jumpers nearly touch the heads of beachgoers as they land at the airport,, is located on the Dutch side and offers an extremely rare experience that kids (and parents) will get a kick out of.
Ideally, families vacationing on St. Maarten/Martin should spend the morning at a Dutch beach and grab some local Caribbean food beachside before heading over to the French side for an afternoon of zip-lining or hanging with the butterflies. Then have dinner in Grand Case on the French side before heading back to the Dutch side for an evening of live music. Both sides compliment each other nicely, so really families need to visit both sides when visiting St. Maarten/Martin to get a complete feel for the unique and breathtaking Friendly Island.