Saint Martin is a 34 square mile island that sits at the north end of the Leeward Island in the Caribbean. Since 1648 the island has been divided 60/40 between the French and Dutch. West Indian lore says that a Frenchman and Dutchman started walking in opposite directions with the idea of where they met would be the border.
The Frenchman drank wine from his flask while the Dutchman drank gin from his. Gin will get you a little drunker and slowed the Dutchman down, thus the slightly more area on the French side. 🙂
Population – 76,400 (40,100 on Dutch side & 36,300 on the French side)
Money – Dutch side has the Guider (pegged at 1.79 to 1USD) but US$ works everywhere. French side uses Euro, but you may be ok with US$ here also (as of Aug 2018 US$1 = €0.85; current rate available at XE.com)
Language – Dutch, French, and English
Religion – 80% Christian
When to go – Dec-June is most popular. Summer is nice also, but a little hotter and more humid. Hurricanes most active Aug-Oct.
World Heritage Sites – 0 – None
Country formed – Settled by The Netherlands and France in 1631 the current divide was established in 1648. Both sides are still part of their respective countries
St Martin is a cruiser mecca and you can find any resource, part, expertise, etc that you need for you boat. Most of the yachting facilities are found within Simpson Lagoon, a 12 square mile enclosed body of water. The lagoon is accessible through lift bridges on the north side (French) and south side (Dutch). Both are easy enough to pass through and have a set schedule of opening times, but the French side of the lagoon is shallower. Once inside the Lagoon there is plenty of room to anchor or you can dock in one of the many facilities.
I have been to St Martin several times while traveling up and down the Caribbean. I have usually chosen the Dutch side to anchor my boat, but that is strictly out of familiarity. Both sides have their charm and issues.
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
Besides Simpson Lagoon, which is wonderful, there are really only seven other anchorages on the whole island. Three are on the Dutch side and four on the French. Each has its own charm and worth checking out, but the problem is when you sail your boat from one side to the other you are suppose to check out and then into the other, which can be a pain (on the other hand, crossing the border by land is no problem and you are allowed anywhere on the island). Also, all services are run as two separate countries so power, telephone, etc are not compatible.
You can get even more helpful hints in each of the blogs below and soon I will be making a helpful travel video of St Martin.
All Blogs From St Martin