by Female Abroad

While there are a lot of islands in the Caribbean, you might be asking yourself why should you visit this one? Or maybe you are going on a cruise and it's one of the stops so you are asking what can you / should you do while there? No matter the question, this should help you decide on the answer. Since the island opened itself to tourists in 1970 (one of the first Caribbean islands to do so) they have been priding themselves in showing off this unique, multi country island to the world.

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (Dutch side)

Stretching 1.5 km from Great Bay and the Salt Pond these five parallel streets are where most of the village's shops and restaurants are. Front Street is very narrow and cobblestoned as well as usually the most congested when the cruise ships are in port (it's closest to Great Bay) as many of the duty free shops are here. Steegjes (lanes) connect Front Street with Back Street (they were creative in their names) which is where you will find smaller crowds due to the lack of shops. The outside of the village is surrounded with a beach that features a 1km long boardwalk that has restaurants as well as Wi-Fi.

As this is a good starting point if you are on a cruise or flew into the area, from here you can branch off and see:

Wathey (Watty) Square: this is where the town hall and courthouse is found. Built in 1793 the usage has changed over the years

Captian Hodge Pier: just off of Wathey Square this is a wonderful spot to view Great Bay

Fort Amsterdam: one of the first buildings built on the island in 1631

Old House: museum with items from cultivating sugar cane and producing rum

Zoo park: zoo with 200+ animals (may not reopen after the 2017 hurricane)

Seaworld Explorer: glass bottom boat

Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House: most authentic colonial style inn and was a royal residence during WWII

Mullet Bay: island's only golf course which is located beside this beach

Marigot, St. Martin (French side)

This French capital is known for is array of excellent boutiques with fashions straight out off Paris but if you are not here to shop, the city and area have a lot more for you to explore. If you are wanting a more Creole experience then check out the harborfront which features a public market, souvenir shops, and restaurants that serve up the local flair while open air bars dot the landscape in between. Make sure to get here early as the area gets busier and busier throughout the day. At night the area feels like one large, outdoor dinner restaurant as people venture out for food and come on over from Anquilla as well as St. Barts (the ferries to both islands dock night downtown). If that doesn't sound like fun to you then there is all the shopping from Le West Indies Shopping Mall to Port La Royale Marina and more.

You can stay in Marigot while exploring the old Colonial buildings and Creole style homes or you can venture on to:

Falaise des Oiseaux: "Cliffs of the birds" high cliffs overlooking the sea that is full of various species of birds nests

Sur les Traces des Arawaks: "On the Trail of the Arawaks" a museum of archaeology

Colombier: fertile farm area where most of the food is grown

Pic du Pardis: highest point of the area with grea views

Grand Case: "Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean"lots of high end restaurants and a nice beach

Fly zone: zipline through the treetops with the Hidden Forest Café

Fort Louis: panoramic views

French Cul du Sac: colonial mansions nestled in the hills

The island also has a few places to visit that have locations on both sides:

Butterfly Farm: hundreds of butterflies

Fishing charter: water in the area has marlin, wahoo, tuna, and snapper

Blue Marlin Tournament: June

Angler Big Fishing Tournament: March