St. Martin/St. Maarten is an island shared by two countries. St. Martin is a dependency of France, while St. Maarten is part of the Netherlands Antilles. The two nations peacefully cohabitate here, on this subtropical island of white sandy beaches, coves and green rolling valleys. Each side of the island has established its own culture, liberally doused with the ubiquitous spirit of the Caribbean.
St. Martin has a laissez faire ambiance and a bevy of fine French restaurants, especially in Grand Case. Its capital of Marigot is the place to shop for duty-free jewelry and perfume. The ruins of Fort Louis mark the spot where the French fought off British raids. The Dutch side of St. Maarten also has its history. The crumbling walls of Fort Amsterdam offer views across the bay to Phillipsburg, the capital and commercial center of St. Maarten. St. Maarten has duty free shopping as well, and many items are found at prices lower than available in the US or Canada. St. Maarten is more built up than St. Martin – it crackles with nightlife, and offers over a dozen casinos, as well as strip clubs. One can enjoy water sports on both sections of the island. Diving, snorkeling, scuba, sailing and windsurfing are all popular options here.