PORTS OF CALL
PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN
When the Spanish closed their colonial fort on St. Maarten in 1648, a few Dutch and French soldiers hid on the island and decided to share it. Soon after, the Netherlands and France signed a formal agreement to split St. Maarten in half, as it is today. Philipsburg displays its Dutch heritage in its architecture and landscaping. The island offers endless stretches of beach, beautiful landscapes and great shopping.
The One Thing You Don't Want to Miss
Compete in an actual race on an America's Cup shortened course. Grind a winch, trim a sail or just sit back and enjoy. Professional sailors will give you a quick lesson, then you're off to compete on Stars and Stripes, one of the most famous sailboats in the world.
Other Fun Things to Do
- Rendezvous at one of the newest and trendiest restaurants in French St. Maarten. Explore Orient Bay, the French Riviera of the Caribbean, with over 1 1/2 miles of white-sand beaches.
- Admire the delicate nature and dazzling colors of hundreds of butterflies as you tour St. Maarten's popular Butterfly Farm.
- Tour the saltwater lagoons by kayak, and discover egrets, plovers, heron and pelicans.
- Discover the undersea world of coral reefs and exotic fish as you take a snorkeling expedition through Shipwreck Cove.
- Experience St. Maarten's vibrant history by bicycle.
Shopping for Bargains
There are about 500 duty-free shops on St. Maarten with prices 25% to 50% below those in the U.S. The selection of jewelry and watches is premier on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. Friendly competition between merchants guarantees excellent prices on emeralds, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls, gold and silver. St. Maarten offers a wide selection of fine jewelry and watches from such well-known designers as C2K, Caribbean Hook, Honora, House of Tanzanite, John Atencio, John Hardy, Kabana, Roberto Coin, Starnight, White Diamonds, Alfex, Concord, Faconnable, Gucci, Maurice Lacroix, Michele, Movado, Wenger, La Nouvelle Bague and more. Be sure to try a bottle of St. Maarten's own guavaberry liqueur. The guavaberry is exclusive to this island.
In October 2010, the Dutch side of St. Maarten voted for autonomous status separate from the Netherlands. Until that point, the Neterhlands Antilles Guilder (ANG) was the official unit of currency. However, the new official currency has yet to be decided, but U.S. dollars, traveler's checks and credit cards are widely accepted.