Tourists flock each year to Sint Maarten and St Martin for one reason; the beaches. Long Bay offers peace and quiet, and perfect sunsets fromt eh abr at La Samanna's restaurant. Anse des Peres is a family friendly affair in the northwest, with legendary Full Moon parties at Kali's Beach Bar. Orient Bay, the 'Saint Tropez of the Caribbean' is the haunt of celebrities and jet-setters. Galion Beach is the domain of the surfers and windsurfers. Little Bay is becoming a haven for bird life. Visitors can also watch the Jumbo Jets fly low overhead as they come in to land over Maho Beach.
Marigot, the French capital, is a town of trendy restaurants and traditional stalls, home to a lively market full of interesting colours and smells. Philipsburg, on the Dutch side, is the duty-free shopping capital. Jewellrey and souvenir shops line the main street, and weary shoppers can recharge in the endless restaurants and bars. The village of Grand Case comes alive from January to April for the Harmony Nights Festival, a traditional Caribbean celebration of gastronomy, music, arts and crafts.
Other attractions include tree-top tours in the Loterie Farm, and the colourful, soothing atmosphere of Butterfly Farm, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. Young families will also enjoy the Sint Maarten Park zoo, with over 80 species of wildlife and dedicated play area for children.
2 miles (4km) off the coast of St Martin lies Tintamere Island. This uninhabited island is wild and rocky, but has some great swimming spots. Lucky snorkelers may even glimpse of turtles. Visitors are advised to take supplies for the day; there are no shops here.
The Voorstraat (Front Street) faces south onto the ocean, running about half a mile (1km) east to west, and is the main drawcard in Philipsburg for tourists. At its eastern end is Wathey Square, housing the tourist information kiosk, just a minute's walk from... see full details
The town of Philipsburg boasts the remains of two historic forts that bear witness to its one-time strategic importance for the Dutch. Fort Amsterdam, the first Dutch military establishment in the Caribbean, was built in 1631 on a peninsula between Great Bay and Little... see full details
St Maarten Beaches
Dutch St Maarten's prime popular beach resorts extend as a series of sandy bays from Philipsburg along the southwest coast of the island, reaching a grand finale at the great spread of Simpson Bay, site of the international airport. From the headland at... see full details
Marigot Archaeological Museum
Next to the Marina Port la Royale, on the southern end of Marigot, is a worthwhile archaeological museum, dedicated to preserving St Martin's history and culture. It houses numerous exhibits, including a variety of pre-Colombian treasures excavated by the Hope Estate Archaeological Society and... see full details
Fronted by a sweeping curve of beach, the little fishing village of Grand Case, at the northern tip of St Martin, is famed for its fine foods and distinctive style of architecture. The small wooden houses are decorated in gingerbread style and painted... see full details
Paradise Peak, St Martin's highest point, rises from the centre of the island to a height of 1,390 feet (424m), and is crowned with a communications tower. Visitors can climb through thick woods twisted with vines and full of colourful birds to reach... see full details
St Martin Beaches
There are a number of good beaches on the French side of the island that are very popular with tourists. Orient Beach, the largest and most popular beach in St Martin, is known for watersports, and borders a number of shops, restaurants and... see full details
The Butterfly Farm
A popular family attraction in St Maarten, The Butterfly Farm is a large greenhouse housing more than 40 different varieties of butterflies and moths. Guests can take a 20-minute guided tour that explains the lifecycle of the butterfly and its place in the ecosystem... see full details