St Martin vs St Maarten: The French & Dutch Side of St Martin

Wooden Dock on Sandy Beach Anguilla

✔ Caribbean sun

✔ Stunning beaches

✔ Boutique shopping

✔ Mouth-watering cuisine

✔ Two countries on one island

No matter how you slice it, “The Friendly Island” of half-French half-Dutch St. Martin has it all! This one-of-a-kind destination sitting pretty in the middle of the Caribbean’s travel mecca is a cultural melting pot and a top-notch cruising ground that never fails to capture the hearts of sailors from all across the globe. 

Tintamarre Island St Martin

The island itself is not vast in size but it boasts two distinctively different regions, both of which are worthy of your holiday bucket list—the French territory of St. Martin on the north side and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten on the south end. No matter where you drop anchor or go ashore, fantastic memories are sure to be made but we’ve put together a little “cheat sheet” to give you a better idea of what to expect when visiting the different sides of the island. Here’s what you should know before you go:

The French Side...

  • is 50% larger than the southern Dutch side
  • is less commercially-developed
  • offers more mountainous views
  • The euro (EUR) is the official currency but the US dollar is also accepted.
  • Marigot is the capital city.
  • Most restaurants serve authentic French cuisine (croissants, snails, cassoulet, foie gras, etc.)
  • There are more secluded beaches.

Marigot, St Martin

The Dutch Side...

  • has a more “laid-back” Caribbean vibe
  • has duty-free liquor and jewelry stores
  • is more culturally diverse and densely populated
  • The Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) is the official currency but the US dollar is widely accepted.
  • Dutch and English are the official languages but Virgin Islands Creole is also spoken.
  • Philipsburg is the capital city.
  • Restaurants serve a variety of cuisines (Caribbean, Asian, Indian, American, etc.)
  • The SXM airport and main cruise port are located in Sint Maarten.
  • There are 12+ casinos and many night clubs.

St. Martin is a Caribbean jewel...a tale of two countries living harmoniously on one island. The French and Dutch sides of the island are quite different from each other but both Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten are delightful in their own unique way. We enjoy both sides of the island equally but many visitors end up leaving this highly sought-after destination with a strong preference for the north or south. So we want to know—which side is your favorite?

Author Name: 
Kaitlyn Nakagoshi