Destination Island: Sint Maarten

No, that isn’t a typo in the name – this unique little island is actually called Sint Maarten, not Saint.

It boasts a number of other quirky little facts, too – it is the smallest land area in the entire world – 37 square miles – that is not owned by a single country (it is shared between the Netherlands and France); in 2014, it held the record as the country with the highest ratio of gaming machines to people internationally; the highest density of gourmet restaurants anywhere across the globe and it is famous for the majestic low passes of aircraft on landing approach over one of its beaches, a scene you have almost certainly seen featured on television. Phew!

Situated in the picturesque blue waters of the Caribbean, St. Maarten treats visitors to a wonderful experience of contrasts not just between its Dutch and French characters, but also between vibrant and idyllic, between modern and historic and between the rustic and the opulent.

As with any island in the region, St. Maarten is blessed with endless stretches of pristine white beaches. The seaside areas are divided between those that cater to every type of adrenaline-pumping and leisurely watersports under the sun, and those that are simply abodes of tranquility. There are even nude beaches.

The accommodation on the island is simply superb. Because the center of the island is at a higher elevation than the coastal areas, virtually every room across its landscape features a captivating vista of the ocean blue meeting the sky and the clouds. Breathtaking sunrises and sunsets are a daily phenomenon which never grow old.

The island boasts an exciting nightlife, with some of the Caribbean’s most famous nightclubs pulsating with beats from sundown to sunrise, and even later. Try your hand at the many tables, James Bond-style, or while away the night in front of the dazzling arrays of gaming machines.

The island is steeped in history and was fought over by the Dutch and the French after the Spanish left. Another jewel in Sint Maarten’s cap – it is the place where the world’s oldest still-enforced treaty is in place; the Treaty of Concordia was signed in 1648. Numerous buildings from the colonial era are excellently preserved, and museums across the island allow visitors to immerse themselves in its rich culture and heritage.

Sint Maarten is a renowned duty-free shopping paradise. Tens of thousands of tourists annually discover wonderful deals on all manner of items. Front Street in the heart of Philipsburg alone features a mile-long stretch of stores – a shopaholic’s paradise!

The people of Sint Maarten take life in a very laid-back manner. The easy-going has earned it the name ‘The Friendly Island’. Now, what else could you want for the perfect island getaway?