French St Martin stands out as the polar opposite of Dutch St Maarten on their shared tiny landstrips. French indifference overcomes the lack of any border restriction. Crossing from vice tourism in St Maarten it is striking to arrive in a bustling French overseas collectivity. Like other collectivities and overseas departments I have visited, it is French all the way and the tourism is mostly inward-looking to the French-speaking market.
In this series:
- Northern Caribbean Island Hopping Itinerary
- St Maarten – Caribbean Vice
- Video – Maarten Airport Golf Cart Tarmac Transfer
- St Martin – The Quiet Side
- Anguilla – Discretion Island
- Saba – Kong Island of the Caribbean
- Video: Landing at Saba Airport, Shortest Commercial Runway in the World
- St Barth’s – Gorgeous People, Pricey Hamburgers
- St Kitts – Plantation Splurge and Mega Fortress
- Nevis – Is An Hour Enough?
Tourism is small-scale and low-key in St Martin. The cruise ship terminal, main airport and the big resorts are all down in St Maarten so the feeling is of a regular French town in a tropical setting. Those off a cruise ship for a day would do well to take the 15-20 minute taxi up to Marigot. It is more urban than island paradise so a visit is for strolling, eating and shopping, at, admittedly, higher prices than St Maarten. It is also the departure point for regular ferries to Anguilla.
Compared to French St. Barth’s, which requires investment in a ferry or shot-hop flight from St Maarten, St Martin gives a taste of France but not as much of island retreat flavor.