Guess what?! It’s St. Martin’s Day this week! On November 11 we celebrate our beautiful island, our heritage, culture and our people. I’m missing home today, but I wanted to share with you 8 cool things about my island.
1. The island’s indigenous name is Soualiga.
Soualiga means “Land of salt”, named by the Amerindian settlers (Arawak & Carib Indians) that inhabited the island before the arrival of European colonizers. This was because the island had large salt deposits, which was a huge industry for the island for centuries. Columbus sighted Soualiga on November 11, 1493, which was a holiday “St. Martin of Tours" – and that’s where we get St. Martin’s Day.
2. There are 37 beaches, one for every square mile
That’s right – St. Martin is only 37 square miles, but we have an abundance of beaches. And they are each amazing!
3. St. Martin is known for having some of the best gastronomy in the Caribbean.
One thing you will be guaranteed to do in St. Martin is eat good! From local mom & pop restaurants to fine dining, St. Martin boasts some of the best food in the Caribbean. As me for recommendations the next time you are there!
4. Pic Paradis is the island’s highest point and offers amazing views
Pic Paradis (or Paradise Peak translated from French) is located on the French side of the island and is a must see! At the highest point is its 1,391ft high and provides panoramic views of the island as well as nearby islands. You can drive to the top, but you can also hike it as well
5. St. Martin is the smallest island in the world that is divided between two nations. St. Martin (which is the official name for the entire island) is 37 square miles total (which is almost half the size of Washington, DC which is ~68 square miles). The island is divided into St. Maarten (the Dutch side, 16 square miles) and St. Martin (the French side, 21 square miles). Even though there is technically a border in between, both sides of the island have a peaceful treaty and people can travel freely back and forth for the most part. You might see a border monument while crossing the border, which commemorates the peaceful treaty between the two nations.
6. St. Martin is super diverse with 80+ nationalities represented on the island
St. Martin is truly a melting pot. I grew up with people from many different islands and countries. I think that’s what makes it such a special place. You learn to appreciate diversity because you live it daily. Also, 5 different languages are spoken on the island (Dutch, French, Spanish, Papiamento, English), although Dutch and French is are the official languages of the respective sides of the island, while English is commonly spoken.
7. St. Maarten has one of the world most dangerous airports.
Well, most dangerous or most fun, depending on how you look at it, lol. You may have seen the infamous videos on Youtube of planes landing super close to the beach, so much so that they kick up sand into the eyes of those looking on? Yup, that’s us! The runway is short and is just beyond the small beach near Mullet Bay called Caravanserai. The giant 747 plans have to get quite low in order to clear the runway, which is always a show. It is quite the attraction and is VERY exhilarating. I call it “plane catching” and I could spend hours on the beach waiting for the large planes to come in. Just remember to be safe and follow local guidelines (meaning, stay on the beach and don’t try to get close to the plane jet blast).
I hope you enjoyed my list and that you learned something about St. Maarten/St. Martin that you didn’t know before. I recommend everyone visit as it is one of the most beautiful places on earth with the friendliest people you’ll ever meet! They don’t call us “The Friendly Island” for nothing!
Until the next adventure,
Thanks for stopping by Living Life to the T where I share how I find joy & adventure in everyday life; I hope to inspire you to do the same.