Saint Martin

Environment:

Saint Martin consists of the northern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, in the Leeward Islands, east of the US Virgin Islands. It has low, hilly terrain of volcanic origin. The highest point is Pic du Paradis at 424 meters (1,391 feet). The main environmental issue is lack of freshwater, which is dependent on the desalinization of sea water. French Saint Martin is generally more rural than the neighboring, smaller state of Dutch Sint Maarten, which is more urban; for instance, the island’s main international airport lies on the Dutch side.

Saint Martin is often referred to as the “schizophrenic island”, due to the two cultures in such close proximity; for instance, both sides maintain their own marine reserves. On Saint Martin there is the Réserve Nationale Naturelle de Saint-Martin to the east of the island. On land, Loterie Farm is a private nature reserve, and tourist attraction complete with zip lines. Guide tours of the Butterfly Farm St Martin are also available, designed and built by two eccentric Englishmen. Caribbean Paddling offers kayak tours to Pinel Island, as does Wind Adventures. Island resident (and extreme shallow snorkeler), Mark Yokoyama published The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of St. Martin in 2010.

Culture:

The 87 square kilometer (34 square miles) island is divided roughly 60/40 between France and the Netherlands; however, the Dutch side has the larger population. The division dates back to 1648. The northern French part is called an overseas collectivity of France, and as such is territory of the European Union (see Outermost Regions). Sometimes SXM, the IATA identifier for Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side, is used to refer to the island as a whole; for instance, the website SXM Hotspots lists available Internet options in both Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.

As of 2012, both Saint Martin and Sint Maarten were making efforts to unify their tourism marketing, together with neighboring islands, under a new tourism organization for Northern Caribbean islands, based out of St. Barths. Due to the French penchant for naturism, Saint Martin is famed for its nude beaches, discussed at length in the website SXM Beaches. Of course, there are also clothing optional resorts available, such as Club Orient and Club Fantastico. Artlovers SXM presents an online guide to the art and artists of Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. Saint Martin is only a 20 minute ferry ride from neighboring Anguilla, via Anguilla Ferry.

References:

  • Tourisme, patrimoine et développement durable dans les Antilles françaises by JM Breton, 2011
  • ‘Retour au pays’ et développement touristique aux Antilles françaises by MM Fomoa-Adenet, 2011
  • Le tourisme des Antilles françaises: Le défi de la concurrence caribéenne by S Bessiere, 2010
  • Tourisme et ressources forestières dans les Petites Antilles by O Dehoorne & P Saffache, 2008
  • Les perspectives limitées du tourisme en milieu insulaire Le cas de la Caraïbe et des Antilles françaises by Y Urunuela, 2004
  • La diffusion touristique dans les Antilles françaises by M Desse, 1999
  • Saint-Martin et Saint-Barthélémy; deux ‘paradis touristiques’ si proches et si différents by T Hartog & JP Chardon, 1996
  • Saint-Martin ou l’implacable logique touristique by JP Chardon & T Hartog, 1995
  • Quel tourisme pour les Antilles françaises? by JP Chardon & T Hartog, 1992
  • Tourisme et utilisation du littoral dans les Petites Antilles by M Burac, 1989
  • Aménagements touristiques et bouleversements écologiques dans les petites îles: l’exemple de Saint-Martin by Y Monnier, 1987
  • Le Tourisme Et Le Developpement Du Trafic Aerien: France-Antilles by FU Kothe, 1983