St. Martin is an island of dual personalities thanks to a 1648 division of land between the Dutch and the French. The northern part of the island is the French side (St. Martin) and, along with several neighboring islets, makes up the Collectivity of St. Martin. The southern portion of the island (Sint Maarten) belongs to the Netherlands. My first experience with the island was in the late 1990s when some friends and I decided to put our sailing skills to the test and chartered a boat to sail the local seas. A few years later I returned for my wedding which cemented the island in my heart as as one of my favorite places.
The colorful and elaborately carved gazebo serves as the centerpiece of this open air theatre space in Marigot.
The architecture in St. Martin is similar to that of the neighboring Caribbean islands. There are plenty of bright colors in celebration of the local scenery and open air spaces to take advantage of the warm breezes. The structures are largely concrete, two to three stories tall and built to withstand hurricanes. Decorative details are largely comprised of carved fretwork and decorative wrought iron balconies.
For my latest trip to the island, I returned for a long weekend to celebrate my tenth anniversary. As much as I love the colors and sights of St. Martin, I must admit that I saw little more than the unbelievably bright turquoise waters and the warm, tan sand.
Maybe next time we'll be able to stay longer and see a bit more. Until then...