Dutch St. Maarten "The Dutch side is officially called Sint Maarten. Some people like the Dutch side best because of the Dutch culture. There's great cuisine on the Dutch side as well. And the shopping is great, especially since there's no tax. There's everything from designer shops to Little Switzerland, the jeweler, to The Dutch Delft Blue Gallery, which sells plates and vases from Dutch artisans. The hotels are more what one would expect on an island: smaller, more intimate, more casual. Philipsburg, the main town, was founded in the 1700s. It has boutiques, an old courthouse, and the St. Maarten Museum, which tells the story of the island. If you want to go on a hike, you can go up to Pic Paradise, the highest point on the island, or Cole Bay Hill. Both have observation decks from which you can see almost the entire island."
     
SHOPPING
"The shopping on St. Maarten is unbelievable. It's not just going down the street and there's a Gucci and the names of boutiques that someone from the mainland would know. You can also go into a boutique on the French side of the island, where French is being spoken, and purchase beautiful clothing and go somewhere you couldn't go to in New York City. The main shopping street on the French side is Rue du General de Gaulle. There are several good jewelry stores on the street, including Helena and Passions, with more affordable pieces. At the Marigot Market, open Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can get everything, including these beautiful hand-dyed, hand-woven sarongs and amazing hats."

LUNCH
"Everything's within walking distance in Marigot, which is on the French side of the island, and little sidewalk cafes dot the streets, like a seaside village in France. You can go to places like Le Tropicana, which specializes in fish. Then go to the Marigot Market. I not only enjoy St. Maarten's finer dining, but I also love going into the French grocery stores, like Supermarche Match, which has all of the famous French cheeses, cookies, and other products that are flown in from France on a regular basis."