Sint Maarten: A Blend of Cultures

Discover the Cultural Melting Pot of Sint Maarten: A Caribbean Jewel
St. Maarten
St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a destination that offers a diverse tapestry of cultures that is easily accessible and well-connected. It is a paradise for food, art, and heritage. It is conveniently located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The island is warm and sunny year-round and is easily accessible with direct flights from major cities like Miami, New York, and Atlanta; reaching this vibrant island is a breeze, making it a perfect choice for your next travel adventure. Initially inhabited by the Carib, the island attracted Dutch and French interest due to its strategic location and natural resources. The Treaty of Concordia was signed in 1648, dividing the island between the two nations. The French governed the northern part, now Saint-Martin, and The Dutch took control of the southern part, now known as Sint Maarten. 

Modern-day St. Maarten is like a rich and flavorful gumbo, with over 100 nationalities blending to create a unique and vibrant culture. Imagine ingredients from Jamaica and Trinidad adding a spicy Caribbean kick, while American influences provide a hearty base. The Philippines contributes exotic flavors, and the French add a touch of sophistication. Dutch elements bring a robust and savory depth to the mix. Each nationality adds its unique ingredient, creating a deliciously diverse cultural stew that makes St. Maarten a unique and enticing destination. Let's Start our journey!

Lolos:

Lolos
LolosImage by: That Girl Orange

Lolos is one of the island's most unique features, offering a diverse food community that provides a truly authentic culinary experience unique to St. Maarten. These local food spots are a great way to try authentic dishes infused with one of the island's oldest traditions. "Lolos" originated from the 17th-century plantations where enslaved Africans and merchandise were housed. Over time, the slave living quarters grew into villages, and the warehouses evolved into these local eateries. The term "Lolos" comes from the unit of sale called a "lot," leading to these establishments being named "Lolos." This traditional practice is reminiscent of the familiar concept of food trucks.

Here are some Lolos worth checking out:

Cindy’s Roti Hut:

Cindy’s Roti Hut
Cindy’s Roti HutPhoto: That Girl Orange

To experience authentic Trinidadian cuisine with a smile, visit Cindy’s Roti Hut (148 Back St, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten). The owner, Cindy, is a Trinidadian who has lived in Sint Maarten for several years and serves delicious roti and doubles. Make sure you get there early because there is a chance she will sell out.

Sexy Beef:

Sexy Beef
Sexy BeefPhoto: Bronwyn Knight

Sexy Beef is among the few lolos with a full bar and a unique name story. The owner named it after her boyfriend's affectionate nickname for her, "Sexy Beef." Their menu features Caribbean cuisine with a Creole twist. Marla Chemont, an island local, shared this with us: "Most locals consider johnny cake, ribs, chicken, salt fish with cheese, or any relish as our national dish, and you can find them all over the island." Some lolos to check out are: The Captin D's Rib Shack, The Original Fat Boy BBQ


If you are looking for traditional restaurants, we recommend venturing to the French side and dining atL'Altier for dinner. The restaurant's concept is simple: offer the finest meat, prepared naturally, without sacrificing flavor. For a laid-back vibe, visitKalatua Beach Restaurant at Mullet Bay Beach. Grab a cabana, sip a cocktail, and enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine and a breathtaking view!

Culture: Land and Sea

Underwater Museum
Underwater MuseumPhoto: UnderSXM

First, we will visit an underwater museum! Under SXM is an artificial reef sculpture adventure park and a breathtaking new eco-attraction in Little Bay, Sint Maarten. It features over 300 artificial reef sculptures along a designated trail, offering guests an unforgettable snorkeling adventure. During our visit, we saw firsthand how our sculptures significantly contribute to creating a protected habitat for marine species (the fish love the sculptures).  Made from eco-friendly materials, the sculptures integrate seamlessly. The museum offers a haven for juvenile fish and promotes coral settlement, enhancing the underwater environment.

UnderSXM
UnderSXMPhoto: UnderSXM

The sculptures were selected by community members who played a vital role in this project. The revenue generated from the attraction is reinvested into the community, emphasizing ocean education and conservation efforts. Each sculpture tells unique stories of the history and culture of this remarkable island. We recommend you take the plunge! 

The best way to experience this underwater extravaganza is by booking with Aqua Mania Adventures. It's just one of the many sea adventures they offer. Whether scuba diving, enjoying a tango dinner on the water, or island hopping to St. Barts or Anguilla, they have something for everyone!

Underwater Museum
Underwater MuseumPhoto: UnderSXM
Exploring the Underwater Museum
Exploring the Underwater Museum Photo: UnderSXM
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It's time to return to land and check out another unique museum. Next, we will visit We Culture, the world's first museum dedicated to carnival. Marvel at dozens of vibrant carnival costumes, each narrating a unique tale of heritage. Rich in meaning and artistry, these costumes capture the spirit of carnival through the ages, inviting visitors to unravel the intricate stories interlaced in every fabric and feather. 

We Culture
We CulturePhoto: #thatgirlorange

Each work of art is more captivating than the last, each telling its unique story. Discover the origins and cultural history of carnivals through the lens of Trinidadian painter Larysa Malsagova.

We Culture
We CulturePhoto: #thatgirlorange

Enhance your museum experience with a walking tour led by Gereld, a designer who has crafted hundreds of carnival costumes. He is the Bob Mackie of carnival attire; Gerald has even created outfits for Beyoncé.

Accommodations:

Morgan Resort and Spa
Morgan Resort and SpaPhoto: Morgan Resort and Spa

St. Maarten offers a variety of accommodations to suit any trip. The Morgan Resort and Spa is perfect if you want something close to the airport with great nightlife. The hotel features rooms with stunning ocean views and an infinity pool. It also offers three dining options, including SALT, where Executive Chef Derio Boyce orchestrates delicious French Caribbean cuisine. The Morgan hosts nightly events, such as ladies' night and live music, and is within walking distance of the famous Maho Beach, where you can watch planes fly directly overhead.

The new JW Marriott St. Maarten Beach Resort & Spa is ideal if you want something more laid-back. Located on the beautiful Dawn beach, the rooms have views of the pristine white sandy beaches. 

JW Marriott St. Maarten Beach Resort & Spa
JW Marriott St. Maarten Beach Resort & SpaPhoto: JW Marriott St. Maarten Beach Resort & Spa

The on-property restaurant Liguria offers Mediterranean cuisine with Executive Chef Wendell Laurence at the helm. The restaurant uses fresh herbs and vegetables grown on-site in its garden, also used by the property's bars.

Mediterranean Cuisine from Liguria
Mediterranean Cuisine from LiguriaPhoto: #thatgirlorange
Mediterranean Cuisine from Liguria
Mediterranean Cuisine from LiguriaPhoto: #thatgirlorange

Hopping Around:

One of the best things about St. Maarten is its prime location, making it easy to island hop for the day. Nearby islands like Anguilla and St. Barts are just a short flight away. Saba is another unique island and only a 12-minute flight from St. Maarten. Known as the "Unspoiled Queen" of the Caribbean, Saba is known for its pristine natural beauty and well-preserved environment. With a small population of around 1,900 residents, it boasts a tight-knit community feel. Unlike many Caribbean islands, Saba has no natural sandy beaches; rocky cliffs and volcanic formations characterize its rugged coastline. Saba is also famous for its exceptional diving spots, with the Saba Marine Park surrounding the island, protecting its rich marine biodiversity and offering stunning underwater experiences. We suggest hiking if you plan on a land visit for the day. Saba is home to 20 diverse hiking trails, and Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom. There is a lot of history on the island, including Saba lace. The unique needlework has been a traditional craft on the island since the late 19th century. Make sure to visit The Saba Lace Room to learn more. We also suggest taking a glass-blowing class at JoBeans

Saba
SabaPhoto: Saba Tourism Board

Saba also has the world's shortest commercial runway, an experience all its own. The island is worth checking out, and this Summer, Winair's partnership with Princess Juliana Airport creates an exclusive day-trip deal. You can fly roundtrip from St. Maarten to Saba for $79. 

Winair
WinairPhoto: Winair

See you in Sint Maarten!

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