Did you know that St. Maarten is the smallest country shared by two governments, the Dutch and French? Come and visit this historic agreement by first taking a look through Phillipsburg; the capital of the Dutch St Maarten. Phillipsburg is a prominent hub for tourists and the most developed city on the island that sits on a narrow stretch of land mass between the Great Salt Pond and Great Bay. A place of intense history offers travelers tax and duty-free shopping, casinos for entertainment, multicultural dining selections, ample water sports activities, and a popular boardwalk. Whether it’s your first trip or you are returning, Phillipsburg provides loads of leisure things to accommodate your vacations needs, within the view of gorgeous crystal blue waters.
Christopher Columbus sighted this island on 11 November 1493 with Arawak inhabitants. Later John Phillips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy founded Phillipsburg in 1763 and from then a steady growth made Phillipsburg what is it today. Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem are 2 historic forts which are of importance to the Dutch Side.
Front street is a big outdoor mall which is the central district for shoppers. This 1-mile shopping avenue is of viewing distance to the white sandy beach of Great Bay offering colorful tight fitted retailers promoting shocking prices and discounts. Jewelry, electronics, fashionable clothing or tasty liquors are rewards of this street. Be sure to check out Front Street! Front Street can be accessed by walking through any of the gaps between the beachfront restaurants. Old Street and Back Street is located parallel to Front Street where you can quickly get household items or a perfect party outfit for a festive evening. It’s the most lively place to go shopping on the island!
Another stop would be the classic Court House. Phillipsburg’s historic courthouse was built in 1793 by Commander John Phillips and has been renovated many times to conserve its worth. It has been previously used as a jail, a fire station and a post office, however, today solely as a court of law. The carved wooden pineapple above the cupola is the international symbol of welcome. Unfortunately, it was blown away by the hurricane. The coat of arms of Sint Maarten is below the cupola. It features several national symbols. This view is one of the most photographed between the boardwalk and front streets.
For those who want to learn about the local history and culture, geology, hiking, cycling, and kayaking trips, visit St. Maarten Museum. This museum is rather small, almost hidden on Front Street surrounded by its neighboring retailers. It was built in the 1800s which focus on the local heritage by showcasing Arawak pottery shards, plantation-era artifacts, period photos and a few items from HMS Proselyte, the frigate that sank off Fort Amsterdam in 1801. Some items on display include coin collections and model ships. Along with exhibits covering events such as the 1995’s devastating Hurricane Luis, the salt industry and slavery. Caribbean arts and crafts can be purchased downstairs at the little shop.
Although Phillipsburg can be extremely busy, there is always room for relaxation. Take a stroll on the boardwalk along Great Bay Beach with granting the opportunity to rent a chair and umbrella for the day while feeling the ocean breeze and gorgeous blue water. Don’t worry about prices as there is intense competition for rentals. When you need a break from the sun, small bars, restaurants, and local souvenir shops are close by.
Phillipsburg is also home for the delicious cuisine by the diverse restaurants. Chesterfields is a well-known restaurant for their incredible views of Great Bay as well as their tasty local menus. Take advantage of their dinner menu with seafood options of scallops, shrimp, lobster and fresh fish including grouper, Mahi Mahi, tuna, and conch fritters. Meals are well portioned and reasonably priced. Ideal location, upscale meal, excellent service and a proud awarded winning restaurant, Ocean Lounge offers European-Caribbean cuisine with appetizers such as tiger shrimp and grilled Buffalo mozzarella. Looking for a laid back environment, check out Lazy Lizard Beach Bar and Grill which gets 5-star reviews for great vibes, atmosphere and friendly customer service. This restaurant caters to tourists’ lunch desires with a beach chair rentals service as well, hot sauces for purchase, and rums for sale. Finger licking burgers, Caribbean curry, mojitos, and local Johnnycakes, and jerk chicken wings are just a few of the dishes that keep customers coming back. Do not forget to check out the smallest bar in the world, Juggie’s Place.
Bring a friend or a loved one to experience the heart of the Dutch Side of St. Maarten. It’s all here in Philipsburg!