Downtown Philipsburg, Capital of St Maarten
Located between Great Bay and Great Salt Pond, Philipsburg on the island of St. Maarten, is a Caribbean paradise waiting for visitors. Home to less than 1,500 people, Philipsburg is a regular stop-off for the major cruise ships that tour the region.
Despite being a mere four streets and a mile long, Philipsburg has everything that a tourist looks for: great food, sandy beaches and plenty of shopping!
Christopher Columbus landed on St. Maarten in November 1493. However, prior to the Europeans, the island had been inhabited for quite some time. The Arawak Indians were the first to settle the island, but were overtaken by the Carib Indians later on when they arrived.
Although the Spanish moved on, paying little attention to St. Maarten in the beginning, the Dutch fell in love with the Caribbean island. In 1631, the Dutch took over thanks to the island’s strategic placement.
Over the years, St. Maarten would trade hands until March 1648 when the French and Dutch signed the Treaty of Concordia. The treaty split the island into two-halves. The north belonged to the French while the southern territory would be Dutch.
Dutch naval captain, John Philips, founded the capital in 1763, thus beginning the long history of Philipsburg
Where to go
Philipsburg has a lot of great sites. The area is well-known for its beaches and party atmosphere. The town is a haven for tourists looking for items to buy. The whole island is duty-free, giving tourists the chance to do some guilt-free shopping.
Built in 1631, the Fort Amsterdam is located on a gorgeous peninsula filled with ancient ruins. Over the years, artefacts from the Dutch, Spanish and French have been found near the fort, including the discovery of a Spanish officer’s skeleton during a 1987 archaeology dig. Fort Amsterdam is teeming with history, and visitors will get the chance to snap a photo with the old cannons still there.
First built in 1793, the courthouse was John Philips’ house. Later it became a jail, fire station and even a post office. The gorgeous old courthouse is a perfect destination to see the old Philipsburg during a visit.
Old Street is known for the 19th century houses that line it. Many of the old houses contain stores that attract a throng of cruise ship tourists. The street has plenty of little lanes, known as steegjes, running off it. These lanes have little shops running down them for tourists to explore.
Where to eat
The foods of St. Maarten are diverse and mouth-watering. From Caribbean inspire dishes to Dutch delights, tourist will be well-feed when visiting Philipsburg.
One of the local favourites is Taloula Mango’s. The restaurant serves up plenty of Caribbean specialties, including conch fritters. The restaurant is a great place to sit back and watch the world go by. Locals also enjoy Taloula Mango’s shrimp in Creole sauce with rice and peas.
Open from just 10am to 4pm, the Lazy Lizard offers some of the best food in the region. Famous for its banana vanilla BBQ ribs, the restaurant’s happy hour deals are a perfect way to start the evening. Don’t forget to try the jerk chicken and voodoo shrimp while you’re there. It’ll put a spell on you.
Thanks to the town being completely duty-free, tourists looking to do some shopping can find plenty of great deals. Whether it is electronics, jewellery or clothing, visitors should be able to find what they are looking for at a great price.
Philipsburg has plenty of jewellery stores, so if you are looking to get engaged during a trip to the island, look no further than the town’s shops.
Visitors to Philipsburg, and St. Maarten for that matter, rave about the great tasting rum. The family-run Ma Dou Dou has been making specialty rum for over 20 years. With numerous unique flavours like guava berry, vanilla-banana and leche de coco, Ma Dou Dou is the premier rum maker on the island.
Guests on St. Maarten can sample Ma Dou Dou’s out of this world rums and plenty of local foods on the St. Maarten Local Rum and Food Tour. It is a must-see and do.