St Maarten/ St Martin has a unique and fascinating history. This Dutch and French Caribbean island – the smallest island divided by two nations – has attracted humans to her shores for millennia. First as ‘The land of Salt’ and now as ‘The Friendly Island’.
Our half day History Tour takes you around the entire island while visiting historic landmarks and beautiful viewpoints. You’ll hear about St Maarten/ St Martin’s geological and natural history and her humans: from Amerindians to Explorers, Settlers and Slaves, Pirates and our current melting pot.
For a detailed description of the History Tour see below.
|When||Several times a week|
|Pick Up 1||From Dock Maarten in Philipsburg – a 10 minute walk from the cruise ship pier|
|Pick Up 2||From all hotels in Philipsburg and Oyster Pond|
|Time||8.30 am – noon|
What to wear/ bring: The History Tour involves a minimum of two 10 minute uphill walks. Wear walking shoes, a hat and suntan lotion. And bring your camera :).
Included in this trip are: drinks and snacks.
We’ll have cold water, iced tea and iced coffee with a piece of homemade banana bread.
Detailed Description of the St Maarten History Tour
Depending on the weather, the size and level of fitness of the group we’ll visit the following sites while driving around the entire island sightseeing both the Dutch and French side:
St Martin mainly consists of sand, limestone and layered rock. We’ll visit one of the two sites where layered rock is clearly visible.
Long before the passing of Columbus on Saint Martin’s day in 1493, Indians originating from the Amazon basin lived on St Martin. Both sides of the island have an archaeologist and together they have found a lot of Arawak artifacts and the oldest human remains in the Caribbean. Unfortunately we’re not allowed to visit the plateau where once an Arawak village was and a cave with signs of the Arawak has been filled up and built over. There is one site where one can witness an ancient well and engravings on a rock but it is not easy to reach since no roads lead up to it, so we’ll just be pointing out the areas where we’re sure the Arawak have once lived.
St Martin has the remains of three forts of which two can be visited. Each fort offers a great view of one of the two capitals our small island is rich and form a lovely background for the conquest and pirate stories of St Martin. We’ll visit at least one of the forts.
The first inhabitants of St Martin, the Arawak, called the island Soualiga meaning Land of Salt. The naturally salt producing ponds of St Martin were also the reason for the Dutch to return after they had an unplanned stop over on St Martin in 1624. We’ll show you what Great Salt Pond looked like in her hey day and you’ll be able to see the difference in her appearance today.
For centuries St Martin’s economy was based on salt production and agriculture during the plantation era. Of the more than 100 plantations in the colonial peak times only two – Golden Rock and Industry – have been conserved in one big park called the Emilio Wilson Estate. In the park remains of the plantation house and ruins of the surrounding farm buildings can be found.We’ll visit this park and give the hardships of those times a moment of thought as well as enjoy the lovely scenery and marvelous trees in the park.
The Emilio Wilson Estate is subject to controversy at the moment since government has long-leased parts of the park to a foreign company which will build a zip-lining course from the now unspoiled peak of Sentry Hill. The Sentry Hill summit still has original dry forest from before the plantation era and thriving native bat populations, it would be ideal as the Dutch side’s first protected Terrestrial Park.
During our round of the island we’ll pass by and point out more historical highlights such as the King of Tintamarre and the border monument celebrating the Treaty of Concordia which manifests a peaceful sharing between the Dutch and French of our lovely island in the Caribbean Sea.