Philipsburg is the main town and capital of Sint Maarten, a small island in the Caribbean. Split into two halves, the northern portion of the island is called Saint Martin and is a French colony, and the southern part is called Sint Maarten and is a Dutch colony. Even though it has a population of just 1,327 Philipsburg acts as the central commercial hub for both parts of the island and is located on a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond.

A brief history of Philipsburg

In 1493, Christopher Columbus spotted the island and named it San Martín, however, the Spanish didn't make prioritize settling on the island. However, the French wanted to colonize the islands between Trinidad and Bermuda and the Dutch found San Martín a convenient halfway point between their colonies in New Amsterdam (present-day New York) and Brazil. With few people inhabiting the island, the Dutch were quickly able to settle there in 1631, erecting Fort Amsterdam to protect from invaders at the site that later became Philipsburg. John Philips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy, founded the actual town in 1763. Phillipsburg soon became busy with international trade. The two historic forts, Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem, bear witness to Philipsburg's strategic importance in St. Maarten's history.

Things to do in Philipsburg

Fort Amsterdam is a historic fort and well worth a visit, it is located on a 2.5 km long peninsula near Great Bay and Little Bay. The fort changed hands many times, as it was built by the Dutch in 1631 and was later captured by the Spanish, who occupied it as a military post until 1648. In the same year, a partition agreement signed by the Dutch and French, and the fort handed back over to the Dutch Republic. Today, the fort is decaying somewhat but is still worth visiting. There are several rusting 19th-century cannons and some tourist information. It is now a registered historical site and identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because there is a breeding colony of brown pelicans on the west side of the point, on a slope below the fort. The Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit is an unusual and fun place to visit; it is a museum created by special-effects designer Nick Maley. It features Star Wars props and costumes, plus a gift shop. If you like shopping then head straight down to Old Street, it is full of colourful shops, stalls, bars, restaurants, and cafes to enjoy.

Beaches around Philipsburg

Little Bay Beach is your classic tropical beach, complete with palm trees, white sands; it is perfect for boating, snorkelling taking in the views of Fort Amsterdam. Guana Bay Beach is on the eastern coast of the island, it is quite wavy due to its location on the Atlantic Coast, but the consistent waves and breeze make it suitable for surfing, or just playing! Great Bay Beach is full of amenities and close to the boardwalk, there are restaurants, bars and jet skis and umbrellas for hire, it's a tropical paradise!

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Travel guides and tips: PHILIPSBURG (ST MAARTEN)

Discover how to reach and what to do to Philipsburg (St Maarten): tips, events, local festivals, culture, food and all the other details to explore Philipsburg (St Maarten) can be found on our blog!

The Dutch Caribbean – also known as the Dutch West Indies – are colonial islands belonging to the Dutch Empire and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They are located i...