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 The Caribbean Island of Saint Martin

Saint Martin beach viewSaint Martin is a tropical island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km (186 miles) east of Puerto Rico. The smallest inhabited sea island divided between two nations, divided roughly between France (53km2) and the Netherlands Antilles (34km2) making the islands size a total of (87km2). The southern half holds the Eilandgebied Sint Maarten.


In 1493, Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage to the New World. According to legend, Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honor, Columbus named the island San Martin. This name was translated to Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint Martin (French and English).

Saint Martin's Cathedral

When Columbus sailed these seas, St. Martin was populated, if populated at all, by Carib Amerindians. The former Arawaks had been chased by the Caribs coming from the North coast of South America a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards who followed in Columbus' wake. The English word cannibal is derived from the Spanish pronunciation for Carib. The Arawaks were agricultural people who fashioned pottery and whose social organization was headed by hereditary chieftains who derived their power from personal deities called zemis.

The Caribs' territory was not completely conquered until the mid-17th century when most of them perished in the struggle between the French, English, Dutch, Danes and Spanish for control of the West Indies. The Dutch first began to ply the island's ponds for salt in the 1620s. Despite the Dutch presence on the island, the Spaniards recaptured St. Martin in 1633 and, one year later, built a fort (now Ft. Amsterdam) and another artillery battery at Pointe Blanche to assert their claim and control access to Great bay salt pond.

The Spaniards introduced the first African slaves to the area in the 16th century but the main influx of African slaves took place in the 18th century with the development of Sugarcane plantations by the French Protestants and some Dutch Jews. Slavery was abolished in the first half of the 19th century, whereupon on some of their territories the British imported Chinese and East Indians to take the place of slaves. Thus, St. Martin and the other islands are populated by a mixture of Amerindian, European, African, Indians and Asian peoples. West Indian cultures such as in St. Martin are, consequently, exceedingly rich and varied.

 Things To Do In Saint Martin

Boat trips
There are plenty of full or half day boat trips available on the island. Try a day trip to one of the neighboring islands and hideaways. Voyager goes daily to St. Barths from Marigot or Oyster Pond. No departure tax!

The lower priced Rapid Explorer leaves from Bobby's Marina (Philipsburg) to St. Barth's. Please, keep in mind that departure taxes apply, which brings the rates at par.

Various Day charter companies provide services, either from the Marigot Marina Royale, from Anse Marcel or from Great Bay in Philipsburg. Another exciting trip is guaranteed on the popular catamaran Scoobidoo (Oyster Pond)
Go Kart
Scheduled to open in May, the Go Kart site is in its final stage to open doors soon, at some point in June 2009! The site offers a great introduction to the world of motorsport for enthusiastic youngsters (and adults alike!). A place to go for a fun gocart racing day with family and friends, or for your next kid's birthday party ! Located in La Savane on the main road to Grand Case, right behind the Gess gas station.

Since May 2009, you can go out on an action packed day at the Paintball site on St. Martin! Located on the road to Orient Bay, next to the Cadisco gas station. The site makes full use of the space provided and it is littered with barricades, old trucks and cars that you will need to use to your advantage during the adrelanie intensive venue! Open Saturdays + Sundays from 9am to 5pm. Admission: 20 €uros including equipment (vest, helmet, gun). Bullets charged separately. Minimum age: 12yr. Bring good shoes and well protecting cloths (long sleeves, long pants!)

Surfing and Body Boarding
Winter waves reach the North and West coasts of St Maarten/St Martin from November through March. The East coast comes alive with the passing of tropical systems from July through November. Some of the most popular surf spots include Guana Bay, Le Galion, Mullet Bay and Orient Bay. Board rentals are available at Le Galion beach and Orient Bay,

Windsurfing with the gentle trade winds on St Martin is a treat! Season starts in winter with the so called "Christmas Winds". Otherwise, Southern trade winds provide consistent conditions averaging 15 knots until July. Intermediates and advanced wind surfers should definitely go to Orient Bay despite its frequent choppy conditions as the bay is facing the windward Atlantic coast. The possibilities are endless here: flat water sailing; swell and chop sailing between Green Cay and Pinel Island; speed runs to Pinel from Club Orient; or wave sailing in the reef at Green Cay. Another great place for Wind surfers, beginners and intermediates, is Le Galion Beach. 

 Getting Married in St. Martin

Getting Married in St. Martin

You need to spend a month on the French side of St Martin to get married,
Because of this most couples choose to get married on the Dutch side of the island in St Maarten. Here are the requirements for St Maarten:

1. Foreign couples planning on getting married on St. Maarten without the consent of parents must be at least 21 years of age, persons with a Netherlands nationality should be 23 years of age.
2. Foreign couples must request permission from the Lt Governor of the Island Territory of St Maarten to marry (see address below). Please note that it can take up to two months to receive a reply, and you need to be on island two days before your ceremony. if permission is granted a temporary tourist permit will be issued in order to contract a marriage.
3.Registration at the office of Civil Registry needs to take place at least ten days before the marriage. This can be done by faxing their office at the address below
4. Divorced persons may remarry in St Maarten but should provide a recent extract of divorce of this current year. Divorced women, can only remarry after 306 days upon inscription into the registry of divorce at the office of Civil State.

 Documents Required
* A full abridged birth certificate to prove the legality of the same.
* In the event persons are not of Dutch nationality, a valid passport is required
* Address of both parties
* Duration of stay on St. Maarten
* Unmarried persons must present a declaration of marital status not older than 3 months
* If widow(er), a death certificate
* If divorced, a divorce certificate or a final judgment decree
* For minors (under 21 years of age), permission of the parents is required;
* Names of parents, maiden names of mother including place of birth and birth date;
* Professions of the bride, the groom and the parents
* 6 (six) witness if the marriage is performed outside of the Marriage Hall, 2 witnesses if it is to be performed at Wedding Hall. Non-Dutch witnesses must present a valid passport or a birth certificate with a picture I.D.

Original documents other than Dutch or English need to be translated into the Dutch language (i.e. a French or Spanish document must be translated into Dutch, not English). The following person can do translations on the island: Cheryl LaBega, Language translator, Government Administration Building, Clern LaBega's Square, Philipsburg, St Maarten. Pleas not that one to two weeks is required for translation.

The cost for contracting foreign marriages is US$275.55 and includes civil ceremony, marriage books, stamps and certificates.
Registrars Offices

The registrar's office should be contacted for specific rules regarding planning your destination or beach wedding in St Martin. They will also provide information regarding marriage licenses and marriage certificates.

Chief Registrar
Office of Civil Registry and Census Office
Soualiga Road
Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Tel: 599 542 2457
Fax: 599 542 4267
Lt Governor Franklyn Richards
Government Administration Building
Clem Labega's Square
PO Box 943
St Maarten
Fax: 599 542 4884

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