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France’s bizarre 34 mile border with the Netherlands on a tiny island nowhere near Europe

France and the Netherlands share a bizarre 34 mile border on a tiny island nowhere near Europe which is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean and has 37 beaches.

Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint Martin share an island in the Caribbean with both sides separated by a border. St Martin is a 34 square mile island divided roughly 60:40 between the French and the Netherlands, it is the smallest island shared by two nations.

The French and the Dutch signed the Treaty of Concordia, also known as the Partition Treaty, on March 23, 1648. So the island was split into two parts, In 2023, Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint Martin settled a nine-year dispute over the exact location of the border between the two territories.

French is spoken in government departments and schools on the French side while on the Dutch side, Dutch is used in government departments and some schools, but English is widely spoken everywhere. 

Known as the ‘island of 37 beaches’ visitors can take in an array of pristine beaches St Martin has to offer. Here you can take in the idyllic crystal- clear waters with rows of coconut palms and sparkling sand.

Measuring at two miles, Orient Bay is on the French side and is the largest beach on the island.  This white sand beach has gentle waves, lined with tiki huts, colourful beach chairs, and restaurants. Orient Bay Beach thrums with action, with a variety of water sports activities on offer, giving it the reputation as the Saint Tropez of the Caribbean. 

The Dutch side also has some beautiful beaches including Mullet Bay, this half-moon shaped bay on the Windward side of the island is protected by a great snorkelling reef. The unspoiled sandy beach can be found right next to a golf course in the southwest, just outside Maho and is more low key than Orient Bay.

If you are looking for exciting nightlife then you are best to stay on the more developed Dutch side, here you will find festivals, drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and casinos. While the French side is known for its traditional French restaurants, clothing, outdoor markets and even its nude beaches. 

The island has open borders allowing you to explore the tastes of two countries in one.

Large hotels and complexes dot the beaches on the Dutch side while on the French side you can discover secluded family boutique hotels.

Nature sanctuary Loterie Farm sits on the French side allowing tourists to hike to the highest point on the island. There is also a zip line or you can just relax with a drink by the pool.

Peak season is between December-April, however, the temperature never drops below 20C.  This Caribbean destination has on average 250 hours of sunshine in each month with about eight to ten hours of sun a day. 


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