Saint Martin’s bicultural setup offers twice the experience, doubling the fun and excitement. This seemingly tiny island also packs a ton of beaches and charming tourist-friendly towns that add to its draws. Saint Lucia, the “Helen of the Caribbean” is undoubtedly beautiful, filled with natural beauty that provides a perfect backdrop for honeymooners from all around.
Where are Saint Martin and Saint Lucia?
Saint Martin and Saint Lucia are both small jewels of the Caribbean Sea, straddling across the Lesser Antilles. Both boast some of the most ridiculous views of the Caribbean with postcard-worthy flair and a knack for the theatrics by its natural beauty. Saint Martin is an island both shared by two European powers, France and the Netherlands, while Saint Lucia is an independent, self-governing, island nation a great league south of Saint Martin.
Saint Lucia neighbors another French Caribbean, the island of Martinique to the north, and another sovereign archipelago to the south, the islands of Saint Vincent and Grenadines. Saint Martin, a hybrid of a Dutch constituent country, Sint Maarten, and a French collectivity that shares the name “Saint Martin”, neighbors Anguilla to the north and another French territory, Saint Barthelemy to the south.
How Far Is Saint Lucia from Saint Martin?
These two beautiful islands in the Caribbean are situated far apart from each other. Saint Lucia is approximately 512 kilometers or 318 miles south of Saint Martin. You can get in between these islands is by flying, via regional air carriers, like Air Caraibes and Air Antilles. If you decide to take it slow and see the scenic nautical route, you can take a ferry with L’Express des Iles either from Fort-de-France from Saint Martin, or Castries from Saint Lucia.
The Charms of Saint Martin
What makes French Saint Martin unique is its division, or rather a shared island territory with the Dutch Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Should an eager traveler, or an adventurous holidaymaker decide to visit Saint Martin, it will be like hitting two birds with one stone, or in this case one plane ticket to two countries.
French Saint Martin is not an independent country, as it remains to be a part of the French Republic as one of the overseas territories and regions. Officially called the Collectivity of Saint Martin, the French side of the island of the same name is seen as the laid-back and more relaxed part. Thanks to its French parentage, the laissez-faire attitude trickles down to its tourist culture, offering relaxation, with high-end undertones, like fashion-forward locals, romantic boulangeries, and luxury shopping.
History of Saint Martin
The island of Saint Martin, after its discovery by Christopher Columbus, was colonized initially by the Spaniards. The colonizing Spaniards conquered the Caribs who, first decimated the original Arawak people on the island. But as the Spaniards began establishing their settlements around the Caribbean, other colonial powers have are also making their stand, which then led to numerous armed conflicts.
This led to the Dutch settling into the island for its salt ponds, which led to a continuous war with the Spanish. After the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish eventually saw no economic value to the island and left it, which was then occupied by the Dutch.
The French later began settling on the island and established plantations. The continuous development of the Dutch and French on the island has developed it into a flourishing outpost. However, this didn’t end in conflict, but rather an agreement to divide the island between their two territories.
You can say that the island is colonized by two former colonial powers, the southern side was controlled by the Dutch, which eventually became a constituent country called Sint Maarten. The north was controlled by the French, and became a collectivity of France, and became Saint Martin we know today.
Draws of Saint Martin
Today, Saint Martin, and Sint Maarten, together make up one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean with a knack for enticing locals because of its seemingly bicultural landscape, and gifted natural beauty. Saint Martin, dominated by descendants of emancipated slaves from the colonial era, together with a plethora of other cultures and ethnicities that often their way to the beautiful island has contributed much to the colorful and vibrant island today.
Saint Martin is known for many things, although it shares tons of similarities with other Caribbean islands. For it is, after all, an equally special and gifted island. But the curiosities and uniqueness of the island’s geopolitical situation make it all the more worth it of the hype.
French Saint Martin boasts many of the islands’ best beaches. As Dutch Sint Maarten embodies the cosmopolitan vibe of a developed country, the French side has its chill, laid-back, and relatively simpler life as its biggest draw. If you have gorgeous beaches, French attitudes, chic fashion and shopping, and the best food on the island, you have a perfect recipe for a must-visit island.
The Charms of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is in itself a sovereign island nation, with no political ties to any larger European or American country, unlike Saint Martin with France. This small self-governing island has been an independent nation since 1979 from the British commonwealth. Being a tropical island with a British flair, with multicultural undertones that merely tells a long colorful history, Saint Lucia has been dubbed one of the most fought over islands, if not the most in the Caribbean, and with good reason.
The island is part of the Windward Islands, a chain of islands that straddles down to South America. Saint Lucia, often lovingly referred to as a “she”, is approximately 43 kilometers, or 27 miles long, and 22 kilometers, or 14 miles wide, and has 20 or more so islets just off its coasts. This geographical detail has further made Saint Lucia one of the top tourist spots in the Caribbean, staying true to its “sought-after” reputation that started since the colonial period.
History of Saint Lucia
Initially occupied by the French for extensive periods, decimating the original Arawaks, and Caribs, Saint Lucia was actually colonized by a French pirate named Francois Le Clerc as opposed to the Spaniard Juan de Cosa. Le Clerc staved off the Spanish via the Pigeon Island by attacking them in the 1550s which eventually turned the island into an important historic town attracting tourist masses today.
The eventful colonial history of Saint Lucia has given it as one of the most sought, or rather, fought after islands in the region, like the Helen of the Caribbean. At that time, the Dutch, French, and British colonial powers fought over the islands one too many times. The Dutch first tried their hand on the island, by building Vieux Fort in the 1600s, but the relentless Caribs drove them out. Then, the British sent 400 settlers to the island in 1639 in the hopes to turn it into a colony but were wiped out by the Caribs soon after.
The French West India Company came in 1651 and bought the land from the Caribs to make it a French colony. However, upon knowing this, the English sent over a thousand men to take back the island after their failed attempt at colonizing it. This, apparently ended in armed conflict that continued until 1814, when the French ceded Saint Lucia to the English.
After ceding to the English, which then became the British Empire for the rest of its history until 1979, where it gained full independence, which eventually gave them a thriving economy and a sovereign government.
Saint Lucia Today
From the descendants of the Carib people, the emancipated African slaves, and a slew of other cultures and ethnicities who have migrated to the island, part of Saint Lucia’s magic is its people. A diverse, melting pot of multicultural, and multiethnic influences has further elevated its “Helen of the Caribbean” reputation as one of the most interesting, beautiful, and exciting islands to visit in the Caribbean.
The island is riddled with geothermal activity, picturesque mountain views, enchanting rainforests, white and volcanic sand beaches, and teeming aquatic life, full of corals of different colors, arguably, Saint Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands in the region. Its natural beauty and curious land features were even colloquially coined as parts of Saint Lucia’s body. The tallest mountain of the island resembles her face, the twin peaks of Pitons are her breasts, and the Sulphur Springs are her reproductive parts.
Due to its top-rated beauty, the island was even ranked as the top honeymoon destination by the World Travel Awards, nine times. Apart from its natural gifts, a huge credit to this ranking is due to the many insanely beautiful resorts that are said to be very accommodating, and service-oriented, catering to almost every whim of holidaymakers.
Is Saint Martin Better Than Saint Lucia?
Nobody has ever cracked the code that decides which Caribbean Island is better. With that much beauty and variety, who can? However, the best and possibly the only factor that will decide which is which, is you. Only you get to decide which is better. But you can only do that once you have decided what you want out of a Caribbean destination.
If you want two equally beautiful destinations on one island, jampacked with sights, dynamic people, double the culture, and twice the fun, then Saint Martin is the place for you. In fact, just French Saint Martin itself is enough to give you the necessary Caribbean experience you’re looking for. Just think tropical paradise, in Little France.
However, if you’re looking for geological curiosities, anglophone locals, and extra romance, then Saint Lucia is the place to be. This island has tons for you to explore, and a whole lot of history going on, against a beautiful backdrop of natural beauty. Saint Lucia is as romantic as they say it is and is arguably one of the most beautiful places in all of the Caribbean. Just let her inspire you.