Dutch St. Maarten is a great place to stop just to shop. Its capital is Philipsburg and fills a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond. It is a bustling center of international trade with lively shopping streets, cafes, and hotels. Strangely enough it has two main streets called Front Street and Back Street.
On Front Street, which is the main thoroughfare, duty-free shops line the road as far as the eye can see. These duty-free shops offer everything from Italian leather goods and Japanese cameras to native crafts. Don't be afraid to venture the alleyways that will lead you to arcades and courtyards filled with flowers.
The Courthouse is the most prominent landmark on Front Street. It is a grand white wooden structure topped with a cupola built in 1793. Front Street also includes the Simartin Museum so that visitors can get and excellent introduction to local St. Maartin history. There are also historical forts that are monuments to Philipsburg's strategic importance in St. Maarten's history.
Philipsburg has not been left behind in the time, however. It has combined its historical legacy with 20th century excitement. Since its waterfront has become a popular stop for cruise ships, the shore of this town is covered with restaurants, cafes and nightclubs that offer entertainment well into the night.