When Bob Dylan sang the times they are a changing he could have had the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta in mind. Regular visitors to the regatta will have noted the amazing changes, the advances in technology and the innovation brought to the Caribbean’s most successful regatta by a dedicated race committee.
Keeping the regatta at the forefront of Caribbean sailing takes a huge investment in time and money but the title sponsor, Heineken, have stayed true to their pledge to support the event, proving the regatta’s worth to the sport, the country and the economy.
Reading this year’s entry list is like reading the Who’s Who of Yachting as more top sailors, the celebrated rock stars of the sport, add the St. Maarten
Heineken Regatta to their ‘to do’ list. And why wouldn’t they? This regatta has it all. International Match Racing at the highest level, and a day of racing dedicated to the spinnaker class boats, all leading up to the three-day main event. And this spectacular festival of yachting is topped-off by a round of free parties featuring world-class entertainment. What sailor could ask for more?
Of course, St. Martin is not just about boats and sailing, and many regatta competitors return on vacation to enjoy the total island experience.
Top four things St. Maarten is known for:
A destination with something for everyone!
- Culinary: St. Maarten also known as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” boasts more than 365 restaurants and a variety of cuisines from around the world.
- Nightlife: Nightlife comes alive in St. Maarten with more than 20 nighttime haunts that include Tantra nightclub, Bliss, Sopranos Bar and many more. Just follow the bright lights to Maho with its entertainment and Vegas-like casinos.
- Yachting/Sailing: For sailors, St. Maarten is their haven. Home to the Heineken Regatta, 12-Meter Regatta and a variety of smaller sailing competitions like the race around the island.
- Shopping: For duty-free bargains, Philipsburg is a shoppers’ paradise. Here, jewelry stores and outlets selling the latest in electronic wizardry stand shoulder to shoulder along world-famous Front Street.
In an age of controls and security checks, you don’t need a passport to cross the border on the Friendly Island.
The French side offers a study in contrast that begins with the streets of Marigot, where a chic European mall forms a glittering backdrop for the hustle and bustle of the waterfront street market. Around the coast, the old fishing village of Grand Case, with its mix of local food and fine dining offers a culinary experience to remember.
Dotted around the island, both French and Dutch side, you will find a myriad of diverse activities such as zip-lining through the rainforest, horseback riding, kayaking, cycling and scuba diving. For those who want to live on island time and simply do nothing, St. Martin offers some of the finest beaches on earth on which to do it. And should you want to do nothing sans clothes then you can do that too, on the clothing optional beach at Orient Bay.
If you are interested in Caribbean history, there is no better place to dig into the past than Dutch and French St. Maarten. Pirates, slaves, war, rebellion, rum, it’s all here like a Hollywood movie.
Although we would prefer you didn’t leave, St. Martin is surrounded by several islands. Dutch Saba, British Anguilla and French St. Barth are quite unique and a visit will enhance your Caribbean experience. The islands are easy to get to by ferry, or by air, and offer a fabulous day out.
This is just a little taste of what our sunny island has to offer – a sailors paradise steeped in history; a place of contrast, vibrant nightlife and golden beaches.
Welcome to our shores. Gary Brown is the author of the sailing thriller Caribbean High. He is the Editor of All At Sea Magazine and a radio host on Island 92, 91.9FM. To find out more about Gary or to read his Blog at www.garyebrown.net
General Facts on Location and Culture
12 major airlines serve Princess Juliana Airport (SXM). There are also several season charters flights from the U.S. and Canada. It is approximately a three and a half hour flight from New York.
The island is home to 37 breathtaking beaches all affording spectacular views and pristine white sand.
There are about 56 accommodations for travelers to choose from that range from quaint inns to all-inclusive accommodations.
Activities: Daytime excursions include a variety of activities including boating, hiking, deep-sea fishing as well as island hopping to neighboring islands of Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Guests can pamper themselves at one of the 10 luxurious spas including the Christian Dior Spa at the Cliffs at Cupecoy.
St. Maarten is a true Caribbean melting pot with influences from many parts of the globe, predominantly Africa and Europe. This allows the island to have a dynamic cultural vibe that shines through Caribbean art, literature, poetry and music that is shown in more than 20 art galleries throughout the island. Musically, the island offers a range of Caribbean styles that fuse other elements to create a unique vibe allowing for the unique dance known as “Ponum,” a rhythmic, high-energy jig passed down from the day the islands slaves were emancipated. Ponum is the national dance of St. Maarten.Heiniken Regatta
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