St. Martin/Sint Maarten What is known for


Sail in the 12-Metre Challenge, with five 70-foot yachts made famous in the America's Cup race with travelers-turned-crew.

Relax on the beaches. If you want to erase your tan lines, head for clothing-optional Orient Bay. Or, if you're a little more modest, try Baie Longue, which has the island's most expansive stretch of white-sand beach. Or pick up a copy of the widely available satellite-view map, and navigate to your own secret strand.

Enjoy the nightlife. On an island with some of the finest French food in the Caribbean, it makes sense to begin an evening at one of the 20 or so fashionable restaurants that line the main street in Grand Case, on the French side. Dance off those delicious sauces at a nightclub or a disco playing the music of your choice, from reggae and jazz to Euro-pop and zouk. Finish off the evening on the Dutch side in a Sint Maarten casino.

Shop in the Dutch side's commercial center, Philipsburg. One of the world's busiest duty-free ports, it's loaded with French and Italian fashions, Indonesian and Chinese fabrics, French fragrances, Swiss watches, and Dutch and Japanese electronics, leather, gold jewelry, porcelain, crystal, and liquor. Many of the same European goods can be found, also duty-free, in chic boutiques in Marigot, on the French side, where the shopping scene tends to be a little less frenetic.