The lovely Caribbean island of Saint Maarten is divided between Dutch and French rule with two different currencies, languages and even an international telephone system between the two neighbours. However it provides two delightfully different cultures with the very best of French cuisine and boutiques and charming Dutch architecture on the southern side.
The community of Terres Basses is on the western side of St Maarten at the end of Simpson Bay lagoon. It is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and watersports in the clear warm waters. Surfers enjoy the strong surf at the two-mile Long Beach while Plum Bay is a more secluded local beach with no amenities. Baie Rouge, the third beach near Terres Basses holiday rentals offers views across to Anguilla. Snorkeling and diving are popular along with sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and other watersports. Fishing charters and boat trips are a great way to see dolphins and other marine life. St Maarten has several golf courses including the challenging Mullet Bay Golf Course.
For days out, head to the French town of Marigot, which has delightful duty-free shopping in boutiques and designer jewellers and a good selection of French bakeries and cafés. Philipsburg is best visited when the cruise ships are not in port as narrow Front Street can get very crowded. Once again the main shops sell clothing, perfume and jewellery making for great window shopping. Near the waterfront there is an outdoor market selling local crafts. Visit the local churches and museum in Philipsburg and enjoy a flutter at the casino.
Visitors to Terres Basses holiday rentals can enjoy the warm tropical climate that St Maarten enjoys year-round. The island has more rain showers between July and November, peaking in early September. Terres Basses has sunshine all year round with average temperatures between 78-80°F (25-26°C) in winter and 82-84°F (28-29°C) in the summer. There are refreshing sea breezes particularly during the winter months.
St Maarten has just one international airport serving Terres Basses holiday rentals. The Princess Juliana International (SXM) Airport is on the south (Dutch) side of the island. It is about 7 miles (11km) from Terres Basses and is easy to reach by taxi or hire car along Airport Road. The airport is served by many international airlines including Delta, Air Canada, Spirit and KLM. The airport runway is parallel to Simpson Bay Beach giving bathers and airplane spotters a somewhat noisy view of each arrival and departure just yards away. A hire car is not essential for enjoying a beach vacation in St Maarten but it is necessary for exploring the more remote villages and secluded beaches.