There are 4 incredible historical sites in Sint Maarten that are really worth the visit for tourists who are looking to learn about this Caribbean island’s fascinating past. Visitors can learn about the history of Saint Martin, which is featured in old plantations, former military forts, colonial architectural buildings, and hilly terrains that provide incredible panoramic views of the bays in St. Martin as well as neighboring islands such as Anguilla. The top 4 historical sites worth visiting in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Fort Louis
- Mount Vernon Plantation
- Fort Amsterdam
- Emilio Wilson Estate
Table of Contents
1. Fort Louis
Fort Louis is an 18th century former French military fort that was built during the reign of King Louis XVI of France. Fort Louis was completed in 1789 for the purpose of protecting warehouses of the Marigot harbor which stored locally produced sugarcane, coffee, rum, and salt from Dutch and British pirates.
Fort Lous has deteriorated over the years, there have been efforts made to restore it in the 19th century. The remains of Fort Louis are situated on a hill in the French capital of Marigot overlooking the Marigot harbor as well as other places such as Nettle Bay, Simpson Bay, Galisbay, and Anguilla.
Fort Louis has a 4 out of 5-star online rating and access to Fort Louis is open to the public at no cost. Fort Louis is situated within less than 3 miles (5 km) of some of Marigot’s finest restaurants such as La Terrasse Rooftop Restaurant, Chez Coco Restaurant, and O’ Plongeoir Restaurant. The nearest hotel within less than 10 minutes walking distance from Fort Louis is Le Centr’Hotel.
Tourists can reach Fort Louis by going past the Catholic church and government office located in the town of Marigot, they will find concrete stairs and a railing at the entrance of Fort Louis. Tourists can then take a short hike up the stairs to reach the top of the fort and see the lovely views.
2. The Mount Vernon Plantation
The Mount Vernon Plantation is a plantation in St. Martin that was originally established in the 18th century for growing corn, sugar, tobacco, coffee, cotton, and spices that were exported to Europe. The Mount Vernon Plantation was first set up in 1786 and has been carefully preserved throughout the years under different owners from Britain, St. Barts, the USA, and St. Martin.
The Mount Vernon Plantation continued to produce a variety of Saint Martin’s native plants as well as the popular local coffees and rums, over the years. The property on Mount Vernon Plantation includes a unique house that has been restored called the Maison de Maitre (Master’s house), this historical site is surrounded by tropical fruit trees. The Mount Vernon Plantation opened for tourists in 2005, tourists are able to take the tour using a self-guided tape player to explore the property and learn about its history.
The Mount Vernon Plantation was greatly impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has since then not been re-opened to the public due to pending renovations. The Mount Vernon Plantation is currently under the ownership of a local authority in St. Martin and the future plans for this historic site are to establish a botanical garden that features cultural and historical content for tourists who wish to explore the site.
The Mount Vernon Plantation is situated near Orient Bay on the French side of St. Martin. Some of the restaurants that are near The Mount Vernon Plantation are Le Piment Restaurant, L’ Atsrolabe Restaurant, and Chez Leandra Restaurant. Some of the hotels that are near Mount Vernon Plantation are La Playa Orient Bay Hotel and Hotel La Plantation.
Tourists can reach the Mount Vernon Plantation by driving through Route Cul de Sac which branches off from airport road near L’Espérance Airport in Grand Case, St. Martin.
3. Fort Amsterdam
Fort Amsterdam is a military fort that was built by the Dutch during the colonial era in efforts to protect Sint Maarten from competitive colonial forces such as the Spanish and British armies. The Dutch colonial Fort Amsterdam was built in 1631 and ultimately invaded by Spaniard forces who held onto the fort for at least 15 years before retreating from Sint Maarten in 1648.
The architecture of Fort Amsterdam is reminiscent of Spanish influence as a result of some of the expansion works made on the fort by the Spanish forces. The unique blend of Dutch and Spanish designs makes it a captivating historical monument for visitors. The site of Fort Amsterdam also features rusting cannons from the 19th century as well as signs and informational maps that highlight the history of the fort and its development over the years.
Fort Amsterdam has a 4.2 out of 5-star online rating. This historical fort is mostly decayed ruins that are situated near Little Bay, Great Bay, and the Dutch capital of St. Maarten called Philipsburg. Access to Fort Amsterdam is free of charge. Some of the restaurants that are situated near Fort Amsterdam are Pureocean Beachside Dining and The Shack at Pure Ocean Divi Little Bay. Some of the hotels near Fort Amsterdam are Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Belair Beach Hotel.
Tourists can reach Fort Amsterdam by driving through Little Bay Road which travels along Great Bay on the southern coast of St. Maarten and taking a hike up to the fort from Little Divi Bay, which is a resort in Little Bay.
4. The Emilio Wilson Estate
The Emilio Wilson Estate is a historical site in St. Maarten that was formerly a sugar plantation. The Emilio Wilson Estate also served as a home to the first governor of Sint Maarten whose name was John Philips. The estate was eventually purchased by Emilio Wilson, a resident of St. Maarten whom the property is named after.
The Emilio Wilson Estate is important to the people of St. Maarten as it represents the ancestry of the former slaves that worked on the plantation. The former owner Emilio Wilson ensured that the ruins that portray the history of Sint Maarten’s ancestry were carefully preserved and that there were no buildings developed on the estate to disturb its natural heritage. A historical, cultural, educational, and recreational park was established on the estate which was in line with Emilio Wilson’s vision for the land to be kept in its original state.
The Emilio Wilson Estate features antique colonial rock walls, historical artifacts, and caves that served as shelters during the hurricanes in St. Maarten. The estate is situated in the Dutch Cul de Sac valley which was also home to many former 18th and 19th-century sugar plantations. Some of the restaurants near Emilio Wilson Estate are Emilio’s Dine with History Restaurant, Bob’s Deli Restaurant, and Marks Place. Some of the hotels near The Emilio Wilson’s Estate are The Paradise Inn and L’Esperance Hotel.
Tourists can reach The Emilio Wilson Estate by driving through the western side of the L.B Scott Road that runs through Cul de Sac Valley in Dutch St. Maarten to a locality called St. Peters. The Emilio Wilson Estate is located at least 853 ft (260 m) to the west of L.B Scott Road.
What is the best month to visit the historical sites in Sint Maarten?
The best month to visit the historical sites in Sint Maarten is March.
What are some things to do at the historical sites in Sint Maarten?
Visitors who are looking for things to do at historical sites in Sint Maarten may wonder about their options for fun activities. Taking a tour of historical sites is one of the top things to do in Saint Martin and these tours offer more opportunities for other activities. Some of the things to do at historical sites in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Hiking up the hills in St. Martin that feature historical sites and offer breathtaking panoramic views of the island.
- Shopping for souvenirs at the gift shops located at some of the historical sites in St. Maarten.
- Eating at the local Caribbean restaurants and lolos.
- Visiting a nearby beach for some sunbathing or water activity such as snorkeling or kayaking.
- Tasting some of St. Martin’s local rum and finest wines.
What should you bring when going to the historical sites in Sint Maarten?
Some of the things to bring when going to historical sites in Sint Maarten are comfortable hiking-friendly shoes, a camera, a bottle of water, sunglasses, and a hat for hot sunny days.
Do you need to book in advance to visit the historical sites in Sint Maarten?
No, you do not need to book in advance to visit the historical sites in Sint Maarten. Most of the historical sites in Sint Maarten are open to the public 24/7 with free access.
Do the historical Sites in Sint Maarten have Wi-Fi?
No, the historical sites in Sint Maarten do not have Wi-Fi.
Are there souvenir shops in Sint Maarten?
Yes, there are souvenir shops in Sint Maarten. Some of the best St. Maarten souvenirs can be found in gift shops and local markets around the island. Some of the best souvenir shops in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Shipwreck Shop: A souvenir store in Philipsburg which has a 4.3 out of 5-star online rating.
- Art + Design SXM: A gift shop situated in Marigot, Saint Martin which has a 3.8 out of 5-star online rating.
- Tijon: A custom perfume gift shop in Grand Case which has a 5 out of 5-star online rating.
- Good Cards: A gift shop in Simpson Bay which has a 5 out of 5-star online rating.