|Looking out over the beach and anchorage at Philipsburg toward Saba in the distance|
This island is interesting because it’s got a dual personality: half of the island is Dutch, and half is French. The Dutch side is duty-free, and I’ve seen it referred to as the shopping mall of the Caribbean. There are the typical duty-free shops (jewelry, gems, electronics, etc.) near the cruise ship terminal, and marine stores near the yacht basin, but also lots of other stores, such as supermarkets and the largest and nicest Ace Hardware that we’ve ever seen. Pass over to the French side, and the roads become wider, the shops quainter, the pastries more delectable, and the beaches clothing optional (Orient Beach, anyway). You can travel back and forth between the Dutch and French territories freely on the inexpensive buses, so we were able to get out and about. The island is much more built up than it was when Anne originally visited in the early 80s.