Escape to St. Maarten for Less

Posted April 15, 2009 by Kate Hamman

StMaarten-Butterfly-DEF You may not be sure how to spell this Caribbean island's name, but it's plain to see that St. Maarten is more than just a spelling-bee stumper. Its dual identities of Dutch (St. Maarten) and French (St. Martin) sides combine to create an ideal vacation getaway. Come spend the day in a tropical garden surrounded by butterflies before you head to an emporium that stocks the island's favorite liqueur. And at night, sleep in a historic inn far from the hustle and bustle of city life without spending a fortune.

The Butterfly Farm: Come stand among hundreds of fluttering butterflies as you take an hourlong tour offering insight into their life cycle. You'll witness the metamorphosis from caterpillar to exotic butterfly, and have the opportunity to hold the frail insects. The morning between 9:00 and 9:30 is the best time to witness newborn butterflies taking flight.

Guavaberry Emporium: Don't leave St. Maarten without stopping at the Guavaberry Emporium, where you'll find the island's legendary folk liqueur, guavaberry rum. Sip a guavaberry colada while you browse the different liqueurs, BBQ sauces, hot sauces, chutneys, and a slew of souvenirs. Other exotic libations include mango, passion fruit, lime, and almond, all of which you can sample for free.

Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House: Located in Philipsburg, the Pasanggrahan offers a secluded escape amidst tropical gardens and sandy beaches. The colonial-style inn once served as the Governor's home and a Dutch royal residence, and is the oldest guesthouse on St. Maarten. The 30 colorful and classically decorated rooms feature antique and plantation-style furniture. The hotel also provides seaside dining, plus complimentary afternoon tea and chaise lounges for the beach. Rooms start at $98 per night.

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(Photo: Sandra Calderbank)

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