Following the demise of plantations and slavery in the mid 19th century, St. Martin's economy foundered until the island was granted exemption from import and export taxes in 1939. That act, along with the building of Princess Juliana Airport, raised the island's prominence as a tourist destination, and these days, folks flock to its ports for amazing, duty-free shopping in St. Martin. In fact, St. Martin shopping offers the area's only 100% duty-free locale. For those enjoying Sint Maarten shopping in Philipsburg (and especially along Front Street), jewelry is a much-sought-after commodity, and you'll encounter a wealth of gold, silver, platinum and gemstones. Upscale clothing is desirable as well, as are cosmetics, leather goods, electronics, premium cigars, liquor and artwork. Even souvenirs, especially authentic merchandise crafted in Holland, are a terrific bargain. Since there are so many options, it's a good idea to plan ahead to optimize your St. Martin shopping experience.
Senior editor Kelly Sigmon is Southern born and Ivy educated. During his tenure with the company, Kelly has prized being a mystery traveler and overseeing the printed 10Best Travel Guides for San Francisco, Miami, and Atlanta.