Built by the Dutch in 1631, Fort Amsterdam was the original colonial fort built and an important vantage point in the dispute over the island by the Dutch, French, and British. Located on a peninsula on the western side of Great Bay, the fort is now decommissioned, but ruins and 19th century cannons remain. It’s also a sanctuary for nesting pelicans.
To get an up-close look at St. Maarten’s colonial history, head to the peninsula to see the ruins of the fort as well as a smattering of colonial artifacts: look for the skeleton of a Spanish soldier and canons. Travelers may explore Fort Amsterdam independently or as part of tour, such as a bike tour that might stop at other historic highlights including Philipsburg Courthouse and St. Maarten's oldest inn.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Anyone interested in St. Maarten history will appreciate Fort Amsterdam.
- Entry into the fort is free.
- Tours may include roundtrip hotel transfers, and use of equipment, and water. Check tours for specific details.
- Don’t go anywhere in St. Maarten without sun protection and swimwear; Divi Little Bay Beach is nearby.
How to Get There
Fom Philipsburg, drive west through town onto Little Bay Road, following the street through Divi Little Bay Beach Resort until it dead-ends on the peninsula. Form the cruise ship dock, expect a 10-minute drive; from Philipsburg, it’s about five minutes away.
When to Get There
The fort welcomes visitors year-round. Those looking for the lowest hotel prices should visit St. Martin/St. Maarten in spring or fall when rain is less likely. Summer is warmest, but the weather is pleasant year-round. Visit from February to June and you may see humpback whales.
Brown Pelicans Nests
Walk to the very end of the peninsula to an area designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Here, a regionally significant colony of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) nest along the slope just below the fort. The community currently has about 60 pairs of birds.