Thanks to its numerous shops, cafés and hotels, Philipsburg is one of the liveliest places on the island of Saint Martin. Giant cruise ships and luxury yachts cast anchor in the azure blue bay which was discovered in 1493 by Columbus, even though Indians already lived here. Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch part of the island and is located on the beautiful white sandy beach of Great Bay.
In the 16th century, Dutch, Spanish and French sailors and pirates from the Caribbean region were all interested in this charming island. Not only did it have protected bays, it also had a large saltpan. At that time, salt was important for preserving meat and fish on board ships. John Philips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy, founded the city of Philipsburg on the small strip of land between the sea and the saltpan in 1763.