There is a reason why the Caribbean comes to St. Martin/Sint. Marteen to do its shopping. The selection is excellent, the prices good, and the taxes non-existent.
The French side of the island is known for its Parisian fashion. There are lots of wonderful boutiques, but my favorite is HipUp, which specializes in swimwear. The last bikini I bought here was so comfortable that I wore it until it fell apart after two years of nearly daily use. It served me so well that we gave it a burial at sea with full honors somewhere in the Indian.
The Dutch side of the island is known for the juggernaut of high-end duty free shopping available in Philipsburg. From electronics and jewelry, to perfume and clothing, everything the cruiseship passenger could want is available in Philipsburg, tax free.
Every fourth shop in Philipsburg seems to be a jewelry store with a side of liquor (or vice versa), but there is one worth seeking out - Gulmohar's on Front Street. Behind its unassuming facade lies a Disneyland for scotch enthusiasts. There is a veritable wall of Scotch. What's more, almost every variety on display is available for tasting. To be able to sample so many varieties at home or a bar would cost a small fortune, but at Gulmohar's, the samples are free and are accompanied by the owner's personal tasting notes.
We aren't Scotch drinkers, but the rum selection caught our eye. And soon we were tasting and talking rum with the very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner. We tried some interesting rums from Guyana (El Dorado 15) and Venezuela (Santa Theresa 1796 Antiguo de Solera) and left with a bottle from both St. Lucia (Admiral Rodney) and Guatemala (Ron Zacapa 23 - widely considered to be the best sipping rum in the world). If we keep buying bottles at this rate we're going to have to build a bar just to display our collection. Either that or open a tiki bar.