In 1631, Dutch settlers arrived to St. Maarten and claimed the island, building what we now know as Fort Amsterdam between Great Bay and Little Bay. This was a great defensive position, situated at the top of cliffs, connected to the mainland, and surrounded by water on three sides; however, in 1633, the Spanish invaded and took over, using the fort as a military post until 1648. When excavated, a variety of artifacts were uncovered at Fort Amsterdam, like a Spanish officer's copper-wire uniform buttons and the skeleton of a Spanish officer who died in battle. Today, visitors can see 19th-century cannons and ruins of radio signal huts and bastions, as well as read informational signs and see a large Brown Pelican breeding area nearby. Bring your camera, as the water views are beautiful.