Island Information for Caribbean Vacation - Fact & Figures St Maarten-St Martin - SXM - Island from A-Z - Info Sint Maarten - Saint Maarten - Travel and Tourist Info for Dutch Caribbean and French Caribbean
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Info St Maarten - St Martin - Dutch & French Caribbean
Vacation on St. Maarten-St. Martin Good to know where to go!
Facts and Figures of the "Friendly Island"
Island Information for Visitors
The island is an explorer´s paradise, but even adventurous vacationers can take advantage of some assistance. On this page, you will find a few essentials to help you ease comfortably into life on Sint Maarten or Saint Martin. Plenty of useful tourist information is here to make your vacation an unforgettable one. So, have fun and enjoy!
The island is blessed with having all ingredients discerning travelers look for on a Caribbean vacation: a lot of sun, fabulous beaches, including nude beaches azur turquoise waters, watersports, duty free shopping, banks & ATM machines, excellent restaurants, attractions, casinos and a vibrant nightlife.
The main airport is Princess Juliana International Airport (code SXM), on the 'Dutch' side of the island. It has direct flights to/from cities in Europe, USA and Canada. The airport position is at Longitude 63.1W and Latitude 18.3 N.
The modern airport terminal inaugurated in 2006 was partially destroyed by hurricane Irma in 2017 and is still under restoration. However, the SXM airport remains the major hub in the Caribbean. More info at airport website.
Photo shows development Phase II by Airport Authorities.
Airport Flight Information: (721) 545-5757
Airport Information Desk: (721) 545-4211
The small airport of "Esperance" is located in Grand Case on the French side, code SFG, for inter island connections with Air Caraïbes, Air Antilles and others, serving mainly Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barth's, and Santo Domingo (DR).
InternationalAirlines serving Sint Maarten (SXM): From USA: American Airlines,
Delta, JetBlue, and Spirit From Canada: Air Canada,
WestJet, Air Transat (charter) From France: Air France (daily), TUIFly (Corsair), Air Caraibes From Holland: KLM (now in conjunction with Air France)
For a detailed list of airlines flying to SXM and destinations!
The island has only a few large hotels mainly in 'Dutch' St. Maarten plus plenty of condos and timeshares. Many rental villas and apartments are available in French St. Martin.
Great choice of villas at Orient Bay, Happy Bay, Dawn Beach, and other beaches. Most rental bookings through owners or local agents, see here.
Babysitters are offered only by a few individual service providers, which come and go. Best is to contact your accommodation provider for a babysitter.
Banks on St. Martin and St. Maarten are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 3pm on both, the French and the 'Dutch' side. You will find Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's) at most of the banks, and elsewhere. ATM' s usually accept Visa, MasterCard, and Cirrus. The 'Dutch' side ATM's usually dispense US-$, the French ATM's Euros.
There are over 30 beautiful white sandy beaches on St. Maarten and St. Martin. The French beaches reflect a more liberal attitude with some being topless or nude beaches. The 'Dutch' side has some topless beaches, and one nude beach at Cupecoy.
Click on photos for description & pictures of beaches!
The Border between the French side and the former Dutch side is marked by a few signs along the road saying "Bienvenue dans la partie Francaise" (Welcome to the French Side), and "Welcome to Sint Maarten". Otherwise, the border is invisible, and only marked on maps.
Boats can be rented with skipper, difficult to get without captain, more on the expensive side. See more under Activities.
Yes, there is the rumor of about 8 on the 'Dutch' side of the island, mostly called "Club ...". In addition, there are some suspicious bars, which also cater to a similar audience. Keep in mind, HIV is an issue!
The Capital of former Dutch Sint Maarten is Philipsburg, and the Capital of French Saint Martin is Marigot.
There are several digital cell phone systems in place. All work with GSM phones only, e.g. UTS on the 'Dutch' side. The French side has GSM services through Orange (France Telecom) and Amigo (Dauphin). You need a triband GSM phone and a SIM card for using these services. A SIM card costs about $20+ depending on provider and needed talk time. Many shops, supermarkets and gas stations sell pre-paid phone cards for the 'Dutch' side providers. You can also get ready for your trip before arrival with specialized SIM card providers, e.g. Queen of SXM. All networks cover both sides of the island. More on calling, here!
Cell phone Rentals
As most US-phones (TDMA) are not compatible with the worldwide
GSM standard, we recommend to rent a phone or buy a cheap GSM-phone before arrival. An excellent place for renting is at Sharon - click on . Another provider of rental cell phones is
St Maarten/St Martin has a great variety of landscape including the mountain of Pic Paradis (424m/1400 ft). It benefits from a typical tropical climate, predominantly dry with average temperatures of 80F or 27C. Sun and trade winds year round. Actual Temperature, see here.
There are a several clothing optional or nude beaches on the island. The most well known is Orient Bay, especially at its section of their famous "Club Orient", see also under "Nude Beaches"
Although the official currency of 'Dutch' St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles Florin (NAF, or guilder), most shops are set up to charge in USD. The Euro (€) is the official currency for French St. Martin.
One US dollar equals approx. $1.80 NAF (Sept. 2017). The exchange rate Euro to US-$ moves up and down, according to the daily official exchange rate. US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere including the French side. Exchange booths are available, dealing in the major currencies. US traveler checks as well as most major credit cards are widely accepted. A good currency converter is here.
Traffic is on the right with international signs on St. Martin and St. Maarten. Foreign and international driver licenses are accepted when renting a vehicle. Patience and a sense of humor are helpful while driving on island: natives often take time to stop and greet a friend, or to drop off or pick up passengers or deliveries. So, be aware of frequent stopping. It is common to use the horn or high beams to greet or thank another driver for the right of way. Be aware of radar speed controls on the French side!
US-$ 30.00 departure tax is included in most airline ticket prices. Same is true for the airport facility tax. If not included in your ticket price, you'll have to pay at your airline counter at the airport and the departure tax at an airport office. If you travel from St. Maarten to another island in the Netherlands Antilles, there is also a departure tax to pay in cash, unless already included in your local airline ticket. There is no departure tax from the French airport of Esperance (SFG) in Grand Case!
Approaching SXM airport on Maho Beach
Yes, it´s true. The island enjoys Duty Free and Tax Free Status, see our Shopping section. Especially low are prices for liquor and cigarettes. Electronics and jewelry require some bargaining capabilities for truly lower prices.
Food deliveries (groceries) is offered by below specialists, and by Yacht provisioning services.
Shop N Drop Grocery delivers your groceries to your vacation rental or resort. Save valuable vacation time.
Tom Express, a French side company also provides a delivery service:
'Dutch' Sint Maarten runs on 120 Volt, 60 cycles (American outlets). French Saint Martin runs on 220 volts, 60 (!) cycles (French or European outlets). Most hotels and vacation properties have converters available, if needed. Some frequency sensitive equipment for 220V/50hz (European standard) does not run well with the unusual 60 hz frequency.
When entering the country you will need a valid passport. NOTE: US citizens need a passport to re-enter the USA! Some nationals who are not part of North America or the European Union will need a visa. For those traveling with animals, health certificates are required.
Gas or petrol stations are found all over the island. Prices are presently (11/2016) around $0.90/liter = $3.40/gallon on St. Maarten.
Prices depend on island side (French or 'Dutch'). Some stations on the French side charge around Euro 0.8/Ltr. = Euro 3.00/gallon. The 'Dutch' side gas prices are fixed by Gov't!
Despite a mixed reputation due to a widely published incident in 2006, the island is considered friendly to other lifestyles.
the island is 37 square miles, of which the French side is 21 square miles. The French part has approx. 35,000 inhabitants. The 'Dutch' side is 16 square miles, populated by approx. 40,000 people. To the East of St. Maarten/St. Martin lies the Atlantic Ocean, to the West the Caribbean Sea. The island lies at the crossroads of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, approximately 144 miles/300 km Southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is mostly volcanic. There are several mountains with the tallest being Pic Paradis (424 m/1400 ft) on the French side. St Maarten was never an island with lush vegetation, which is due to a lack of rain and rivers. However, the island enjoys of an abundance of beautiful white beaches.
Both the 'Dutch' and French side are self governed by democratic institutions. French St. Martin as being a "Collectivité Territoriale", is member of the European Union (EU). The Dutch part is NOT member of the EU! It has a strong relation to the other Dutch Antilles islands (ABC-Isles), and is now independent, but still a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands..
The hospital on 'Dutch' St. Maarten, SMMC, (The Medical Center) can be contacted at (721) 522-300 or (721) 543-111 or see website:
On the French side, there is the Marigot Hospital located in Concordia, (590) 590 295-757.
The following are national holidays on the island: New Year's Day January 1, Epiphany Jan. 6 (French side), Carnival early February (French side) and in late April ('Dutch' side), Good Friday & Easter Monday April, Labor Day May 1, Ascension Day early May, Bastille Day July 14 (French side), Schoelcher Day July 21 (French side). Assumption Day August 15, All Saints Day November 1. Concordia Day & St Martin Day November 11. Kingdom Day on Dec. 15 ('Dutch' side), Christmas Day & Boxing Day December 25 & 26.
Wireless Internet access, i.e. Hotspots, are available, but not well documented. These hotspots are mainly in the Simpson Bay area, in the marinas and at SXM airport. See here for the main provider of hotspots (Caribserve) or check our section on Wifi Access .
Tourist information can be obtained at the Tourism Offices. 'Dutch' side: Vineyard Building, W.G. Buncamper Rd, Philipsburg
French side: Route de Sandy Ground, Marigot, opposite the cemetery
Internet access is available in several Internet Cafés on both sides of the island. Most of those Cybercafés are offices (not cafés!) with scheduled opening hours on weekdays only. In addition, several restaurants and bars offer free WiFi access. See more in restaurant section.
It is a good way to learn more about the friendly island and to get an understanding of the unique situation with two countries 'tied' together.
The island enjoys the reputation as a shopper´s paradise (remember, it´s all duty free!), which is also true for jewelry. You will find a fantastic selection of fine jewelry, loose diamonds, an other precious gem stone mainly in the boutiques and Shopping areas of Philipsburg and Marigot.
Yes, definitely, you can rent Jeeps, and it makes sense due to the bumpy roads! Click forCar Rental page.
Jet Skis: are available, e.g. on Orient Bay and at Divi Resort on Little Bay. For more info, go to our Activities page.
Jet Blast is the favorite challenge at the starting point of the runway at the major airport (SXM). Jets get into starting position, and people hang on to the fence right behind, and get sand blasted. Only for risk ignorants!
Kids & Kites
You can bring both of them along with you to St Maarten or St Martin! There´s lots to do and to see for kids, such as visiting the Zoo or going to a family beach. Some beaches, e.g. Le Galion on the French side, are ideal for preschool kids due to their shallow calm waters.
There is also Kitesurfing on the island. See our activity section.
The official language of St. Maarten is Dutch, while the language of St. Martin is French. English is widely spoken, especially on the 'Dutch' side. Spanish is often spoken, too. You also hear Papiamento, the language of the so-called Dutch ABC-islands, or Creole, widely spoken by the large Haitian community.
The island is located at 18N, 63W or 144 miles/300km Southeast of Puerto Rico. It is located in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies, or right in the center of the Northern Caribbean islands.
Lolo's: Small open air food places or roadside stands for snacks. The most famous one is "Johnny under the Tree" in Cole Bay, and the Lolo's in Grand Case.
See ourmap page for some useful material. Our map guided video island tour does provide additional orientation. For vacation rentals see the map for villa locations!
Several choices are available, which change frequently. Consult your hotel or villa rental agent. Some massage resources are Patrick Bourgarel on Orient Bay (590) 690-619-000, or click for email: . Or Tricia at (590) 690-500-860, or click for email: or Website:
On the 'Dutch' side, you will find the modern movie center "Megaplex" at Simpson Bay with 7 showrooms featuring contemporary US movies in English.
There are currently two museums on the island. One is on the 'Dutch' side and holds the Sint Maarten Museum, open from 10am to 4pm Monday-Friday, and from 10am to 12 pm on Saturday. It's off Front Street at Speetjens Arcade. The French "On the trail of the Arawaks" Museum reopened recently at a new location in Marigot.
There are over a dozen of Casinos where you can gamble Black Jack, Roulette, Poker, Craps, Baccarat and Hot Slots. The casinos are all located on the'Dutch side of the island, mainly in Philipsburg, Maho, Cupecoy and Simpson Bay. In the same areas, you will also find bars, night clubs, discotheques and adult entertainment. On the French side, Casinos are not allowed by law. Here a few of the most popular bars, discotheques, entertainment and live music venues: The Red Piano in Maho, Bada Bing in Simpson Bay, Axum Art & Jazz Cafe and Bar on Front Street 7, Philipsburg.
The island has a liberal lifestyle, and nudity is accepted at some beaches, Naturists represent a small minority on beaches. It is not accepted in the general public.
While getting around, try to avoid the following bridge opening hours, as they usually cause long waiting times and traffic jams:
Simpson Bay Bridge ('Dutch' side) from Dec. to April: 9am, 9:30am, 11am, 11:30am, 4:30pm and 5:30pm, Monday-Sunday Sandy Ground Bridge (French side): 8:15am, 2:30pm,
Sundays and Holidays: 8:15am and 5:30pm.
For police on the 'Dutch' side, call 111 for Police, 130 for an Ambulance, and 911 for an Emergency. 'Dutch' side police forces have reputation for limited response. The French police can be reached for emergencies by calling 17 from the French side. Police presence is better on French side.
The estimated population of 'Dutch' St. Maarten is 45,000, and 40,000 for French St. Martin. The "Friendly Island" is recognized as the smallest piece of land shared by two countries.
The island has a well developed network of mini-buses, primarily used by the local workforce as an inexpensive way to get around. Keep in mind that these buses frequent the main business and commercial areas of the island such as Philipsburg, Cole Bay, Marigot and Grand Case. Typical tourist destinations such as beaches are not served!
Just in case if you run into a sign on the French side with that unpronounceable name: it´s simply a hardware store!
Several island radio stations can be listened to by copying their web address for their streaming server into your favorite MP3 player. Click:
Car rentals are available from many major international agencies, and local agents at reasonable rates. For more information on renting a vehicle, click here.
Sandy, shallow beaches are on St. Martin as well. Best shallow beaches: Le Galion and Pinel Island. Ideal for taking toddlers!
Shopping is duty free and partially tax free. Best choice in Philipsburg at Front- and Backstreet. Additionally, Marigot in the French side offers an attractive street market and boutiques.
SXMis the international airport code for Princess Juliana International Airport on 'Dutch' Sint Maarten. Often also used as a general abbreviation for the island of Sint Maarten.
SFG is the international airport code for the small inter-island airport "Esperance" in Grand Case on the French island side.
Grand Case (SFG) airport - artist rendition
A comfortable way to tour the island. Most of them are air-conditioned. Taxis are not metered, but are required to display a list of fares. Rates are set by the government.
Charges are based upon two passengers and on the destination. Additional passengers cost extra. Both, 'Dutch' and French Taxis pick up and drop off anywhere on the island, regardless which side you travel. Make sure to ask the driver the fare in advance. Taxi booths are located at the airports of Princess Juliana and Grand Case, at the port in Marigot (next to the Tourism Office), and in Philipsburg on Wathey Square and the Cruise Ship Pier. Taxi Hotline: # 9247 or (721) 543-7814
Now, that´s a pretty challenging procedure due to the fact that two countries share the island! Calling within "your side" is easy: on the 'Dutch' side dial the 7 digits starting with 5. On the French side dial the 10 digits starting with 0590 (fix) or 0690 (cell phones). If you want to call from one side to the other, you have to dial the full international code, which requires the following: To call from the 'Dutch' to the French side:
dial 00590 + 590 + six digits local number (fix line)
dial 00590 + 690 + six digits local number (cell phone) To call from the French to the 'Dutch' side :
dial 001-721 + seven digits local number To call the US from the 'Dutch' side:
dial 1 + area code + phone number To call the US from the French side:
dial 001 + area code + phone number To call from the US to 'Dutch' St. Maarten:
dial 1 + 721 + local number (7 digits) To call from the US to French St. Martin:
dial 011 + 590 + 590 + six digit local number
dial 011 + 590 + 690 + six digit local cell number
For many people, the French phone numbers are very confusing, which is basically due to the fact that the country code 590 is the same as the first part of fix phone numbers. You end up with dialing, correctly, twice 590 590!
Prepaid calling cards are available at several locations on both sides, e.g. InterCard at Dauphin Telecom in Marigot. More on mobile phone communication under C for Cellular Phones
St. Martin and St. Maarten are in the Atlantic Time zone, which is -4 hours from Universal Time UTC (GST). During the winter +1 hour from Eastern Standard Time, in summer on same as EST. -5 hours from Paris or Frankfurt in winter, and -6 hours in the summer.
St. Martin (French side) at route de Sandy Ground in Marigot
St. Maarten ('Dutch' side) at Vineyard Office Park, WG Buncamper Rd.
Umbrellas and beach chairs
You´ll definitely need them on some beaches! Several beaches on the island are not serviced. If you'd like to travel light, book your umbrellas and beach stuff in advance at , or simply buy a cheap one when you are here, e.g. at Cost-U-less.
Beach chairs at Orient Beach can have a wide range of price tags. Some are free, if you consume something with the linked restaurant. See more here or here.
Especially Asian Cuisine in the Philipsburg and Simpson Bay area feature a broad selection of vegetarian meals. See our Restaurant section !
Explore theisland on a map-guided video tour! Click
Tap Water on St. Maarten is processed by a desalination plant on the island, or from individual water tank systems. Bottled water is available from international brands such as Evian, Volvic, Pellegrino or Perrier. Save water, it is very precious on the island!
Watertaxi (Simpson Bay)
Several boat operators offer water taxi services, for example here, to the islands of Anguilla and to St. Barth. The cost is significantly higher than the regular ferry services to the neighboring islands.
WiFi - Wireless Internet Access
Some areas of 'Dutch' St. Maarten have wireless coverage for Internet access. There are several WiFi Hotspots at bars and cafés at the boardwalk of Philipsburg, at Oyster Pond, at Orient Beach, and in the Maho area. The PJIAE airport facilities have charged WiFi (in the departure area).
In the area of Simpson Bay and the airport are several night clubs with some of them featuring adult entertainment.
'The Platinum Room', 'Golden Eyes', and Bada Bing offer adult entertainment.
Girls at 'The Platinum Room'
Besides Simpson Bay, Marigot-Marina Royale and Anse Marcel, it seems that Oyster Pond is becoming more and more popular for mooring yachts and boats, because of its safe shelters and lower fees and taxes. More on boat rental can be found on the activities page under "boat trips".
St. Maarten Zoo closed down in September 2017 due to destruction by hurricane Irma.
Click for the map guided video tour of the island!
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