General St Maarten Information - Get the facts first...
With a total population of 85 000, St Maarten is the second most northerly Island on the eastern Caribbean chain of Islands. Its coordinates are 18 degrees north and 63 degrees west, and forms part of the Leward Islands/ Lesser Antilles.
The entire land mass of 37 square miles is divided between the Dutch and French of 16 and 21 square miles respectively.
Its terrain is hilly with limestone exteriors and a heavy volcanic interior. The air is constantly flushed by the north east trade winds.
Getting to St Maarten should be no problem at all. The Dutch side of St Maarten boasts an international airport providing numerous flights and servicing many major airlines such as AA, US Air, Air Canada, Air Transat, KLM, Northwest, Continental and Air France.
In addition, St Maarten has a state of the art Cruise facility catering to over 1.4 million cruise passengers a year. Most cruises to the Island originate in Florida.
Flights from the US are easily accessible from all along the Atlantic coast of the US and many convenient connections throughout the rest of the country.
When visiting St Martin/St Maarten, visitors MUST be in possession of a valid passport. Citizens of countries who might require an entry visa are responsible for obtaining the necessary documents before arrival.Tourists must be in possession of a return or continuing ticket out of the island.
If you are unsure of wheather you'll need a visa for entry to St Maarten please see Visa Requirements.
Passage between both sides of the Island is allowed through the two border lines. It is a good Idea to travel with your documents at all times regardless of the side that you're staying on. It is advised though that when planning excursions to the other neighboring islands that entry and reentry is permitted back to the shores.
St Maarten/St Martin remains on a year round eastern standard time. There is no day light saving switch.
Dutch is the official language on St Maarten
French is the official language on St Martin
English is extensively spoken and can be considered the tongue of choice.
However, there is a host of other languages spoken on the Island. With over 140 different nationalities one can imagine the diversity.
Here are a dominant few: Papiamento, Spanish, French Creole, Hindi, Italian and Chinese.
In addition to these there are tons of variations of English dialect.
Dutch side: The Antillean Guilder "NAF" French side: The Euro "EURO"
Although the above are the official currencies on the Island, the US dollar is extensively used on both sides. All major credit cards and traveler’s checques are accepted. ATM's are available throughout the Island.
Like most other Caribbean Islands, St Maarten/St Martin boasts an average yearly temperature of 84 degrees F and an average rain fall of 45 inches.
Showers generally last about 10 minutes at a time. During the late summer months an increase of showers is evident. Hurricane season runs from June 01 until Nov 30.
Shared holidays on both sides - (C) dates change, check your local calendar
New Years Day January 01 Good Friday - (c) March or April Easter Sunday - (c) March or April Easter Monday - (c) March or April Ascension Day - (c) May Labor Day - May 01 St Martin's Day - November 11 Christmas Day - December 25 Boxing Day - December 26
French side holidays VE Day - May 08 National Bastille Day - July 14 Schoelcher Day - July 21 All Saints Day - November 01
Dutch Side holidays Queens Birthday - April 30 Public Holiday - May 02 Antillean Day - October 21
LEAVING THE ISLAND
Leaving any vacation destination can be confusing and laborious task with out the necessary information. Here are a few tips for first time visitors and repeats alike, which will get you off on the right foot when leaving St Maarten.
I suppose the most important thing would be getting to the airport on time.
It is a good idea for those staying beyond the Simpson's Bay Bridge in the direction of Philipsburg to plan that day as though there was no spare time.
Some continuing flights will connect through San Juan PR and warrants a very early check in time. This is considered relatively simple in terms of traffic.
However, the bulk of departing flights occur after midday. Your entire vacation can turn into a nightmare if your knowledge of the bridge opening times and prediction of the traffic density is obscured.
Check in at your earliest possible check in time. If it's several hours before the flight, GREAT. Have lunch with the kids. Relax and read a book or have a drink.
Traffic is more dense in the high season than it is in the low.
High season - Dec 15 to Apr - 14
Low Season April - 15 to Dec - 14
Your taxi guy will have the best knowledge of bridge opening times and when's the best time for your pick up. That's provided you're not driving.
If you are, you should use the Bridge schedule above.
Departure tax international - $30
Departure tax domestic - $10 (between the islands of the Netherlands Antilles)
Customs allowances vary from country to country. St Maarten is big on jewelry and liquor shopping. Check with your local customs officials before you leave home for the details.
We hope you've enjoyed your stay on St Maarten. Please send us an email and let us know.