ABOUT ST. MAARTEN
Location/Size – The island is in the Caribbean Sea, 18.02 degrees North
latitude and 63.07 West longitude, 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. it covers 37 square miles, with Dutch St. Maarten on the South spanning 16 square miles and French Saint Martin on the North covering 21. The island is the smallest land mass to be shared by two separate governments. Capitals – Philipsburg on Great Bay is the capital of St. Maarten. Marigot is the capital of Saint Martin.
Nationalities – Dutch Sint Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. French Saint Martin is a commune of Guadeloupe, an overseas territory of France.
Language – English is spoken everywhere, but Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten, and French the official language of Saint Martin. On the Dutch side, you can also hear Spanish, Papiamentu, Italian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages. On the French side, Creole Patois is also spoken
Population – 45,000 people live on St. Maarten and 37,000 on Saint Martin.
Climate – Sunny and warm year-round, with some cooling from trade winds. Average temperature during the winter season is 80F (27C) and a few degrees warmer anymore humid in the summer. Occasional showers in late summer and early fall, with average annual rainfall of 45 inches.
Airlines – Princess Juliana International airport (“SXM”) provides an ultra-modern gateway to both Dutch and French St. Maarten. The airport has security to international standard and many duty free shops. Many international carriers offer non-stop service from major US and European airports to PJIA. Regional carriers offer service to the Caribbean. Ask The Business Point for assistance.
Entry Requirements – All visitors are required to carry a valid passport issued by their home country. Visas are not required for EU citizens, as well as citizens of Canada, the USA, and most Caribbean countries.
Airport Departure Tax – For International destinations, there is a tax of US$20.00 for those age 2 and up. For islands within the Netherlands Antilles, the departure tax is US$6.00.
Accommodations – Island accommodations range from large, comprehensive resort facilities and condominiums to small, intimate guest houses, timeshares and apartments. With over 4,000 rooms on the island, there is a property to suit every taste.
Dining – St. Maarten expresses its culinary soul not by creating a single cuisine, but by giving voice to cooking styles from the far-flung corners of the globe. Diners can select from more than 300 restaurants offering French, Dutch, Caribbean, Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, Creole and more.
Casinos – The island’s 12 casinos are all on the Dutch side and offer gaming in the European mode.
Local Ground Transportation – Colorful “dollar busses” are a very economical favourite of locals and visitors alike. They go most everywhere; just ask.
Taxi Service – Taxis are ready and waiting at Princess Juliana International Airport and at all major hotels. The cabs have no meters, but drivers must follow official rates for travel throughout the island. Also, hotel tour desks can arrange sightseeing tours by taxi, the only way to go for those not wanting to drive a rental car.
Car Rental – Car rentals are available at Princess Juliana airport and many other places on the island. The Business Point can arrange a car for you with a reliable provider.
Tipping – Most hotels and restaurants add between 10 percent and 15 percent
to the bill as a service charge, and this is almost always posted in writing at the entrance, on the menu, etc. Travelers can tip more for special service. Taxi drivers expect 50 cents or $1 for short runs and more for an extended narrated tour. Airport porters should receive $2 per bag.
Currency – US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted on both the Dutch and the French sides, so visitors do not need to exchange currency.
Banks – Banks on the Dutch side are normally open from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. On Saturday, some banks open from 8:30 a.m. until noon. French side banks generally are open from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on weekdays. Automatic teller machines are available at several locations throughout the island, including at a Scotia Bank immediately adjacent to The Business Point.
Time – St. Maarten is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round. During the fall and winter, noon in New York equals 1 p.m. on the island. During daylight savings time in the U.S., the hour is the same on the Eastern Seaboard as it is on the island.
Electricity – Dutch St. Maarten uses the US standard: 120 volts, 60Hz. On the French side, it’s 220 volts, 60Hz.
Radio and Television – Both sides of the island have cable or satellite television with programming in English (Mostly US Programming) and French. Island 92 (FM 91.9) is a favorite station with visitors because of its classic rock, blues, and yacht information format; they have a lot of information and contests for visitors. There are also several local stations broadcasting regional music and news.
Newspapers – The St. Maarten Daily Herald is widely read by locals, as is an international edition of The Miami Herald. Papers are widely available at shops.
Telephone and Cellular – Systems on both sides of the Island are modern and operate well, but a little “local knowledge” is helpful. Dial Dutch Sint Maarten as you would the USA: 1 + 3 digit area code +7 digits. The country code for French St. Martin is 590, followed by a 9 digit phone number. When dialing the French side from the Dutch side, dial 00590 + 9 digit number. To call the Dutch side from the French side, dial 001 721 + 7 digit number. There are several cellular telephone carriers on both sides of the island. Whatever your home cellular network, you are likely to have coverage…but watchout for those BIG roaming charges!! If you have a GSM phone, then it’s much cheaper to buy a local SIM card; you even get a temporary local number! The Business Point can supply local cell phones.
Pet Regulations – Animals are admitted temporarily to the island with the following papers: a health certificate dated no more than 10 days before visit and a record of inoculations, including a rabies shot administered no more than 30 days prior to the visit.
Marriage – Sint Maarten is a beautiful honeymoon destination. You can arrange to have your marriage at the Civil Registry Department or any location on Dutch Sint Maarten. Anyone 18 years or older may marry in St. Maarten. Several local consultants can arrange the license, ceremony, flowers, beach/church, and of course the honeymoon hotel. Email us at The Business Point and we can facilitate everything!
Medical Facilities The Dutch St. Maarten Medical Center in Cay Hill and the French Hospital in Spring (near Marigot) offer walk-in emergency facilities. Most other “medical clinics” are doctor’s offices. Dr. Tjaden and Dr. Datema adjacent to The Business Point in Simpson Bay are especially helpful to visitors (Phone +1 721 544-5312, Emergency +1 721 557-7007). The island has a wide array of well qualified specialists and dentists. Call The Business Point at +1 721 544-3315 for an up to date list of qualified medical professionals.
Religious Services – Services conducted in St. Maarten include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist, New Testament Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, Jewish and others.