St. Martin/St. Maarten Travel Guide
The luxurious island of St Martin shares two distinct countries on one; Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. Merging the requirements of both sides, this travel guide details everything you need to know for your vacation here.
About Sint Maarten & Saint Martin: According to legend, in 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honor, Columbus named the island San Martin. On March 23, 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two nations, with the signing of the Treaty of Concordia. Saint Martin is the French side, Sint Maarten, the Dutch.
There are currently approximately 75 000 living on the island. An average of 1,000,000 tourists visit this island per year. Each side has its own claim to fame. However, hundreds of incredible restaurants lie on each side of the border. Shopping on the island offers many duty-free goods for tourists. Shoppers are mainly attracted to arts, crafts, jewelry, and designer goods that are up to 40% cheaper than the USA.
There are no border patrols between the Dutch and French sides.
St. Martin has an average temperature between 22to 30C (72to 86F) along the beach. The hurricane season is from the end of June to November 1. Rain tends to last for short periods of time, not all day. The warm coastal water temperatures stay between 20and 23C (68and 74F).
Sint Maarten: O Sweet Saint-Martin's Land
Saint Martin: La Marseillaise
Capital: Saint Martin: Marigot and Sint Maarten: Philipsburg
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time Zone (year round)
Languages: Sint Maarten: English, some Creole Saint Martin: French
Dutch side has 110v electricity (North American)
Most of the French side has 220v electricity (European)
Credit Cards: Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. American Express is somewhat accepted, and Discovery is rarely accepted
Travelers Checks: Traveler checks are not accepted widely. You may be able to cash them at a bank
Side of Road to Drive on: Right
Legal Drinking Age: 18 to consume alcohol
: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS
Upon entering be sure to show customs officials your return ticket and/or proof of sufficient income.
Lone Parents and/or Minors:
Bring a notarized letter indicating the parent(s) have authorized the trip. Also provide the child's valid passport that does not expire for a minimum of 6 months from the date of your departure.
- A passport (valid for 3 months after your entry).
- Citizens of the USA, Canada, Commonwealth and EU countries do not require a visa. All other countries please check with your local France Embassy or with your travel organizer as to whether a visa is needed.
- If travelling with a pet; bring a health certificate and proof of rabies
vaccination. The health certificate must have been dated within thirty days
prior to your departure date. You are also required to provide an
attestation that the pet is free from ECTO and ENDO parasites (or a
- Be sure to verify your pets food contents as some of the ingredients may not be admissible.
: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION
- Be sure to declare and bring receipts for all valuable personal belongings (ie. laptop, watch, etc.) or you could have to pay taxes on it when you leave.
- You are allowed to bring clothing and personal products for your stay.
Jewelry, binoculars, cameras, sports requisites, portable typewriters,
toys, medicines, laptops and toiletries are allowed for personal use
- A return or ongoing ticket is required.
- Those of drinking age and older can enter with 2 litres of alcohol.
- Those of smoking age can bring a carton of cigarettes of 25 cigars.
- You may bring implements, instruments and tools of profession, trade, occupation or employment.
- Narcotics, spear fishing equipment, arms and ammunition are all restricted.
- Licensed firearms must be declared and are subject to immigration and police regulations. An application must be made to the Commissioner of Police for a local licence. Undeclared and unlicensed firearms will be seized by the authorities.
- You should verify allowable items to return to your own country with
customs regulations (available at the information desk at your port of
- Always have all receipts handy for your countries custom officials.
Prohibited items include:
Uncanned food and derivatives;
Earth, plants, flowers, etc.
Arms & Ammunition
: : SALES TAX AND FEES
There is no sales tax in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten
- Airport taxes are almost always included in your airfare. Verify with
your airline before booking
- A departure tax is charged for all international departures from Juliana Airport (Sint Maarten) and by sea, approximately $30 USD. There are no departure taxes from Espérance Airport.
This tax is exempt for:
children under the age of 2;
diplomats (except Ecuador);
transit passengers complying with TWOV conditions;
airline crew travelers
: : MEDICAL INFORMATION
As in many other areas of the Caribbean and Latin America, travelers are advised to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves against water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases by using mosquito repellent (DEET), and avoiding swampy or low lying areas where mosquitoes are more prevalent. Using physical barriers such as mosquito nets and long sleeved shirts is also recommended.In St. Martin and Sint Maarten Dengue fever is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquitoes. It can cause flu-like symptoms and in some cases lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. Travelers should protect themselves from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Bringing in Prescription Drugs:
-Prescription drugs are allowed. You must have a doctor's prescription or note indicating that the medicine is needed, the patient's name, and the medication(s) name.
- No vaccination is required unless arriving from an epidemic area.
- Visit a local medical travel clinic 4 – 6 weeks before departure if you require any vaccinations.
The following vaccinations are recommended:
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
-Doctors and hospitals usually require immediate payment for their services.
Centre Hospitalier Louis Constant Fleming
Rue du Soleil Levant, Marigot, Guadeloupe
Tel: + 590 590 52-2525
Bequia District Hospital
30 Welgelegen Road - Cay Hill Sint Maarten
Tel.: +599 543 1111
Emergency Contact No.:
Sint Maarten (Dutch Side)
Saint Martin (French Side)
Ambulance 29 0404
Fire 87 5008
Hospital 29 5757
Police 87 5010
: : CRIME
Petty crime occurs. Avoid unpopulated areas and unpatrolled beaches after dark. Check with local authorities to determine which beaches are safe.
If arrested you must immediately notify them of the country you are from and request they contact your embassy. The local authorities are obliged to contact your embassy or consulate by international law. While in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten you are subject to their legislation, penalties, and judiciary methods.If you have a criminal offense from your own country and would like to visit here it is at their discretion to allow you in. It is unlikely to cause a problem as long as you are not wanted for a crime and have all ready served your sentence. If you have been accused of something, but have not gone to trial, and do not have a travel ban you should also be fine for travel. If traveling through or over the United States of America and you have any type of criminal record it is up to the US if they will allow you through or over their country. If worried, you should contact the local immigration offices of the countries that affect your travel and verify before booking a ticket.
: : TRANSPORTATION
Your driver's license is valid if from USA, Canada, Commonwealth and EU. Otherwise obtain an International Driver's License from your own country before departure.
- It is highly recommended to have rental car insurance.
- Be sure to read your insurance information, as there may be deductibles and other things you are not covered for. This is highly recommended for every tourist renting a car in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten.
- In order to rent a car here you must have a valid driver's license from
your own country (or if indicated above an international driver's license),
a working credit card, and be a minimum of 25 years old. If under the age
of 25 you may be able to rent a car, however you should contact the company
to enquire and reserve ahead.
- It is recommended to book a rental car ahead for better prices.
- Cars, SUVs, Vans, and Scooters are generally available.
- Always verify someone will be available at your time of arrival so you may get your vehicle immediately.
- Even with insurance you may be liable for a deductible. Be sure to verify the insurance terms.
- As with all car rentals inspect the car before driving away. Make notes (take pictures if possible) of any scratches, dings, etc while in the presence of the car rental worker. It is preferable to have the car rental worker sign something attesting to the condition of the car.
- Taxis are readily available throughout on both sides of the island.
- In Sint Maarten, the Dutch side you can dial 147 to reach the taxi association dispatch. On the French side you can dial 590-87-56-54
- Taxi rates are fixed, and all legitimate drivers should have a copy of the government issued rates
- Fees are based on two people. Extra persons cost approximately $4 USD each, and each piece of baggage is an extra $1 USD
There is no specific public transit. Mini vans are used, however there are no specific stops or schedule. You wave them down if you see them. The cost is 1 – 1.50 USD and you should have exact change. If looking to take public transit you should consult with a local or your hotel concierge.
: : CULTURAL INFORMATION
- Smoking is permitted in public areas. Verify with your hotel if it has smoking rooms.
- There are no requirements or dress code. Locals tend to dress casual. Although one should use common sense. Bathing suits are restricted to the beach.
- The rule of thumb is that you will be treated with the same respect you
- Do not use the "Okay" gesture (with your thumb and index finger) as it means worthless.
- Always ask before taking someone's photo.
- On the French side a 10% - 15% service charge is included in the menu price or at the end of your bill as required by law. A small additional tip is appreciated for good service. On the Dutch side including service charge is optional and will be clearly stated on the menu or on the bill.
: : POPULAR LANDMARKS
Watley Square faces the small pier near the middle of Philipsburg. The old wooden courthouse and post office there date from 1793.
Fort St. Louis
Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side of the island sits Fort St. Louis, the largest historical monument in St.Martin. Named for the famous crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders.
Atop this mountain, located right on the border between St. Martin and St. Maarten, the original treaty dividing the island in two was signed by the French and Dutch. There are also the ruins of the old sugar plantation "La Sucrerie".
Butter Fly Farm
At the Butter Fly Farm you can walk amongst the rare and exotic butterflies, from around the world flying freely in the tropical paradise, with music, flowers and fresh waterfalls.
: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS
- Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.
- Take precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while travelling to avoid being a target of crime.
- Be cautious when taking a taxi and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.
- If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.
- Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.
- Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.
- Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.
- Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended.