All you need to know

All you need to know about Sint Maarten – Saint Martin

traffic st maarten martinBecause of its small size the island is not well suited for a road network that commensurates with its touristic success. The result is that traffic jams – that can rival those of large cities – can occur, what one would not expect in the tropics. They usually don’t last long and they certainly don’t affect the renowned courtesy of the Antillean drivers who mostly use their horns to greet a passing friend. An empty tank will only be the result of utter carelessness, gas stations are plenty and widely spread over The Friendly Island.
Two drawbridges allow boat traffic in and out of the lagoon, blocking car traffic a few minutes each time they are openend.

Simpson Bay BridgeSimpson Bay Bridge (Dutch side)

Monday -Saturday: 8:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m.

Sandy Ground Bridge (French side)

Monday -Sunday: 9:00 till 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 till 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 till 5:30 p.m.
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Climate

The island’s weather enjoys a particularly subtropical climate tempered by a steady flow of trade winds. The most pleasant period is from November to June, but the July – October season, referred to as “hurricane season”, also offers generally very good conditions. Water tempertures are only slightly effected by seasonal variations, staying all year long between 80 and 88 degrees Farenheit (26 and 31 degrees Celcius)

Languages

French and Dutch are the official languages whereas English is widely used on both sides of the island, as well as Creole, Spanish an Papamientu. Over 80 nationalities are represented on Sint Maarten / Saint Martin.

Formalities

A valid passport and a return (or forward) ticket are required. A short white form must be filled out on the plane prior to landing. No vaccinations are needed. When leaving the island, a tax of 20 US Dollar is paid for departure.

Airport

Princess Juliana Interntional Airport – the most exciting airport of the world – on the Dutch side gets flights originated from Europe, North and South America and many Caribbean islands. For information visit their website at http://www.pjiae.com/
On the French side the Grand Case regional airport services many flights between the islands. To get information visit their website at http://www.saintmartin-airport.com/

Water

As there are no natural springs on the island, water is a rare commodity, precious and expensive. Desalination units produce perfect drinking water. Additionally a large selection of mineral water is offered at the supermarkets.

Electricity

The Dutch side is provided with the US style plugs and thus 110V/60Hz.
The French side, is like in most European countries, provided with 230V/60Hz

Money

The official currencies are the Euro on the French side and the Guilder on the Dutch part of the “Freindly Island”, justifying its moniker. The US Dollar and most credit cards are widely accepted all over the island. Many ATMs are available, as are numerous change booths.

Dollar Euro exchange

Manyweather button French side establishments, even some gasstations, offer 1:1 exchange for payment in dollars instead of Euros.
Dollars can be obtained on the Dutchside and Euros on the French.

Tipping in St Maarten

Restaurants at the Dutch side of St Maarten pay their staff according to the American system: pretty low base salary, the service charge is not included in prices on the menus, so they expect the guest will add at least 15% to the check.

So when reviewing the check, search for the line called “tax”, because in many cases, a 15% charge is included according to this line. This service charge is NO real tax, as there is no such tax on the island!

On the French side, although it is officialy europe, most restaurant owners are relying on the American way of handling this, like on the Dutch side. But this implicates that legally, the price posted on the menu includes service and there is no obligation to pay more. Most European just round up and leave a few Euro.

When you are not sure what do to, just ask your waiter or waitress whether they are getting their tips paid out.

Tourist Offices

St. Maarten

St. Maarten Tourist Bureau
Vineyard Office Park
WG Buncamper Rd. #33
St. Maarten N.A.
Tel: 5995-22337
Fax: 5995-22734

Canada

St. Maarten Tourist Office2810 Matheson Boulevard EastSuite 200
Toronto, Ont.
L4W 4X7 Canada
Phone: 416-622-4300

Brazil

St. Maarten Tourist Office
Av. Ipiranga 318 bl A – 5 Andar
Sao Paulo – SP- CEP 01046-010
Brazil
Phone: 55-11-214-5588
Fax: 55-11-258-3575

USA

St. Maarten Tourist Office
675 Third Avenue, Suite 1806
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 953-2084
Fax: (212) 953-2145
Toll Free: (800) 786-2278 (1 800 STMAARTEN)

Argentina

St. Maarten Tourist Officec/
Florida 890 2nd Floor – G
1107 Buenos Aires, CF
Argentina
Phone: 54 11 4343 1100
Fax: 54 11 4343 0750

Italy

St. Maarten Tourist Office
Via Durini 2
20122 Milano
Italy
Phone: 30 02 76 02 12 03
Fax: 39 02 76 00 32 17