FAQ’s St Maarten / St Martin

(Header photo courtesy of Christine Garner)

Here you will find the frequently asked questions pertaining to the island!

IS ST MAARTEN A POOR COUNTRY ?

According to St Maarten government, St Maarten enjoys one of the highest Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the region, but poverty still exists. Please see our dedicated NGO page if you would like to support organizations contributing to quality of life for all residents.

WHAT COUNTRY OWNS ST MAARTEN ?

St Maarten / St Martin are semi-autonomous bodies within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the French Republic. Dutch side (St Maarten) autonomy is greater than the French side: whereas French side St Martin is a special community, Dutch side St Maarten has become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands as of October 10th 2010; previously she formed part of the Netherlands Antilles. Though by means a referendum Dutch side St Maarten chose this type of constitution for now, both sides of the island stand free to expand their degrees of independence from their European counterparts at any time – or to the contrary, connect even further.

IS ST. MAARTEN GOOD FOR FAMILIES ?

St Maarten / St Martin is an excellent location to visit with your entire family! Either make use of family plans at our hotels or resorts, or rent out a villa of your own with the entire family! See our dedicated what to do with kids on St Maarten page for the best beaches and activities for our junior visitors!

CAN YOU WALK AROUND ST. MAARTEN ?

St Maarten is a compact island allowing, in theory, to walk around the entire island within a day. However, because of our tropical weather climate we would not advise this as heat and dehydration are serious risks during a full day of soaking up Caribbean sun whilst walking. Our advise would be to explore the most beautiful hiking trails on island, and explore the island bit by bit, day by day with great excursions!

WHAT IS THE RAINY SEASON IN ST. MAARTEN ?

The rainy season runs from fall to spring, making this the best time to visit our island as temperatures drop accordingly. As St Maarten / St Martin is a tropical destination, you will welcome some refreshing days with drops of rain in this timeframe. Nobody on island would ever call this a “rainy season” though – chances are negligible you will have a lot of rain during your stay. See our St Maarten / St Martin weather page for all the outlooks need to know for your upcoming stay or the expectations per month!

ARE THERE MONKEYS IN ST. MARTIN ?

Originally, our island did not have monkeys for centuries – until hurricane Luis damaged our zoo in 1995. Some vervet monkeys escaped and reproduced, especially around the Pointe Blanche area. On parts other than the southeastern coast, you are unlikely to meet one. In general they are friendly but smart – so keep food wrapped or in closed boxes when outside.

CAN YOU CROSS FROM SINT MAARTEN TO SAINT MARTIN ?

Dutch side St Maarten and French side St Martin <boast the longest open border in the world. Chances are you will not notice traveling over one of the four border crossings except for a friendly sign “Welcome to the Dutch / French side” ! Both sides accept dollars.

ARE THERE MOSQUITOES IN ST. MAARTEN ?

Like any destination in the tropics, St Maarten has mosquitoes. As you are prone to be around sea and on or near our 37 beaches, they wont be a great nuisance. Most bars/nightlife and restaurants have repellant behind the counter. So should you run into one, just ask for it! Even better: visit the local lab of St Maarten Nectar, a proven island export product able to prevent bites better than many of its counterparts! Also, enjoy their cosmetics & spa!

HOW IS CRIME IN ST MAARTEN ?

St Maarten is one of the safest destinations of the Caribbean, and is acknowledged as such by various travel experts. During the day especially, crime is negigible. See our advice on where to go when at night.

IS ST MAARTEN CROWDED ?

St Maarten / St Martin has 37 beaches and many areas with a wholly different character. Areas like Simpson Bay at night and Philipsburg (when ships are in) can appear crowded at times, but many villages and beaches can be wholly yours at the same time! See our beaches and areas for advice, and select your hotel or resort accordingly!

WHERE TO WATCH THE FIFA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL ON ST MAARTEN ?

You can watch matches of the world championship of football at the AMAsterdam Bar and the Dutch Blonde Beach Bar. Both bars are located in the Philipsburg area of St Maarten / St Martin  .

WHERE TO WATCH FORMULA 1 ON ST MAARTEN ?

You can watch every race of formula 1, AMAsterdam Bar . This is a bar located in Frontsrteet , Philipsburg .

WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK IN ST MAARTEN ?

On St Maarten / St Martin, English is the standard language because of historical reasons. On the French side, French is ubiquitous too. Also, Spanish is heard a lot. Some people speak Dutch on the Dutch side, but it is predominantly the legal language only.

WHAT COUNTRY IS PRINCESS JULIANA AIRPORT IN ?

Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) is on the Dutch side of St Maarten / St Martin .

CAN YOU DRINK TAP WATER ON ST MAARTEN ?

On Dutch side St Maarten, it is not advised to drink tapwater as is the case with many countries around the equator. Both hotels and supermarkets are always able to provide fresh bottled water.

IS ST MAARTEN IN THE CARIBBEAN ?

St Maarten is located in the middle of the Caribbean region; right where the chain of islands changes course from due east to due south seen from a north American perspective.

WHERE IS ST MARTIN AIRPORT ?

If St Martin airport is to be taken literally, this would mean L’Esperance or Grand Case Airport (SFG). The vast majority of airplanes how ever arrive at its larger Dutch side airport Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) .

WHAT IS THE BEST RUM ON ST MAARTEN ?

St Maarten’s Dutch side boasts two world famous rums. Guavaberry made it to become an official Disneyland Japan Pirates of the Caribbean rum; Topper’s Rhum won various international prizes. Both export to many countries in the world.

WHERE IS ST MARTIN ?

St Martin is mostly known as the (northern) French side of the island, though many use St Martin as the general name for the island of St Maarten / St Martin. See our interactive map for its exact location. 

WHERE IS ST MAARTEN AIRPORT ?

St Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) lies in between of the Simpson Bay and Maho areas of St Maarten .

IS THE FRENCH SIDE OF ST MARTIN OPEN ?

St Maarten (Dutch side) and St Martin (French side) have had the longest history of open borders in the world. With a short exception of some months during the global covid19 pandemic, the border is freely transgressible at any given time.

WHAT AIRPORT IS SXM ?

SXM is the international airport code (ICAO) for Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch side of the island.

WHAT IS THE CAPITAL OF SAINT MAARTEN ?

The capital of Dutch side St Maarten is Philipsburg. The capital of French side St Martin is Marigot .

WHERE IS MAHO BEACH ?

Maho Beach is located in the Maho district, at the end / beginning of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). Its pictures of planes landing and departing are world famous. See Maho Beach on our interactive map.

WHAT AIRPORT DO YOU FLY INTO FOR SAINT MARTIN ?

 The island of St Maarten / St Martin has two airports. International and regional flights mostly come in at Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) à Hub on the Dutch side .  Flights from Martinique and Guadeloupe and some other Caribbean destinations also arrive on the smaller Grand Case Airport (SFG).

WHAT IS ST MAARTEN KNOWN FOR ?

St Maarten / St Martin is best known for its variety of peoples and cuisines, its green hills hiking and last but not least its beautiful beaches. Its unique division in a Dutch Side à areas and French side à Areas add to the cultural and culinary diversity and make St Maarten stick out in the Caribbean.

WHAT IS A JOHNNY CAKE?

Johnny cakes are pieces of dough, shallow-fried to form a crisp crust and soft middle. In Antigua, they were traditionally eaten on the way to work and were known as ‘journey cakes’. Eventually the name got changed, for reasons unknown! This easy Caribbean bread recipes is technically a soda breads its the baking powder which gives them their rise. There’s no yeast involved which means no proving!

 

if you want to know how to make an perfect Johnny cake you will need this Johnny cake recipe. Use this Johnny cakes recipe and you will get the perfect Caribbean Johnny cake.

• 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the surface

• 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

• 1 tablespoon baking powder

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying, plus more as needed

 

1: In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingertips.

2: Add 1 cup of water to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

3: On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead with your hands, sprinkling the surface with more flour as needed, until smooth and elastic.

4: Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

5: After dough has rested, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil.

6: Form small balls of dough with your hands. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into circles with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand. Be sure to not make them too thin.

7: In a small pot, heat the oil. Fry the dough, adding more oil if needed between batches, until golden brown.

8: Let drain on napkins or paper towels.

 

All though Johnny is cake is written like this it is often spelled and pronounced different. people may say it as Jonny cake, Johny cakes and johnycakes.

 

 

WHY VISIT ST MAARTEN ?

St Maarten is known for its close to 40 beaches, its status as culinary capital of the Caribbean, its large amount of Activities à 1001 experiences , its high Hospitality standards and safety and its diverse culture .

IS ST. MARTIN THE SAME AS ST. MAARTEN ?

St. Maarten and St. Martin are the same when referring to the island as a whole; more officially the names refer to the two sides of the binational island. St. (Sint) Maarten and St. (Saint) Martin are respectively the Dutch and French names for the same saint St. Martin of Tours whose name Columbus gave to the island as he discovered it on November 11th, the patron’s namesake day. As a predominantly English speaking island, “Saint Martin” is the most common way to describe the island. Amongst local residents on the Dutch side you would find “S’Maatin” as well as a name to call their beloved country. 

Another very common way on island to address the island locally is SXM, referring to the flight code of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA). Both sides celebrate St. Martin / St. Maarten Day on the 11th of November as one of the most important holidays. The Dutch spelling (Sint Maarten) is best pronounced as “Sint Maahrten” from an English language perspective.

IS ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN SAFE ?

St. Maarten is one of the safest countries in the Caribbean. That does not mean precautions you would normally take in other countries should not be abided to like venturing out at night to unknown and unlit areas.

HOW EXPENSIVE IS ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

The island of St Maarten / St Martin has a long history of having many affluent people as its guests. That however does not mean that there are no affordable places to stay on St Maarten. See stay with us for an overview.  In addition, the island has well over a 100 supermarkets catering to any tourist on a shoestring.

HOW BIG IS ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

St Maarten is 96 square kilometers or 37 square miles. This surface is divided 57% / 43%  between the French and Dutch side; this is roughly the reverse when you would calculate populations of both sides. 

Legend has it that the division took place when a Dutchman and a Frenchman were both invited to walk around the island along the seas, and where they would meet again would be the other end of the border. Both were invited to take a drink before they left. Whereas the Frenchman took a glass of wine, the Dutchman chose the (far more alcohol containing) Dutch Jenever (gin) as a drink of choice. This allegedly had direct effect on his speed, and hence the uneven division between both side’s surfaces. Compared to the United States, St. Maarten / St. Martin is about the size of Manhattan. For Dutch Tourists, the island of Terschelling would be an island comparable in size. Within France, the island compares to the size of Ile de Re.  

IS SINT MAARTEN / SAINT MARTIN A COUNTRY?

SINT Maarten (Dutch side) is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It shares defense forces and embassies with the Netherlands, Aruba and Curacao; on other policy terrains St. Maarten is a sovereign country. Its legal system is jointly operated with other Dutch Caribbean countries as well as the Netherlands. Its capital is Philipsburg, and its currency is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder NAF.
The northern, French side of the island is an overseas collectivity with a semi-autonomous status of France. Its capital is Marigot and its currency is Euro

WHAT TIME IS IT ON ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

St Maarten / St Martin is in the Atlantic time zone (GMT-4). This means it has the same time zone as New York, Washington DC, Miami, Florida, Charleston, Georgia and Virginia. There is an 5 or 6 hours difference with Paris and Amsterdam. This depends on the season.

 

IS ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN PART OF THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS OR A US TERRITORY?
Dutch side St Maarten is an autonomous country within the country of the Netherlands. French side St. Martin is part of France.
WHERE IS SINT MAARTEN / SAINT MARTIN ?

Sint Maarten / Saint Martin can be found in the northeastern Caribbean, the middle of the Caribbean archipelago, for which the island serves as a hub. The island lies at 18.0708° N, 63.0501° W. The northern part is French, whereas the southern part consists of an autonomous country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. See our Interactive Map for exact geographic location of Sint Maarten / Saint Martin.

WHICH AIRLINES FLY TO ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

For a full oversight of current connections and airliners, please click here.

DO YOU NEED A PASSPORT FOR ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

Like to any foreign country, a passport is needed to enter St. Maarten. Please click here for more information on this topic. 

ARE THERE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN?

Though the island remains open, to protect your and other people’s safety, some actions are required when coming to and leaving St. Maarten. See stmaartenupdates.com and stmaartenehas.com for the latest changes.

IS ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN OPEN DURING THE COVID19 PANDEMIC?

Yes, St. Maarten has continuously remained open for tourists during the pandemic. With a short lockdown in 2020, help from the Netherlands for obtaining vaccines and only some restrictions to nightlife, the island has averagely fared relatively well compared to other countries.

WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

St. Maarten is a compact country with a large array of shops, electronic stores, pharmacies and supermarkets.  That means that much of your needs are readily available on island. 

However, some general suggestions:
St. Maarten (Dutch side) has a 110 volt net, St. Martin (French side) a 220 volt one. So that means that you might want to bring an adapter depending on what side of the island you stay. Low priced adapters however are readily available in Electricity stores.
St. Maarten has an agreeable, tropical climate with many beaches, so it is suggested to bring clothes that befit our weather.
Mosquitos can occur. You can either bring your own repellant, buy it in supermarkets or visit the shops and factory of our home brew SXM Nectar

WHAT AIRPORT CONNECTS ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN TO THE CARIBBEAN AND THE WORLD?

St Maarten has two airports. Its main airport Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) (flight code SXM) in between of  Simpson Bay and Maho on the Dutch side connects St Maarten to all intercontinental flights and most regional ones. Princess Juliana International Airport connects to Amsterdam, all current destinations. For a current flight schedule see Princess Juliana International Airport. Grand Case airport (SFG) in Grand Case on the French side connects to French islands Guadeloupe and Martinique and St. Barth’s as well as some other islands in the region.

WHAT TO DO IN PHILIPSBURG, SINT MAARTEN ?

Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten, offers a wide array of activities. Please click here for a selection!

WHAT TO DO ON ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

St. Maarten / St. Martin is renowned for its large palette of opportunities to experience a great holiday for anyone’s liking. We have tried to categorize them here for our visitors, in order to plan a fantastic holiday. 

ARE THERE ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS ON ST. MAARTEN ?

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino and Divi Little Bay provide all-inclusive arrangements. 

WHERE TO STAY ON SINT MAARTEN / SAINT MARTIN ?

Amongst its frequent visitors, Sint Maarten / Saint Martin is known for its excellent level of hospitality standards. On this website we have listed resorts, boutique hotels and how to book your own villas.

HOW IS ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN AFTER HURRICANE IRMA?

On September 6th 2017, St. Maarten / St. Martin was hit by the rarely forceful hurricane Irma, whose “eye” hit the island. Three quarters of its room count has since been rebuilt, as has most of its well known shops and activities. Many entrepreneurs have taken the opportunity to rebuild along our national adage “build back better”; with improved properties and services. 

It is important to note that whereas May through November is “hurricane season”, it is unlikely that one occurs – let alone with the force of Irma.
Storms are directly spotted and monitor when they gather in the Atlantic Ocean, and their course tracked for weeks. As was the case during Irma, protocols are in place to evacuate and safeguard visitors in case St. Maarten / St. Martin would be in a possible route.

ARE CRUISE SHIPS GOING TO ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

St Maarten / St Martin is one of the largest cruise ports in the world, and ranks number 3 in the Caribbean in volume. The island has been ranked no#1 cruise port by visitors many years in a row over the past decade. Cruise traffic was suspended during the 2020-2021 pandemic, but is expected to pick up halfway 2021. 

HOW FAR IS THE PORT FROM PHILIPSBURG ON ST. MAARTEN?

St. Maarten’s cruise port is within an easy 5 to 10 minute walking distance to Philipsburg. As the Caribbean is known to be tropical climate and some prefer to skip the walk, there is multiple types of transport available to get to “town”, as St Maarteners call it lovingly. Most popular alternative means of transport are the jetty’s to three locations in town, to the (east side) near amongst others the St Maarten museum and Coffee Lounge, a middle one disembarking on Captain Hodge Pier and the landmark Courthouse as depicted on our flag; thirdly to Walter Plantz Square. Also, many excursions leave from the Port itself. If you are looking for inspiration what to do during your one day cruise or transfer visit on St Maarten / St Martin, see our special page and other types of entertainment and activities.

HOW LONG IS THE FERRY FROM ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN TO ANGUILLA?

The ferry to Anguilla, departing from Marigot harbor, takes approximately 25 minutes.

IS UBER ACTIVE ON ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

No Uber services are active at this point on St. Maarten / St. Martin. Should you require a taxi, please click here for practical information. 

WHAT IS OPEN ON ST. MAARTEN / ST. MARTIN ?

St. Maarten / St. Martin has a large array of shops, restaurants and activities to your availability. Please see our listings which ones are open to serve you!

CAN YOU USE US DOLLARS ON ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

Yes, US Dollars are widely accepted.

 

WHAT CURRENCY IS USED ON ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN ?

The official currencies of St Maarten (Dutch side) is the NAF or Dutch Antillean Guilder, whereas the French side uses the Euro. However, US Dollar is the most used currency and is accepted on both sides of the island. Click here for more information about currencies, banks and money transfers.

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