TRAVELER INFORMATION

USEFUL INFO

Practical tips and useful information for navigating our island paradise.

APPLIANCES

French side: European sockets run 220 V/60 Hz

Dutch side: American sockets run 110 V and 220 V/60 Hz.

Both the French and Dutch side sell European and/or American appliances, adapters and other electronics.

BANK HOURS

Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 or 3:30 p.m. Saturday,

8:30 a.m. to noon (some banks)

There are 24-hour ATMs on both sides.

BEACHES

St. Maarten/St. Martin has 37 stunning beaches, all of which are public. Regulations vary according to the beach and which side of the island governs it. Make sure to check in advance regarding rules for swimming, surfing, hiking, topless sunbathing and nude swimming.

The French side officially discourages beach nudity, though it is tolerated — and Club Orient on Orient Bay encourages it. Regardless of which side of the island you’re on, please be aware of other people, families with children and private homes.

BUSINESS HOURS

Business hours vary with the season. During high season, stores are likely to be open all day. Regular hours on the Dutch side are from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., and shops are generally open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to

6 or 7 p.m. Small groceries tend to stay open until

8 or 9 p.m. Stores on the French side open from 9 a.m. to approximately 7 p.m. but close for “extended lunch breaks,” approximately from noon to 2 p.m. Most stores close on Sunday, though some may open if there are cruise ships in port.

CLIMATE

St. Maarten/St. Martin has a subtropical climate with trade winds from the Caribbean Sea. The temperature averages around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends November 30. Sea temperature peaks at approximately 79 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 29 degrees Celsius) around February and is coldest around August, ranging from 72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 24 degrees Celsius).

COMMUNICATION

The international dialing code to call Dutch

St. Maarten is +1-721, and +590 to call French

St. Martin.

Calling from Dutch St. Maarten

To call within St. Maarten: seven-digit number

To call French St. Martin:

Landline: +590-590 + six-digit landline number

Mobile: +590-690 + six-digit mobile number

To call USA: +1 + area code + number

To call mainland France: +33 + 10-digit number

Calling from French St. Martin

To call within St. Martin: Dial the number

To call Dutch St. Maarten:

Landline: +1-721 + seven-digit landline number

Mobile: +1-721 + seven-digit mobile number

To call United States:: +1 + area code + number

To call mainland France: 10-digit number

Free internet access is provided in most hotels, although some may charge a daily Wi-Fi fee. Check with your hotel prior to booking if internet is included. You can also rent a phone or buy a chip for your phone; contact Telem or UTS (Chippie) for current pricing.

CURRENCY/CREDIT CARDS

Although US dollars are accepted almost everywhere on both sides, the two official currencies are the euro on the French side and the Netherlands Antillean guilder (called naf or florin) on the Dutch side. You can change money at banks and change points, like Moneygram or Western Union, but be aware many places do not accept traveler’s checks, checks from foreign banks or American Express. Most establishments will accept other major credit cards.

CUSTOMS/DUTY

Although many tourist destinations claim to be duty-free, St. Maarten/St. Martin is the only destination in the West Indies that can truly claim a tax-free status; and there are no particular customs procedures. Products for personal use (tobacco, cameras and video cameras) are permitted in small quantities without being subject to specific procedures or taxes.

With no customs duties, VAT or other indirect taxes to pay, the island offers unbeatable prices on many items. Make sure to consult the authorities in your country to learn the conditions regarding taking items home after your visit. For EU residents: Travelers 16 years and older are allowed 200 cigarettes/50 cigars, two liters of wine and one liter of liquor (over 22 percent alcohol) or two liters of drinks (under 22 percent alcohol).

DRINKING AGE

The legal drinking age on St. Maarten/St. Martin is 18 years.

GRATUITIES

Tips at restaurants are generally not included in the final bill but are welcome for good service. Tipping ranges from 10 to 20 percent, depending on the quality of service. Many French-side restaurant bills include tips.

HEALTH

Vaccinations are not required when entering

St. Maarten/St. Martin. Tap water is safe to drink, but bottled water is recommended. High-SPF sunscreen is essential and recommended for those not used to intense sunlight. A good pair of sunglasses and a hat are strongly recommended. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using nets, wearing long clothing and using insect repellent.

2020 PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1: New Year’s Day

February 8: St. Martin Carnival begins (French side)

February 25: Mardi Gras (French side)

March 5–8: Heineken Regatta

April 10: Good Friday

April 12: Easter Sunday

April 13: Easter Monday

April 16: St. Maarten Carnival begins (Dutch side)

April 27: King’s Day (Dutch side)

April 30: Carnival Day (Dutch side)

May 1: Labor Day

May 21: Ascension Day

May 28: Abolition Day (French side)

May 31: Whit Sunday

July 1: Emancipation Day

July 14: Bastille Day (French side)

October 12: Constitution Day (Dutch side)

November 11: St. Maarten Day

December 25: Christmas Day

December 26: Boxing Day

IMMIGRATION

All visitors require a valid passport, and certain countries may also require a visa. European, US and Canadian visitors require a valid passport and a return or continuing ticket. Canadian residents require a landing permit in addition to a valid passport and a return or continuing ticket.

IMPORTANT NUMBERS

French side:

SAMU (ambulance) 15

Gendarmes 17

Firefighters 18 or 911

Police (Marigot) 0590-87-88-33

Police (Grand Case) 0590-87-19-76

Firefighters (La Savane) 0590-52-30-40

Firefighters (Grand Case) 0590-87-95-01

Gendarmerie (Marigot) 0590-52-21-90

Gendarmerie (La Savane) 0590-52-30-00

Gendarmerie (Quartier d’Orléans) 0590-52-35-95

Sea Rescue 0590-29-20-46

Hospital 0590-52-25-25

Emergencies 0590-52-25-52

Dutch side:

Emergency 911

Ambulance 912 or 542-2111

Doctors on duty 5111

Police 911 or 542-2222

Firefighters 919 or 542-6001

Coast Guard 913 or 545-5075

Hospital 910 or 543-1111

KIDS

An ideal island for kids, St. Maarten/St. Martin offers a wide variety of activities to make children of all ages happy. Visit one of the 37 beautiful beaches, introduce them to a new water sport or explore exotic nature reserves. Many activities are ocean oriented, like snorkeling, diving, jet-skiing, parasailing and island boat tours.

Discover the beauty of the marine park with its colorful fish, turtles, rays and corals. Scuba diving centers have experienced divers to instruct and certify children 10 years or older. Windsurfing and surfing lessons for children are available on the calm waters of Galion Bay and Orient Beach. Sailing lessons on real racing yachts are accessible for kids age 12 or older, and no prior sailing experience is required. Guided kayak tours in the mangroves are also fantastic.

Emilio Wilson Park, located in Dutch Cul de Sac, is a great park for children to play. Seaside Nature Park in Cole Bay has horseback/pony rides for all levels, and a discovery farm with all miniature farm animals and a small playground. Special zip lines at Loterie Farm near Pic Paradis on the French side are great for kids, too.

Many hotels and resorts have babysitting services and kids’ clubs with professional staff to supervise children. VIP babysitting services allow infants, children, teens and young adults to have an opportunity to create, learn, discover and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean in the privacy of their villa or mega-yacht, and are available days, evenings and overnight stays but must be booked well in advance.

LANGUAGES

St. Maarten/St. Martin is a melting pot with over 100 different nationalities. On the French side, French is spoken in government departments and schools. On the Dutch side, Dutch is used in government departments and some schools, but English is widely spoken everywhere. Spanish, Creole and Papiamento are also widely spoken on both sides.

NATURE

Both sides have a variety of nature parks, protected beaches and waters. Environmental protection and the development of commercial activities work together; dive clubs and tour companies offer excursions in the protected waters of the Réserve Naturelle (French side). All partners are committed to respecting the environment, defending environmental regulations and educating about all the natural heritage sites. Some of these protected sites are The Tiki Hut and Seaside Nature Park, Pinel Island, Tintamarre, Orient Bay and Creole Rock. Sea turtles are protected animals on the island, and the

St. Maarten Nature Foundation Sea Turtle Watch Group has initiatives for their conservation. Both governments may forbid certain activities in certain areas (such as hiking, motorized transportation and anchorage).

PETS

You may bring pets to the island, but first consult your hotel or host to ensure your pet is welcome. Animals are temporarily admitted with 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 before travel. On the French side, small dogs on a leash are welcome in most places but are not allowed on beaches.

POPULATION

Approximately 41,000 people live on St. Maarten and 36,000 on St. Martin, for a combined total of 77,000.

RELIGION

St. Maarten/St. Martin is a peaceful mix of Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-day Adventist, Rastafarian and Hindu communities. Due to widespread immigration and the multiethnic culture of the island, many religious communities coexist side by side. Religion plays an important role in daily life, so it’s important to respect everyone.

SAFETY

Travelers are always advised to take safety precautions. It is discouraged to walk alone in quiet or deserted streets, especially at night. Only marked taxis booked through a reputable service should be used. Valuables should be locked in your hotel’s safe. Do not leave handbags or other valuables unattended in cars or on beaches. Although all 37 beaches are public, keep in mind there are no lifeguards present. It is ideal to use credit cards and not carry large amounts of cash.

TOURIST OFFICE

St. Maarten Tourist Office (Dutch side)

+1-721-542-2337

St. Martin Tourist Office (French side)

+590-590-87-57-21 or +590-590-51-05-30

stmartinisland.org

Government information service (Dutch side)

+1-721-542-4119

St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association

(SHTA) (Dutch side) +1-721-542-0108

St. Maarten Marine Trade Association (SMMTA)

(Dutch side) +1-721-544-2408

St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA)

(Dutch side) +1-721-542-2364

Indian Merchants Association (IMA)

(Dutch side) +1-721-587-1002

Chamber of Commerce (Dutch side)

+1-721-542-3590

Chamber of Commerce and Industry (French side)

+590-590-27-91-51

Rotary Club (Dutch side)

+1-721-587-0506 or 721-586-8888

Lions Club (Dutch side)

+1-721-542-2648

Weather forecast (Dutch side)

+1-721-545-4226

TRANSPORTATION

By renting a car, you can easily explore the island. Drive through mountain areas and lush tropical forests. It is easy to find your own favorite spot in the sun with a rental car.

Requirements

To rent a car, you must be at least 18 years old and have held your driver’s license for at least one year. Seatbelts and child seats are mandatory. Payment must be done with a major credit card.

Speed Limit

Town and city: 50 kmh (30 mph).

Traffic Restrictions

Drive on the right side of the road. Talking on cell phones and drinking are prohibited while driving. Driver must always wear a seatbelt.

Petrol/Gas

There are stations throughout both sides of the island, and many are open 24 hours. Dutch side typically is cash only.

Parking

Parking is normally easy to find, and most hotels and resorts offer secure parking.

Roundabouts

Traffic already on the roundabout has preference.

Alcohol/Sobriety Testing

Alcohol testing, especially on the French side, is very strict.

Taxis

Taxi Dutch side:

Airport Taxi Association

+1-721-542-1681

St. Maarten Taxi Association

+1-721-543-7815

Taxi French side:

Taxis Yacht Club

(+590 590) 87-26-07

Buses

Minibuses cover most areas of the island. Although there is no fixed schedule, there are dedicated bus stops. Simply wait on the side of the road or at a bus stop and raise your hand to alert the driver when a minibus arrives. Buses generally accept euros and US dollars.

Ferries

Depart from both the Dutch and the French side:

+1-264-235-6205

Anguilla Link: +1-264-497-2231/3290

Calypso Charters: +1-264-584-8504

Cheers: +1-264-235-6205

Funtime: +1-264-497-6812

+1-264-497-6511

+1-264-235-8106

+1-264-235-7022

Gotcha: +1-264-497-2956

M.V. Shauna VI: +1-264-476-6275/6534

Pinel Island

Departure from French Cul de Sac pier

(US$10 round trip)

St. Barths

St. Maarten: +1-721-542-0032

St. Martin: +590-690-71-83-01

Airline Handlers

Arrindell Aviation: +1-721-546-7847

Signature Flights: +1-721-546-7842

WATER

St. Maarten/St. Martin does not have a freshwater source; tap water comes exclusively from the desalination plant. Water has become very expensive and should be used sparingly for the sake of the environment. Spring and mineral water are available for purchase everywhere.

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