About The Island
About St. Maarten
Often referred to as the crossroads of the Caribbean, St. Maarten is located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, approximately 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is just three hours from New York City and two hours forty-five minutes from Miami.
The 37-square-mile island of St. Maarten was first settled by the Arawaks and was discovered by Christopher Columbus on behalf of Spain in 1493. Columbus sighted the island on November 11th, the holy day of St. Martin of Tours, and so named the island after him. For the next 150 years the island was passed between Holland, England, France and Spain. The old stone forts that guard many of the island's inlets are proof of the island's turbulent past. In 1648 St. Maarten was peacefully divided between Holland and France, and today is the smallest landmass in the world to be shared by two sovereign nations.
Things to Know
Climate: Sub-tropical, with trade winds from the Caribbean Sea.
Temperature: The island has a year-round temperature of approximately 80°F (27°C).
Language: English is the predominate language in the island, however the official language on the St. Maarten side is Dutch, and is officially French on the St. Martin side. French Creole, Spanish, Papiamento and other languages are also spoken.
Population: 41,000 people live on St. Maarten and 36,000 on St. Martin for a combined total of 77,000.
Currency (Dutch St. Maarten): Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf); the official exchange rate is NAf 1.77 for each US$1.00 U.S. dollar.
(French St. Martin): The official monetary unit is the euro.
- A valid passport and a return/continuing ticket.
- A valid passport and a return/continuing ticket.
- A certified copy of birth certificate, a photo identification and a return/continuing ticket.
- A "Landing permit" (Permanent Resident Card) with valid passport and return/continuing ticket.
Nationals of the countries not listed above Click here for more information
The following categories are exempted from the visa requirement:
- Holders of a valid residence permit for the United States, Canada, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Switzerland;
- Holders of a valid residence permit for the French part of St. Maarten;
- Holders of a valid residence permit for one of the countries or public bodies (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean.
NB:The visa requirement applies to all children, regardless of age. They must have their own visa sticker, which means that they must have their own passport. Fees do not need to be paid for visa applications for children under the age of 6.
Electricity (Dutch St. Maarten): 110-volt AC, 60 cycles (same as U.S. & Canada)
(French St. Martin): 220-volt AC, 60 cycles (requires the use of adapters and transformers)
Medical Facilities: St. Maarten Medical Center in Cay Hill and L'hospital General de Gaulle in Marigot, St. Martin. Airlift is available to Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. in case of extreme medical emergency.
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 before visit.
Getting to St. Maarten by air or sea is now easier than ever. Just three hours from New York City and four hours from Miami, direct fights are offered by such carriers as Continental, American, U.S. Air, United, Delta, Spirit and Jet Blue. In 2006 a new terminal building was completed at St. Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). Other recent upgrades to the airport include air traffic control, radar system upgrades and improvements to the taxiways and apron.
For international destinations, there is a departure tax of US$30.00 for those aged two and up. This departure tax may already be included in the airfare of certain carriers. For islands locally, the departure tax is US$10.00. Some islands have made provisions to include the departure tax in your airline ticket.
St. Maarten's A.C. Wathey Pier is ranked among the top ten world cruise ports and destinations. This ultra-modern facility, featuring seaside and boulevard promenades, can accommodate four cruise vessels alongside its 2100 feet cruise pier. A genesis class pier is currently under construction.
Airports: Princess Juliana International Airport (Dutch St. Maarten) services all the international flights. L'Espérance Airport (French St. Martin) services small commuter flights from neighboring islands.
Seaports: Main deep-water port: Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility located in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
Click here to visit the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association website.
Telephone: Calls to St. Maarten/St. Martin from the U.S. are international calls and require the following country codes:
(Dutch St. Maarten): +721 followed by 54 and the seven-digit local number
(French St. Martin): +590, 590 again followed by the six-digit local number
Time: Atlantic Standard Time, year-around
Under the Water
With over 50 unique dive locations, St. Maarten is truly a destination for divers of every skill level. The turquoise waters that surround the island are teeming with color and life. Here divers and snorkelers will find thousands of multicolored fish, shells and crustaceans of every shape and size, as well as a rainbow of coral, algae and marine plants.
Above the Water
You can explore the island by kayak and venture into its numerous secret coves and calm inlets. You can rent a Sunfast 20 and enjoy a leisurely sail in the Simpson Bay lagoon. In fact, you can rent just about any form of water transportation you can think of at most beach resorts, from Hobie Cats, to motorboats, to canoes. And for windsurfers, on the windward northeast side of St. Maarten are two beaches divided by a peninsula. On one side the flat waters of Coconut Grove are ideal for beginners, and on the other side, the wilds of Orient Beach are perfect for more advanced sailors.
Bike your way around St. Maarten and the miles will melt away faster than the passage of time. From the limestone plateau of the lowlands and the cliffs at Cupecoy, to the volcanic rock summits of Paradise Peak and the shoreline roads and the natural preserves, you will find that mountain and trail biking on St. Maarten is a magical adventure. At the St. Maarten Museum you will follow the history of the island and its inhabitants from prehistoric to modern times, and learn about cargo that was salvaged from a British man-of-war that sank off the coast in 1801. At St. Maarten Park you will learn about plants and animals that were here when the Arawaks of South America first landed on the islands of the Caribbean, and delight at the antics of the golden lion tamarins and baboons. In galleries and home studios across the island, you will be amazed at the wealth of talent that exists throughout the Caribbean, much of which is on display right here, and available for collectors and admirers alike.
Maho Beach is one of the island's most dramatic swimming spots. Swimmers enjoying a splash in the water can also experience the unusual thrill of airplanes passing right over their heads as they head for the nearby runway of Princess Juliana International Airport. The craggy rocks lining the white sand beach add another dramatic touch. There are also wet bikes available for rent.
Simpson Bay Beach
One of St. Maarten's more private beaches is Simpson Bay Beach, a long half-moon of white sand set between a picturesque fishing village and the murmuring sea. There are no water sports, no resorts, just the sound of water gently lapping at your feet. You can stroll, swim, or simply relax, all the while seeing barely another soul.
Cupecoy Beach is another unspoiled landscape with pure white sand, sandstone cliffs, and shoreline caves as a setting. The surf can be strong, but the wind is blocked by the rocks. Lying near the border with St. Martin, its dress code is influenced by that of the French beaches: clothing is optional.
Great Bay Beach
Stretching for two miles in front of the Dutch side capital of Philipsburg, Great Bay Beach is one of the longest and widest beaches on the island. With the expansion of the boardwalk it is a great place to hang out and party with the backdrop of a luscious tropical beach. Look for the myriad of cruise ships that sail into her harbor daily. With its proximity to the one of the greatest shopping experiences in all of the Caribbean, Great Bay Beach offers something for everyone.
Little Bay Beach
Little Bay Beach is located on the southern coast of St. Maarten, just around the corner from Great Bay. This small but pretty beach is well protected by the outcrop of Fort Amsterdam right on the edge of Philipsburg. For diving enthusiasts, it offers one of the rare beach dive locations, as the waters here are generally calm due to its 'cove like' nature and also the installation of solid rocky beach breaks, making it an ideal spot for children. There is a wide selection of beach equipment from snorkeling gear to jet-skis so there is plenty to do for an active family.
Kim Sha Beach
Kim Sha Beach is the best place on earth for breathtaking sunsets. Many people say that Kim Sha Beach is a part of Simpson Beach, but actually it is located outside the lagoon, which makes it a perfect area for excursion and dive boats to start their trips. Drinks, chairs and umbrellas are available from the commercial establishments and in the center of the beach is Ocean Explorers Dive Center, a certified PADI dive shop.
Mullet Bay Beach
Mullet Bay Beach is the quintessential Caribbean beach with ample white sand and lush palm trees that dot the fringe of the waterfront, as well as scenic views of the volcanic mountains in the distance.
Dawn Beach, located to the east of Oyster-Pond Marina, is known for its powdery white sand and picturesque views of St. Barthelemy
Guana Bay Beach
Guana Bay Beach, located along the south east coast of the island, is one of St. Maarten's undiscovered treasures. Rarely visited this magnificent beach offered outstanding views of St. Barthelemy and is a perfect location for wind and kite surfing.
Geneve Bay is a beautiful natural swimming pool that is protected from the Atlantic swell making it a perfect destination for families.
Cove Bay, located between Cole Bay and Little Bay, can be found at the end of a 20-minute hike from Cole Bay Hill. This hidden gem is a favorite of hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.
Burgeaux Beach can be found just beyond Simpson Bay. This secluded beach is situated in a cove and offers the perfect location for shell connoisseurs and surfers alike as it features a strong current
What's more, talent from around the world comes to St. Maarten to entertain, adding to an ambiance of carefree fun and frivolity that is native to an island where all are welcome, an island where all are free to enjoy life to its fullest, an island that perfectly blends European sophistication with Caribbean charm.
Inspired by steamy miami nightlife, St. Maarten nightclubs are equipped with the hottest dj's and latest dance mixes to keep you out on the dance floor all night long. Our nightclubs range in style from the trendy and hip Tantra Night Club and Sanctuary, a two story venue that combines Zen and 18th Century Ambiance with one of the largest dance floors in St. Maarten, to the relaxed, open air Bliss Night Club.
Lit by Tiki torches and cooled only by the sea breeze, you can trade in your party dress for a bathing suite and take a dip in the full size swimming pool while enjoying specialty drinks and modern techno.
Where else but St. Maarten can you be on a beautiful Caribbean Island and still enjoy vegas style casinos equipped with all the latest video slot machines, table games and tropical island drinks to keep you busy until morning, and well beyond that. Table games include: Baccarate, Poker, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Poker, Texas Hold'em, Roulette and Blackjack.
Watch the last of the planes fly into Princess Juliana International Airport as the sun sets over the water. Mix with the local characters from all walks of life who share the same passion for great Latin, soul and reggae at the sunset beach bar, where many travelers begin their night with refreshing tropical island drinks. But if you want to see all of St. Maarten's local beach bar scene, then hop on the St. Maarten Party Bus where you and up to fifty others will bar hop all night long. There's no better way to see more of this beautiful island, or meet more of its wonderful people.
Couples planning on getting married on St. Maarten must be at least 18 years of age. Requests must be submitted at the least 14 days prior to the scheduled ceremony to be conducted by the Registrar. The following notarized original documents must be submitted to the Registrar with your request:
* A full abridged birth certificate to prove the legality of the same. These documents should be provided with an "Apostille" stamp. The "Apostille Stamp" can be obtained at the Secretary of State's office in the various states in the USA. In Canada, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Consulate have to legalize said documents.
- Unmarried persons must present a declaration of marital status not older than 3 months;
- Persons must be 18 years of age;
- Address of both parties;
- Names of parents and maiden name of mother;
- Date and Place of birth of parents;
- Professions of bride and groom and of parents;
- 6 (six) witnesses if the marriage is performed outside of the Marriage Hall. Non-Dutch witnesses must present a valid passport or a birth certificate with a picture I.D.;
- If widow(er), a death certificate;
- If divorced, a divorce certificate or a final judgment decree;
- For minors, permission of the parents is required;
- In the event persons are not of Dutch nationality, a valid passport is required;
Original documents other than Dutch or English need to be translated into the Dutch language (i.e. a French or Spanish document must be translated into Dutch, not English).
The price for contracting a marriage depends on your choice of location and the day of the ceremony and will be a minimum of US$ 178.00 and a maximum of US$ 410.00. Prices are subject to change without notice.
Questions can be directed to:
Chief Registrar -
Census Office Soualiga Road
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Download the ultimate handheld guide to all things St. Maarten. You can easily search out cool things to do, great places to eat, and amazing places to stay.
Explore St. Maarten
from a bird's eye view
This handy little interactive map will most certainly help you
plan your next great St. Maarten Adventure
View the online version of our Travel Guide
Get instant access to our online Travel Guide which contains everything you need to know about our little patch of paradise.Request Online Version
Request a free printed brochure.
Or if you prefer, request a free printed version of our Travel Guide by providing your name and mailing address.Request Printed Brochure