Location & Description
Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, approximately 180 miles east of Puerto Rico, lies the idyllic island of St. Maarten. This tropical treasure, collectively known as “the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” is home to approximately 77,000 English-speaking inhabitants, and boasts 37 breathtaking white sand beaches, luxury resort accommodations, amazing shopping opportunities and a wide range of outdoor activities.
Days are sunny and warm, with an average daily temperature of 80° in the winter and 86° in the summer. Gentle trade winds keep the humidity low. The water temperature is around 80°.
Airlines serving Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) for the 2009/2010 travel year include:
• American Airlines and American Eagle (800) 433-7300 • Continental Airlines (800) 231-0856
• Delta Airlines (800) 241-4141
• JetBlue (800) 538-2583
• Spirit Airlines (800) 772-7117
• U.S. Airways (800) 428-4322
• United Airlines (800) 538-2929
• Air Canada (888) 247-2262 (seasonal service Dec. through April)
• Air Transat (866) 847-1112 (seasonal service Nov. through April)
• WestJet (888) 937-8538 (new seasonal service begins Nov. 1 and runs through April)
• Caribbean Airlines (800) 920-4225
• LIAT (888) 844-5428
There are also several seasonal charter flights from the U.S. and Canada. Air travel time from New York is approximately three and a half hours (four and a half hours from Toronto).
U.S. and Canada citizens must have a valid passport and return travel tickets/documents for their next destination.
Upon departing St. Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport, travelers leaving on an international flight must pay US$30, unless the arrival and departure are on the same day. Those traveling to another island within the Netherlands Antilles pay US$10. Payment is required by cash or traveler’s check before boarding. Many airlines include the departure tax in the price of the ticket, but if you are unsure, check with your individual carrier.
Currency The official currency of Dutch St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles guilder, but the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. Prices are quoted in both guilders and U.S. dollars.
Most island banks are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Major credit cards — American Express, Visa and MasterCard — are accepted in most places, though some stores and restaurants may not accept credit cards. U.S. dollar traveler’s cheques are accepted everywhere with proper identification.
St. Maarten offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxurious secluded villas providing complete privacy, to small cottages and townhouses, to full-service luxury suite hotels and spas offering every amenity. Whether traveling with family and children, alone, or as a couple, St. Maarten has the perfect accommodations to suit every visitor’s need.
Hotels are wired in the same manner as the U.S. and Canada, with 110 volts AC.
Bottled water and purified tap water is readily available; tap water is desalinated sea water.
Car rental is by far the most convenient way to get around St. Maarten. Rates are reasonable and most agencies offer unlimited mileage, pickup, delivery, emergency services and additional insurance. You will need a driver’s license and a major credit card or cash deposit. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road throughout the island.
Taxis are widely available at hotels, major streets and venues across the island so one never has to wait long. Taxis are not metered; the government sets rates based on two passengers.
Bus transportation runs between the island’s two capitals and minibuses serve many of the popular routes.
Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten, however English is spoken everywhere. All street signs, maps and menus are in English.
St. Maarten is an informal island, although swimwear is appropriate only at the beach. In some restaurants and nightspots, guests may feel more comfortable wearing something more formal.
Known as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” St. Maarten offers a wider variety of cuisine than any other island in the world. Over 300 restaurants provide anything from local BBQ ribs and chicken, to first class French fare cooked by famous chefs imported from Paris.
Other than local style and French culinary delights, worldwide cuisine is well represented on the island with choices including Italian, Tex-Mex, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese and Chinese, to name but a few. There are also a number of outlets that specialize in health foods and vegetarian/vegan menus, and you will be astounded by the extensive wine lists and cocktail menus offered by many of the island’s dining havens.
And yes, St. Maarten does have McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Subway for those who must have a fast food fix every couple of days.
In most restaurants around the island, a 15 percent service charge is added to the bill. Additional tipping for exceptional service is appreciated by the friendly staff..
U.S. Shopping Regulations
As a completely duty-free island, visitors from the U.S. can bring back up to $600 worth of items without paying duty when going through U.S. Customs. Canadian citizens can bring back up to $750 CAD in island purchases. Island-wide, visitors will find great bargains on handbags, shoes, alcohol, cosmetics, jewelry, electronics, cigars and more.
St. Maarten is home to 14 casinos. All offer gaming tables including craps, blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. You must be 18 years or older to gamble.
There are countless land and water activities for vacationers in St. Maarten, including boating, hiking, mountain biking, deep-sea fishing, golf, horseback riding, parasailing, windsurfing, kite boarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, spa services, dining, shopping and nightlife. Activities are available for singles, couples and families – there is something for everyone in St. Maarten.
Day trips from St. Maarten can easily be made to neighboring islands: Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Eustatius, and Saba. Ferry service is available.
In most cases, visitors do not have a problem receiving a signal and using their cellular phone while on the island (depending on service and type of phone – check with your provider). For specific pricing and roaming rates, travelers should contact their individual carrier.
Many cafés and restaurants across the island offer patrons with a laptop the ability to get online fast and effectively using WiFi access. In some instances, hotel lobbies are outfitted with computers for added comfort and convenience. Many hotels also offer in-room Internet access.
St. Maarten Tourist Bureau
Vineyard Office Park
WG Buncamper Rd. #33
St. Maarten N.A.
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