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St. Martin: Travel Tips
More than 350 years have passed since France and the Netherlands agreed to co-exist on this 37-square-mile island. The southern half (Sint Maarten) belongs to the Dutch, and is more touristy than the Gallic side. Crossing the border between the two is effortless, and both boast fine beaches. December through mid-April is the most popular time to visit the Caribbean, as travelers flee the chilly northern weather for sunny skies, white-sand beaches, and warm temperatures. To get the best rates, visit in the late spring or summer months—or get even better rates by traveling in the fall (September–October).
Getting To St. Martin
If you are traveling from the west coast, plan on leaving as early as 7 a.m., or take a red-eye flight to Miami, Atlanta, or New York and connect from there. Coming from New York, you can expect to travel approximately five hours, from Atlanta or Miami it can be approximately three hours and as long as eight hours from Seattle. In any case, plan on leaving early or on a red-eye flight from the West Coast.
- 3 hours from Miami
- 5 hours from Newark
Staying In St. Martin
Although the island is often referred to by one name, it is actually divided between France (St. Martin) and the Netherlands (St. Maarten). Cruise ships dock at the Dutch capital, Philipsburg, which boasts hundreds of duty-free shops, golfing, casinos, and most of the island’s nightlife. On the French side you'll find less-crowded beaches and fabulous restaurants. The capital city of Marigot and the town of Grand Case are famous for their Creole cuisine and fresh seafood.
- The popular Orient Beach
- Paradise Peak for panoramic views
Things to do
- Test your luck, and gamble at an exclusive casicno in Dutch St. Maarten.
- Shop for hand-made, one-of-a-kind men’s and women’s fragrances.
Traveling In St. Martin
Classic can arrange convenient and comfortable transfers at the time of booking. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel via taxi or shared transfer. In some locations, a private car transfer can be arranged to avoid the stops. Classic can also arrange friendly and fast car-rental service on many of the Caribbean Islands; with an availability of the most popular car rentals, from convertibles to minivans to four-wheel-drive jeeps. Be prepared to drive on the left side of the road on many islands.
While traveling in St. Martin we recommend:
- Private transfers at time of booking - Most private transfers include a meet-and-greet by English-speaking drivers, luggage assistance, and bottled water in modern vehicles.
Things to Know
- A valid passport is generally required for entry into the Caribbean and return to the United States.
- Some countries may also require you to present a return airline ticket.
- It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain the proper documents.
- U.S. currency is accepted nearly everywhere you go in the Caribbean.
- Currency can be exchanged at banks and island hotels (although for slightly more than the standard exchange rate).
- Most major American and European credit cards are accepted throughout the islands.
- ATMs are widely available throughout the Caribbean.
- The islands that make up the Caribbean span several time zones.
- Most Caribbean islands lie in the Atlantic Standard Time zone, but a few are in the Eastern Time Zone.
- Many of the islands do not observe daylight savings time.