Airport

The main airport is Princess Juliana International Airport (code SXM), on the ‘Dutch’ side of the island. It has direct flights to/from cities in Europe, USA and Canada. The airport position is at Longitude 63.1W and Latitude 18.3 N.
A modern airport terminal is in operation. The runway is known for its unique approach right over the heads of beachgoers at Maho Beach, see video. More info at airport website.

The small airport of “Esperance” is located in Grand Case on the French side, code (SFG), for inter-island connections to other French islands, such as St. Barth.

 

Banks

Banks on St. Martin and St. Maarten are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 3pm on both, the French and the ‘Dutch’ side. You will find Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) at most of the banks, and elsewhere. ATM’ s usually accept Visa, MasterCard, and Cirrus. The ‘Dutch’ side ATM’s usually dispense US-$, the French ATM’s Euros.

 

Cell Phones

There are several digital cell phone systems in place. Telcell and UTS (Chippie) on the ‘Dutch’ side have GSM services. The French side has GSM services through Orange (France Telecom) and Amigo (Dauphin). As most US-phones (TDMA) are not compatible with the worldwide GSM standard, your cell phone might nor work on the island.

You need a triband GSM phone and a SIM card of the local provider for using these services. A SIM card costs about $20+ depending on provider. Many shops, supermarkets and gas stations sell pre-paid phone cards for the ‘Dutch’ side providers. All networks cover both sides of the island.

 

Climate

Dry, warm, sunny. No rainforests, vegetation in many areas similar to desert regions. Actual weather and annual averages are shown here.

 

Crime

Don’t leave valuables in your car. Vehicle theft is unfortunately another occasionally occurring nuissance. Robberies happen, too. Be careful at night time. Lock your apartment or villa, when leaving. Substantial police forces and private security contractors fight crime on both sides of the island and were able to reduce the incidents in recent years. Compared to other islands and tourist destinations, it is a relatively safe place.

 

Currency

Although the official currency of ‘Dutch’ St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder, most shops are set up to charge in USD. The Euro is the official currency for French St. Martin. The exchange rate Euro to US-$ moves up and down, according to the daily exchange rate. US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere including the French side. Exchange booths are available, dealing in the major currencies. Most major credit cards are widely accepted.

 

Electricity

Dutch Sint Maarten runs on 120 Volt, 60 cycles (American outlets). French Saint Martin runs on 230 volts,  60 (!)  cycles (French or European outlets). Most hotels and vacation properties have converters available, if needed. Some frequency sensitive equipment for 230V/50hz (European standard) does not run well with the unusual 60 hz frequency.

 

Gas/Petrol

More expensive than in the USA. Gas prices on the Dutch side are lower than on the French side. Exchange rates $/Euro could impact price comparison.

 

Language

The official language of St. Maarten is Dutch, while the language of St. Martin is French. English is widely spoken, especially on the ‘Dutch’ side. Spanish and Creole are often spoken, too. 

 

Population

The estimated population of the island is around 80,000, approx. half on ‘Dutch’ St. Maarten, and half on French St. Martin. The “Friendly Island” is recognized as the smallest piece of land shared by two countries. More than 100 nationalities live on the island. A substantial number of immigrants from Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica reside on St. Maarten & St. Martin.

 

Rental Cars

Rental cars are available from many local companies and from franchisees of international agencies. The sharp competition of more than 100 rental companies keep rates low. For more information on renting a vehicle, click here. We don’t recommend renting scooters due to the traffic conditions.

 

Taxis

Many taxis are spacious air-conditioned passenger vans. Taxis are not metered, but are required to display a list of fares. Rates are set by the government and are at US-price level.

 

Tourist Board

There is one on the Dutch side and one on the French side.