Discover St Maarten

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.

 

  • IMMIGRATION

Entry Requirements for U.S. citizens:
A valid passport and a return/continuing ticket.


Entry Requirements for Canadian citizens:

A valid passport and a return/continuing ticket, or a certified copy of the birth certificate, a photo identification and a return/continuing ticket.


Entry Requirements for EU citizens:

A valid passport and a return/continuing ticket.


Entry Requirements for Nationals not listed above:

Click here for more information.

To fully enjoy all of the diversity that the island has to offer, a rental car offers the best way to see everything. For the best deal on car rentals you can always shop around, but each of our resorts has a car rental on site. Sometimes that personal service (ever lock your keys in the car?) can be worth a bit extra. You can have the car meet you at the airport even. We drive on the right side of the road; as opposed to the left that is.  While there are not a lot of road signs, with only 36 square miles it won’t take you long to get there even with a few side turns.

 

Driving:

International driver's license

 

Taxis:

Available at airports, towns and resort areas

November 1
All Saints Day

 

November 2 – 9
Tourism Awareness Week

 

November 2
Caribbean Tourism Day

 

November 11
St. Maarten / St. Martin Day (stores closed)
Roadrunners Around the Island Relay Run

 

November 25
Day for elimination of violence against women
'Santa Claus' House' - A private home in Cripple Gate opens to the public for entertainment, Christmas food and spirits

 

December 4
3K Telethon Team Relay Run
20th Anniversary of Miss Caraibes Hibiscus (annual international beauty contest for all countries of the Caribbean and America)

 

December 6
Thanksgiving Service

 

December 11
Brass Band Christmas Concert

 

December 15
Kingdom Day

 

December 19 & 26
Roadrunners Green House 7K Run

 

December 25
Christmas Day (stores are closed)

 

December 26
Boxing Day
DJ Pauly and the Mix Master Crew Presents BEACH BASH on Mullet Bay Beach
19th Annual Pan In Paradise (Christmas Concert), folkloric steel pan concert

 

December 31
New Years Eve - live entertainment on boardwalk and midnight fireworks

The history of St. Maarten/St. Martin began long before European exploration. Arawak Indians arrived on the island from Central America around 800 A.D. Hundreds of years later, Christopher Columbus spotted the island from his ship on his1493 voyage, but never landed on the place that he named St. Martin. Over the next couple hundred years, lured on by the rich salt deposits of the Great Salt Pond behind where Philipsburg is today, the island went through a succession of occupations by the Dutch, Spanish, English and French trading back and forth. The dual nation island followed some of the same historical patterns that were prevalent throughout the Caribbean region, including the introduction of the sugarcane industry and slavery.

Border point between St Maarten and St MartinCoat of armsThe Courthouse of St Maarten

The French and Dutch colonists reclaimed the island and both groups were set on inhabiting St. Martin. Initially, the French and Dutch had a few spats of disagreement, but eventually, both groups accepted the fact that neither was going to leave St. Martin without a fight. In 1648, both sides signed the Treaty of Concordia, which divided the island between the two nations. Even with the treaty, conflicts arose between the two sides of the island, as well from external attacking European forces.

The inhabitants of St. Martin come from all over the world, including various European, African, and Caribbean countries. Of course, the government is strongly influenced by the French and Dutch on their respective sides of the island. St. Martin is an overseas collectivity of France, with their governing body being a Territorial Council headed by a president. Sint Maarten, was formerly a part of the Netherlands Antilles, and governed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  In October of 2010, the Netherlands Antilles dissolved and Sint Maarten became an independent governing body with ties to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, much like Aruba is. St. Martin has a total area of 36 square miles, with a population of nearly 90 thousand people. The city with the highest concentration of residents, Marigot, is on the French side of the island, but the Dutch side of the island has a larger overall population.


Language is one of the most explicit indications of culture on St. Martin. The official language of St. Martin is French, while the official language of St. Maarten is Dutch. Other cultures are manifest in religion and the island's music, which is rooted in African culture, and food, which tends to mix French delicacies with Creole heat.

St. Martin's economy suffered a severe blow with the emancipation of black slaves on the island and the end of the sugar industry. But this tiny island has managed to maintain its economy with the tourism industry and its relationship with other countries, like the U.S., from which St. Martin imports a lot of goods. This is important because St. Martin has very limited sources of agriculture and natural resources. The economy of St. Martin definitely centers on tourism, with 85 percent of the labor force employed by the tourism industry.

The island of St. Maarten is ½ Dutch, ½ French and 2/3rds Caribbean. As you can see from the math, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.

 

Characterizing the 2 sides of the island, we see that the Dutch side has retained more of the Caribbean flavor, and less of the European influence is seen than on the French side. This perhaps is typical of the two countries historical colonization patterns. The Dutch have been historically great traders, and their cultural impacts on the countries they have owned or occupied have been less than that of many other nations. Adapting to their surroundings while making sure of a good flow of Guilders (the Dutch currency prior to the Euro) was more their style. On French St. Martin you will see more of the culture of France as we know that the French have always believed that one of their greatest gifts to a colony was their culture.

Chef Dino Jagtiani and guestLanding on St Maarten (National Geographic - photo of the day)Carnival - a real St Maarten specialty

However, on both sides of the island you will see more of a younger culture, that of the African Caribbean. When the Africans were brought to the Caribbean as slaves by the Europeans, they came from many diverse areas of Africa and lacking a common historical culture, they immediately set out to form a new one. Given their separation by the physical barrier of the Caribbean Sea, each island has evolved its own unique culture with its own flavor.

 

For St. Maarten/St. Martin, from the 1800s to the 1960s there has been a mingling of peoples and families within the closest islands, Anguilla, Saba, Statia, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Barths and to a lesser extent as the sea miles add up to other nearby islands. There also has been added to this the various migrations as work was available in Guadalupe, Martinique, Aruba, Curacao and even the Dominican Republic. St. Maarten/St. Martin, lacking many resources was a quiet backwater, where people enjoyed a peaceful and relatively comfortable life, earning it the reputation as the “Friendly Island”.

St Maarten Heineken RegattaCruiships anchored in PhilipsburgMegayacht entering Simpson Bay

From 1970 on, as tourism started to develop in earnest, people flocked to the Island from over 100 countries to provide the services and to make a good living. Today’s culture is one that can only be described as metropolitan, where people from all over the world live in a remarkable harmony of diversity with a heart that is still St. Maarten/St. Martin. High-speed internet and one of the highest per capita usage of fast computers, cell phones, satellite television, and the easy movement of both goods and people have changed the island from a sleepy backwater to a vibrant and exciting place to live.

 

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