Fast Facts for Travelers
~ The island is 37 square miles and can be easily navigated by rental car. One main road runs the perimeter of the island and there is no official border or border crossing.
~The island is shared by two countries and is divided into two distinct "sides":
~ St. Maarten (Dutch) capital: Philipsburg
Features many beaches, shopping, restaurants, chain hotels, and casinos. Cruise ships dock at Philipsburg and passengers take a ferry to the capital from the pier. The international airport (SXM) is located on this side of the island, and is approximately four hours from NYC.
~ St. Martin (French) capital: Marigot
Features many beaches, upscale shopping and restaurants, boutique and smaller hotels. The French side of the island has a smaller airport that primarily caters to small planes arriving from and departing to other islands in the Caribbean.
~ US Dollars are widely accepted.
~ No converters or adapters are required for electronics.
~ Ferry service from two main points on the island is available to Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba, and St. Eustacius.
St. Maarten shares the island with French St. Martin (both are pronounced the same), which makes up 21 square miles and is home to 39,000 people. The island has the unique distinction of being the world's smallest landmass to be shared by two countries (France and Holland).
We'll focus here on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.
St. Maarten by land and sea...
The average water temperature around the island is 81 degrees F.
~ Many guests to the island enjoy shallow diving to depths of 60 feet or less. The most famous wreck site on the island is the Proselyte Wreck and Reef on the south side, which features the frigate HMS Proselyte that sank here in 1801.
~ Water sports include sailing, kayaking, glass bottom canoeing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and fishing.
~ For an extra special vacation experience, participate in the "12 Meter Challenge"and crew on one of five sailboats from the 1987 America's Cup.
~ Many reputable tour companies offer fantastic experiences around the island - check with your hotel or cruise line for details.
The five main beaches of St. Maarten are:
Little Bay Beach: calm waters, excellent visibility for snorkeling
Dawn Beach: powdery white sand, beach bars, great windsurfing
Guana Bay Beach: views of St. Barthelemy
Maho Beach: planes taking off and landing overhead
Mullet Bay Beach: swimming, snorkeling, sunsets
Landlubbers can also find many fun activities to occupy their days in St. Maarten. Contact Harley Davidson island tours and choose from a variety of themed options, including an eco ride, a biker's ride, or a champagne ride. Rent bicycles and explore the island while getting some exercise in the sunshine. Explore the 20 miles of hiking trails and climb to Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island at 1391 feet. Visit Seaside Nature Park for horseback riding, the discovery farm and garden, team building activities, and fun on the water. If you're in need of an adrenaline rush, visit Loterie Farm for ziplining through the tree tops.
Accommodations and Activities
~ Very few hotel chains exist on the island, so most are independently owned and operated. There are some all-inclusive resorts, but not many. Travelers are sure to find accommodations to match their desired amenities, style, and budget. Working with a knowledgeable travel agent will ensure this.
~ Choose from 14 casinos to test your luck.
~ Dine at one of 350 restaurants...St. Maarten is known as the Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean.
- Shop until you drop...tax and duty free!
If you're thinking about visiting St. Maarten for your next Caribbean getaway (whether as a cruise port or destination in itself) contact me to get started with your vacation plans. We can create custom packages together, tailored to your wishes and budget, for a special and memorable vacation.
All photos are my own.