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This unique island is a mix of French and Dutch and is a joy to explore as a result of the diverse cultures. St Martin is divided into French (St Martin) and Dutch (St Maarten) sections and is one of the busiest cosmopolitan islands in the Caribbean. The many sandy beaches are lined with hotels, condominiums and there are a plethora of duty free shops, restaurants and casinos. St Martin is home to the Heineken and Anguilla sailing regattas among others.
Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the island (St Maarten).
American Airlines offers more frequent flights to St. Maarten than any other airline but flights are also available with United Airlines and Delta. American currently offer one daily nonstop flight from New York's JFK and one from Miami. From Canada, Air Canada, WestJet, CanJet and Air Transat fly regularly. to Europe on KLM (Netherlands), France on Air France, Air Caraibes and Corsair; and to/from various other islands in the Caribbean on American Eagle, Liat, Winair and several others.Additional nonstop daily flights into St Maarten are offered by American and its local affiliate, American Eagle, from San Juan.
American Airlines: www.aa.com
United Airlines: www.unitedairlines.com
There are regular direct flights from London, and other major European cities with Americal Airlines, KLM, Air France and Air Caraibes.. Alternatively one stop flights to New York's JFK or Miami are available.
St Maarten: WG Buncamper Road 33, Philipsburg. Tel: + 00 1 721 542 2337.
Most visits to the Dutch St Maarten and French St Martin are trouble-free. However, petty theft and street crime occur. There is violent crime amongst members of the illegal drugs world, but this rarely affects tourists. The main tourist areas are generally safe, but you should take sensible precautions. Avoid remote areas at night. Do not take valuables to the beach. Make sure purses and handbags are closed and not easy to snatch. Tourists report many instances of parked rental cars being rifled and organized teams can break in effortlessly - always remove valuables from vehicles.
There are no travel visas required by North American or European visitors to St Martin. Guests traveling from outside North America or Europe or not holding valid US, Canadian or European passports, must check with the St Martin Embassy/Consulate. When leaving St Martin there is a departure Tax of USD 30.
St Martin being part of France has the same medical system as France and all common medication can be obtained here. Philipsburg and Marigot are the capitals of the Dutch and French sides and the hospitals are on the outskirts of each. The Dutch side hospital, St Maarten Medical Center is located in Cay Hill, to the west of downtown Philipsburg. The French side hospital, the Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center of Saint Martin, is located in Concordia just east of Marigot, between Rue de Concordia and Rue de Spring.
There are no springs or rivers on the island and tap water comes exclusively from the desalination plant. Like on the rest of the planet, water has become a rare asset and is therefore expensive. Spring water and mineral water are available for purchase across the island.
St. Martin as well as several other Caribbean islands have been plagued with Chikungunya Virus. It is similar to Dengue Fever, and has no known cure. It is recommended to wear long sleeves and use of mosquito repellent high in DEET.
If you're on Maho Bay, watch out for approaching and departing planes. Get too close and a jet engine from a plane taking off can blast a lot of air, sand, or water into your face, or worse cause serious injury or death.
The Euro is the acceptable currency on the French side of the island and the Florin (Netherlands Antillean guilder or florin) is the acceptable currency on the Dutch side. US dollars are sometimes also accepted across the island. There are many change points and banks on St. Martin and major credit cards are widely accepted.
The electric current is: French side: 220V / 60Hz. European sockets and Dutch side: 110V / 60 Hz. American sockets.
Le Grand Marche contains a huge variety of products from all over the world including Americas, Europe, Middle-East & Asia. Simply is avilable on the Marigot side of the French bridge.
Orange Caraïbes, Dauphin Telecom, Médiaserve and Caribserve are the primary internet providers. Broadband internet (ADSL) is available in most districts. Wifi internet can be accessed in some areas in the north of the island and in Terres Basses. You can also access the internet at one of the many internet cafes on the island. The vast majority of hotels have internet access, as do the Marinas. International dialling codes are +590 for St Martin and +1-721 for St Maarten.
St Martin offers a wonerful showcase of fusion cuisine with a subtle blend of flavours combining modern and traditional flavours. The variety of foods available on the island is vast, with fish, lobster and shellfish, succulent meats and traditional barbecues on the menu, all served up with local spices, Creole sauces or tropical fruits.
Most restaurants on both sides of St Martin add 12 to 15% automatically. Some show it on the bill and then put the total amount on the credit card spot leaving the tip section blank, hoping you will add more. You can opt to leave 5-10% more for good service, in cash on the table. Taxis ask for 10%. Baggage handlers ask for $1 per bag.