St Maarten and Saint Martin

Introduction

The Friendly Island of Sint Maarten / Saint Martin is the smallest Island shared by two countries - Netherland and France. It's a little European with a lot Caribbean flavour. The  neighbouring islands include Saint-Barthélemy (French), Anguilla (British), Saba (Dutch), Sint Eustatius "Statia" (Dutch), Saint Kitts and Nevis (Independent, formerly British). With the exception of Nevis, all of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from Sint Maarten. The more developed and bustling part is the Dutch St Maarten, and the quieter part remains the French side of Saint Martin.

History

The Arawaks were the first inhabitants of this island. In the 14th century the Caribs, a tribe of warriors, came too. These new comers gave the name ''Soualiga'' to the Island for its mineral deposits. Then, Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the Island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honour, Columbus named the Island San Martin; this name was later on translated to Sint Maarten (Dutch), and Saint Martin (French and English). Around 1630 some Dutch people arrived on the Island and established a small colony on the South of the Island to collect salt. The French also came but were more interested in agriculture and established colonies in the North part of the Island. When the French and Netherlands governments decided to act on the Island, they divided it into French (Saint-Martin in the North) and Dutch (Sint Maarten in the South) zones in 1648. The Island became the smallest world territory to be shared by two different countries.

Culture

The Island is populated by a mixture of Amerindian, European, African, Indians and Asian peoples. West Indian cultures are, consequently, exceedingly rich and varied. Sint Maarten and Saint Martin is both a melting pot of nationalities with people coming from other Islands in the Caribbean and all over the world.

Map

To See

Saint Martin / Sint Maarten is richly blessed with soft white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters. During the day, aside from catching some rays and relaxing on the beach, there are many different activities available to experience on the Island. Horseback riding, snorkelling, scuba diving, parasailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, kayaking, hiking, sailing and deep sea fishing are just a few of the popular activities to get your vacation senses excited! During the evenings, enjoy the exciting nightlife of steel bands, casinos, dance clubs, open-air cafes and incredible fine dining. Sint Maarten, the Dutch side, is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, and plentiful casinos, while Saint-Martin, the French side, is known more for its nude beaches, jewellery and clothes shopping, exotic drinks made with native rum-based guava berry liquors, and rich French Caribbean cuisine. Geography of Sint Maarten and Saint Martin Island doesn't have as much lush vegetation and waterfalls as some of the other Caribbean Islands, but the Island is still plenty appealing to vacationers with its white sand beaches. Both sides of the Island have been a lot man-made structures and have been extensively developed over the years.

Usefull Information

Airports: Princess Juliana Airport is the International airport, on the Netherlands side. On the French side, Grand Case airport serves mainly French inter-Islands flights.

Area: 87 km² divided roughly in half between France (53 km2) and the Netherlands (34 km2).

Business: When visiting the Dutch side of the Island, travellers will find most banks in Sint Maarten are open Monday to Thursday from 830 am to 1pm and then from 4pm to 5pm. In the French Saint Martin, banking hours are every weekday from 2 pm to 5pm.

Capital: The main towns are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side).

Climate: The average yearly air temperature is 27° C (min 17° C, max 35° C) and sea surface temperature 26.4° C. The total average yearly rainfall is 995 mm, with 22 days of thunder.

Clothing: The Island is a recreational tourism island. This does lead to a more casual atmosphere.

Currency: On the Dutch side, the official currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin (ANG). On the French side, the official currency is the Euro (EUR). The US dollar and major credit cards are accepted and welcomed on both sides of the Island.

Customs: Saint Martin being a department of France, duty free exemption is the same as France.  For Sint Maarten, visitors over 15 are allowed 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 2 litres of distillated beverages, 2 litres of wine, gifts not exceeding 100 ANG value.

Economy: The Island lives on trading, fishing and tourism is now an important revenue resource. Hotels industry is very developed on the Dutch side, so the French side has a more countryside style.

Electricity: The Dutch side runs on 120 volts (60 cycles) and the French side runs on 220 volts (50 cycles).

Entry & Departure requirements: Please refer to the official Saint Martin / Sint Maarten tourism websites (link below) or ask us.

Health: The Island has a broad range of medical services available to you, including emergency clinics, hospitals and pharmacies.

Holidays: New Year’s day (01 JAN), Good Friday & Easter Monday (MAR-APR), Carnival (APR), Queen’s Birthday (APR), Labour Day(01MAY), Slave abolishment’s Day (MAY) , Celebration of the 2nd War World’s end (MAY), Corpus Christi Day (MAY-JUN),  Schoelcher Day (JUL), All Saints' Day (NOV), Saint Martin’s Day (11NOV),  Kingdom’s Day (DEC), Christmas (25-26DEC).

Language: French part of Saint Martin: French. Dutch part of Sint Maarten: Dutch. English, Creole and Papamiento widely spoken too.

Political status: Saint Martin is a sub-prefecture of Guadeloupe, a region of France, and Sint Maarten is a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Population: 36.000 Saint Martin, 41000 Sint Maarten. In addition there is an average of 1,000,000 tourists’ visitors per year.

Religion: French part, mainly Catholics, Netherlands’ part mainly Protestant.

Security: Travellers to Saint Martin and Sint Maarten should have little trouble staying safe as long as they take common sense measures to protect themselves and their belongings. Never leave valuables unattended on the beach.

Shopping: Philipsburg's stores are usually open on Monday to Saturday from 9am or 10am until 6pm. Popular goods include local crafts & arts, exotic foods, jewellery, liquor, tobacco, leather goods, as well as most designer goods. Because of Duty free Tax free abound the island has become more of a shopping and relaxing destination.

Taxes & Service charges: There is a service charge on both the Dutch Sint Maarten and the French Saint Martin when visiting hotels and restaurants, and tipping people for services such as chambermaids and taxi cab drivers is customary. In Sint Maarten hotels add a 15 percent service charge and 5 percent government tax to the final bill. In French Saint Martin, the service charge is between 10 and 15 percent, and a visitor’s tax on rooms which varies in rate up to 5 percent by hotel.

Telecommunications: The international dialling code for call Dutch Sint Maarten is 599-54, plus a five digit local number. The international dialling code for French Saint Martin is 590-590, followed by a local six digit number.

Time: Standard Time Zone: GMT – 4 hrs. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten Island Time does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.

Transportation: A minibus service is available on the main roads of the Island but there is no schedule. Rental cars are the primary mode of transportation for visitors staying on island.

MORE INFORMATION: 
http://www.st-maarten.com/ or
http://www.st-martin.org/us/index.php

 

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St Maarten & St Barthelemy : Islands Combination !!!!
From: 4195 CHF/3395 €
St Maarten & St Barthelemy : Islands Combination !!!!
From: 4195 CHF/3395 €

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