Information & Facts
On St. Maarten/St. Martin things are fairly informal, but
jackets and ties should be worn by men for meetings. English is
spoken widely throughout both the French and Dutch parts of the
island and is often the language used in meetings. Business hours
are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The island is sunny and warm all year round, with average
monthly temperatures varying little throughout the year.
Temperatures in coastal areas range from 72-86ºF (22-30ºC) and from
66-81ºF (19-27ºC) in inland areas. Cooling winds buffet the island
all throughout the year. Showers can be expected at any time of
year but rainstorms pass quickly. Winter and the Christmas/New Year
holidays are traditionally the most popular time to visit the
island but summer is a great time to visit because lodging rates
are much lower and the beaches, roads and restaurants are not
The country code for St Maarten, as part of the Netherlands
Antilles, is +599. The code for French St Martin is +590. To dial
Dutch St Maarten dial 599-54 plus a five-digit number, and to dial
French St Martin dial 590-590 plus a six-digit number. Phoning from
one side of the island to the other is considered to be an
international call. The outgoing code for both sectors is 00
followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United
Kingdom). City/area codes are not in use. GSM 900 and 1800 mobile
network coverage extends across both parts of the island. Internet
access is available at Internet cafes, and in most resorts.
Island culture on St Maarten and St Martin is very relaxed, and
there are few dress codes aside from high-end restaurants and
clubs. Dressing provocatively will attract unwanted attention,
however, and wearing beachwear off the beach is considered
Arrivals in St Maarten/St Martin will not have to pay customs
duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, 2 litres of
alcohol and gifts to the value of ANG100.
110/220 volts, 60Hz. Standard, flat, two and three
pronged plugs, as found in the United States, are
No vaccination certificates are required for entry into either
St Maarten or St Martin, however a yellow fever certificate is
required for travellers arriving within six days from infected
areas. The Manchionneel tree that grows all over the island, mainly
along the beaches, is extremely poisonous: the sap and fruit, which
look like small green apples are caustic and burn the skin. Water
is safe to drink. Medical care on the island is good, but patients
are likely to be transferred to the US for anything serious.
Medical insurance is strongly advised.
Dutch and French are the official languages, but English
is widely spoken. Locals commonly use a language known as
Papiamento, a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and
On the Dutch side the currency is the Netherlands Antilles
Guilder or Florin (ANG), where one guilder is divided into 100
cents, but US Dollars are also widely accepted and prices are
usually quoted in Dollars as well as Guilders. On the French side
of the island the Euro (EUR) is the local currency, although
establishments will also accept US Dollars. There are numerous
bureaux de change and banks throughout the island and ATMs in the
main towns in both national sectors; travellers cheques and major
credit cards are widely accepted.
On 10 October 2010, the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved,
however St. Maarten will continue to function as an independent
country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. All tourists must
have return or onward tickets, all documents needed for next
destination and sufficient funds. Passports must be valid for the
length of stay. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
(WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and
Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to
present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or
re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid
passport will be required by immigration authorities. It is highly
recommended that passports have at least six months validity
remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel
destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to
those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Most visits to the island are trouble-free, however crime has
been increasing in recent years and visitors should refrain from
leaving valuables unattended on beaches, in cars and hotel lobbies.
Burglaries and break-ins occur sometimes at resorts, beach houses
and hotels and there have been incidents of armed robbery.
Precautions should also be taken against car theft and insurance
cover is advisable.
On the Dutch side of the island hotel bills include a tax of 5%,
and often a service charge of 15%. Waiters and bar staff should be
tipped between 10 and 15% if not included in the bill. On French St
Martin hotels usually add 5% occupancy tax per person, but a small
gratuity is appreciated for good service. Restaurants and hotels
usually add a service charge of 10 to 15% to the bill, and it is
always best to check the bill. Taxi drivers and porters expect to
be tipped, particularly if they have handled luggage.