St. Maarten Travel Tips
One of the Leeward Islands located in the West Indies, St. Maarten is an island less than forty-square miles in size and is divided in half shared by two governments. St. Martin is the northern side of the region and answers to France, while St. Maarten is part of the Netherlands Antilles on the southern side. Both regions are autonomous and have had a peaceful coexistence over the past three-hundred fifty years. Like most West Indies islands, its sunny nature, lush natural beauty, and amazing beaches attracts visitors year-round.
Visitors traveling to this “hidden gem of the Spanish main” should be aware of some essential information about the place to help prepare and plan a great trip. Here are some St. Maarten Travel tips to keep you on top of things on your visit:
St. Maarten travel tips #1 –Climate
The temperature of St. Maarten remains constant year-round averaging about 80F and water temperature averages 78F. Trade winds give a little cooling on the coasts. Occasional rain showers in the late summer and early fall are be expected, with an average yearly rainfall of forty-five inches.
St. Maarten travel tips #2 – Currency
Dutch St. Maarten’s official currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin or Guilder (NAF). However, US dollars are widely accepted as well. Almost all of the prices in the island are listed in dollars and the local currency.
St. Maarten travel tips #3 – Banking Hours
Dutch St. Maarten banks are open from 8:30am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday, although some banks also open on Saturdays.
St. Maarten travel tips #4 – Customs
The island of St. Maarten is fully and completely duty free.
St. Maarten travel tips #5 – Entry Requirements
For US citizens entering St. Maarten for three months or less need a current passport or an original birth certificate together with a picture ID. For Canadian citizens entering for fourteen days or less must have a valid passport or birth certificate, or naturalization certificate. If staying more not fourteen days but less than thirty days, a certificate of admission for temporary stay is issued upon arrival. Also required are return tickets, documents for next destination, and sufficient funds. For UK citizens or British protected persons entering for three months or less is required a valid passport, return tickets, sufficient funds, and documents for next destination. Citizens from other countries should verify with a travel agent for the proper documents needed to enter St. Maarten. Vaccinations are not required unless travelers are arriving from places experiencing an epidemic.
St. Maarten travel tips #6 – Departure Tax
The departure tax is $20.00
St. Maarten travel tips #7 –Language
The official language of St. Maarten is Dutch; however, almost everybody speaks English. Spanish and Papiamento are also other common languages spoken in the island.
St. Maarten travel tips #8 – Time Zone
The island of St. Maarten follows Atlantic Standard Time all year-round. For the duration of fall and winter, noon on the East Coast of the US is 1pm on the island. During US daylight savings time, the hour on the Eastern Seaboard is the same as it is on the island.
St. Maarten travel tips #9 – Shopping
Shopping in the island is completely duty-free. Stores are open from Monday through Saturday from 9am till 6pm, other shops on the island open till 10pm or later.
St. Maarten travel tips #10 – Tipping
The majority of restaurants and hotels add ten to fifteen percent to the bill as a service charge. Tourists may tip more for special service and it is traditional to tip taxi drivers ten to fifteen percent. Porters at the airport usually receive one dollar per bag.