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Saint Martin Travel Guide: Tips and Requirements for 2023

Welcome to Saint Martin

Saint Martin Island

From stunning white beaches and crystal clear waters to duty-free shopping, vibrant nightlife, and a diverse mix of cultures, you'll get two Caribbean island vacations for the price of one on Saint Martin or Sint Maarten.

Whether you want to visit the French or Dutch side, read our ultimate Saint Martin travel guide to plan your trip.

Document checklist for Saint Martin

  • Visa (if applicable)

  • Valid passport

  • Sufficient funds to cover your trip

  • Return or onward ticket

Essential Saint Martin travel information

  • Currency - The official local currency is the Antillean guilder (ANG). It’s pegged to the U.S. dollar at approximately ANG 1.80 to 1 USD. You can also use Euros on the French side of the island.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - Allow a daily budget of $100 per person, per day.

  • Languages - Dutch and French are the official languages on their sides of the island. English is also an official language of the Dutch side and is widely spoken on both sides.

  • Number of travelers per year - Over 1 million visitors arrive each year, most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten.

  • Socket type - Sint Maarten (Dutch side) uses the same plugs as the United States, types A and B, with a 110 voltage at 50 Hz standard. On the French side, Saint Martin uses type E and 220 voltage at 60 Hz.

  • Time zone - Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Philipsburg, Simpson Bay, and Marigot.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Maho Beach, Mullet Bay Beach, and Pinel Island.

Visa information for Saint Martin

Many visitors to Saint Martin do not require a visa for stays of up to 30 days, including nationals of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Japan.

There is no border between the French and Dutch territories, and people may travel freely between both sides of the island.

Use our Visa Checker Tool to determine which travel documents are needed for your trip.

Visa difficulty index for Saint Martin

Accessibility: 4/5

Saint Martin does not require a visa for many visitors. However, those that do need a visa must apply via the nearest embassy or consulate.

Time to get your visa: 3/5

The visitor visa is usually processed between 7 and 10 days after the application date.

Costs: 3/5

The government visa fee depends on your nationality.

Typical costs and budget for Saint Martin

The daily budget for Saint Martin/Sint Maarten can vary depending on your travel style, preferences, and activities. Here are some estimated costs to help you plan your budget:

  • Daily spending - Around $100 per person per day. This includes:

  • Meals - Expect to spend $15 for a simple meal.

  • Transport - Expect to spend between $5-20 for daily transportation.

  • Hotel - The average hotel price in Saint Martin for a couple is $100 per night.

On average, a trip to Saint Martin for two people for one week will cost $1400.

Transport and best ways to travel around Saint Martin

It is relatively easy to travel to and around Saint Martin. Let’s explore!

Getting to Saint Martin by air or sea

Saint Martin is a Caribbean island located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The island is divided into two parts: the northern French side, Saint Martin, and the southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten.

To get to Saint Martin, you can either fly or take a boat. The island has an international airport, Princess Juliana International Airport, located on the Dutch side of the island. Many major airlines offer direct flights to Saint Martin from cities around the world:

  • American Airlines

  • Delta Air Lines

  • JetBlue

  • United Airlines

  • Air Canada

  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

  • Air France

  • Caribbean Airlines

Alternatively, you can take a cruise to Saint Martin. The island is a popular destination for many Caribbean cruise ships, and there are several cruise ports on the island.

Arrival and immigration tips for Saint Martin

Princess Juliana Airport is small, so it can get crowded when flights arrive at the same time. Here are some tips to make your arrival in Saint Martin as smooth as possible:

  • Check all entry and exit requirements, including visa information, before you go.

  • Before arriving in Saint Martin, research your transportation options from the airport to your accommodations. Taxis, rental cars, and shuttle buses are all available at the airport, but it's a good idea to make reservations in advance if possible.

  • There is currently only one luggage belt, so stay patient, and make sure your driver or shuttle knows what time your plane arrives.

Getting around Saint Martin

Saint Martin is a beautiful island with many things to see and do. Here are some ways to explore and get around the island:

  • Rent a car: A rental car is one of the most popular ways to explore Saint Martin. There are many car rental companies on the island, and renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Make sure to have an international driving permit.

  • Take a taxi: Taxis are readily available on Saint Martin, and they are a good option if you don't want to rent a car. Taxis are metered, and you can negotiate a price with the driver before starting your journey.

  • Use public transportation: The island has an affordable and convenient public bus system. The buses run regularly between major towns and attractions on the island.

  • Rent a scooter or bicycle: If you prefer a more adventurous way to explore the island, you can rent a scooter or bicycle. This is a great way to see the island's beautiful scenery and enjoy the fresh air.

  • Take a boat tour: Saint Martin is an island, so a boat tour is a great way to see the coastline and explore the surrounding waters. There are many boat tours available on the island, including snorkeling and scuba diving tours.

Safety in Saint Martin

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is generally a safe destination for tourists, but it's always important to take common-sense precautions to ensure your safety.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in tourist areas and at night.

  • Protect against mosquito bites: Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is a tropical island, and mosquitoes can be prevalent, so use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants in the evening.

  • Follow beach safety guidelines: Follow beach safety guidelines, such as avoiding swimming alone, obeying lifeguard instructions, and staying within designated swimming areas.

  • Drink responsibly: Be aware of your alcohol consumption and avoid excessive drinking, making you more vulnerable to accidents or crime.

Weather in Saint Martin

The best time to visit Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. During this time, the weather is generally warm and sunny with little rain, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the island.

The peak tourist season runs from December to March, so there will be plenty of activities, events, and attractions to enjoy during this time. However, keep in mind that prices for accommodations, flights, and other tourist services may be higher during this period.

Must do and see in Saint Martin

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is a beautiful and diverse island with many things to see and do. Here are the top 5 things to do and see on both sides:

  1. Explore the beaches: The entire island is known for its beautiful beaches, many of which offer crystal-clear water, soft sand, and stunning scenery. Some of the top beaches to visit include Orient Bay Beach, Simpson Bay Lagoon, Maho Bay Beach, and Mullet Bay.

  2. Visit the French side of the island: The island is divided into two territories: the French and the Dutch. The French side is known for its elegant architecture, fine dining, and upscale boutiques. Some of the top attractions on the French side include Marigot, Grand Case, and Fort Louis.

  3. Experience the Dutch side of the island: The Dutch side is known for its lively nightlife, casinos, and shopping. Some top attractions on the Dutch side include Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten, Mullet Bay, and the famous Maho Beach, where planes fly directly overhead.

  4. Take a boat tour: A boat tour is a great way to see the island from a different perspective and explore the surrounding waters. Many boat tours include snorkeling, swimming, and even visits to nearby islands such as Pinel Island, Anguilla, or St. Barths.

  5. Learn about the island's history and culture: Influenced by both French and Dutch traditions as well as Caribbean customs, some of the top cultural attractions on the island include the Heritage Collection Museum, the Guavaberry Emporium, and the Market at Marigot.

Typical Saint Martin food to try

Saint Martin is known for its delicious and diverse kitchen, infused with French cuisine, Caribbean flavors, and Dutch influences. Here are some of the best foods to try in Saint Martin:

  • Johnny cakes: Johnny cakes are a popular Caribbean breakfast food made from cornmeal and fried to a golden brown. They are often served with butter and jam or filled with meat or fish.

  • Creole seafood: Saint Martin is famous for its fresh seafood, often prepared in Creole style with a spicy tomato-based sauce. Lobster, conch, and red snapper are popular seafood dishes in Saint Martin.

  • Grilled meats: Grilled meats, such as chicken and pork, are also popular in Saint Martin. They are frequently marinated in a flavorful spice blend and served with rice and beans or plantains.

  • Accras: Accras are small fritters made from salt cod and spices. They are a popular snack or appetizer in Saint Martin and are typically served with a spicy dipping sauce.

Vaccine information for Saint Martin

Research which routine vaccines and COVID-19 measures are required to enter Saint Martin before booking your trip. We recommend you check all vaccine requirements and recommended medicine for Saint Martin on the CDC website.

The difference between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten

Saint Martin is the smallest inhabited island in the world, located northeast of the Caribbean Sea. What makes it an interesting destination is that two countries share the island.

To the north is the French side of the island called Saint Martin. To the south, which is the Dutch side of the island, they call it Sint Maarten. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Saint Martin.

Can I travel between both sides of Saint Martin, or do I need a passport or visa?

Tourists who will be flying to the island will land at Princess Juliana Airport International. This airport is on the Dutch side. You don’t have to worry about whether you want to visit the French or Dutch side of the island. You will only go through one airport.

There are no borders, customs, or passport checks between the two sides. You are free to explore the island, which will only take about 2 hours or less by car.

What are the differences between the two sides?

While there are no borders, the differences in culture can be seen clearly when visiting both sides. For example, Saint Martin combines its Caribbean identity with an authentic French influence. You’ll find shops selling croissants and people speaking French.

Likewise, the Dutch side mainly speaks Dutch, although the cultural influence is less. Other differences are that the Dutch side is more developed, while the French side is more known for its rugged nature.

Which side is better to visit on a holiday?

Determining whether the French side is better than the Dutch side depends on your preferences. Dutch Sint Maarten is popular because there are more amenities and services on this side.

On the other hand, those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere stay at French Saint Martin. It also has a more Caribbean feel, attracting tourists who want to avoid the crowds.

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  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: https://www.st-martin.org/us/travel-easy/formalities/

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