Saint Martin – Saint Martin Island in the Caribbean Sea

St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a small island in the Caribbean archipelago, washed by the restless Atlantic Ocean to the east and the calm Caribbean Sea to the west. St. Maarten is the smallest inhabited island in the world and is governed by two independent states, Holland and France. Its southern part belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is called St Maarten. But the northern territories and a number of adjacent islands are the French Overseas Community and part of the European Union. This peaceful coexistence of European powers has lasted for 350 years.

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Video: St. Maarten

Tourists

The friendliness of the Dutch and French and the carefree atmosphere of St. Maarten have contributed to the symbiosis of cuisine, architecture and philosophy of the islanders. Life on the island is filled with harmony, and the boundaries between the two neighboring states are more of a convention. The French influence on St. Maarten is mainly due to its cultural heritage, while the Dutch are heavily involved in the promotion of the island, which is why there are many resorts and gambling is allowed on the island.

Both capitals (Marigot and Filipsburg) are home to many fine restaurants, fashionable stores and a variety of entertainment venues, so you won’t get bored. There are also plenty of great white sand beaches for relaxing and active holidays.

Climate and weather

The island has a tropical climate, and as a result, the weather is dry and very warm all year round. During the summer season, daytime temperatures range from +27. +32 °С, and practically never fall below +24 … +25 °С in winter. Average annual precipitation on the island is about 1000-1150 mm. The rainiest months are September and November, and the driest are February, March and April.

The most favorable time to travel to St. Maarten is from mid-December to April.

Nature

St. Maarten is located in the Caribbean Sea and is part of the Lesser Antilles. St. Maarten is the tip of an ancient underwater volcano, which has a rounded shape. Its coastline is framed by a series of shallow coral reefs with shallow lagoons.

In general, the topography of St. Maarten is hilly, its highest point being Peak Paradise.

The island’s landscapes are dominated by greenery, but soils are dry: palms, cacti and hibiscus make up the bulk of the local flora. Although there are a few small forests in the central areas. St Maarten also boasts more than 30 snow-white beaches with clear waters.

The animal life of the island is quite poor and is mainly represented by birds and lizards, as well as feral domestic animals.

Attractions

Despite the fact that St. Maarten is under the control of two different states, their borders are conditional, so tourists can freely explore all the sights of the island.

The only city in the Dutch part of the island is Philipsburg, whose buildings are recognized as classic examples of early colonial architecture.

These are mostly buildings with red-and-white facades and steep tiled roofs. Among the city’s main attractions are the Queen Wilhelmina Monument, nine small churches, and Watney Square. Equally interesting are Fort Willem and Fort Amsterdam.

Also worth a visit is the St. Maarten Museum, with its collection of ancient finds and objects from the wreck of the frigate Proselita.

Well, the main point of pride of the inhabitants of Phillipsburg are botanical garden and a small but very beautiful zoo.

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Outside the city you can also find remarkable places and objects. First and foremost are the Cole Bay Hill Lookout Tower and the gorgeous Dawn Beach.

The French part of the island is less bustling, and its capital city, Marigot, is a true example of fine style. The most popular place in the city is Republic Street with its charming buildings that create a romantic atmosphere.

The main historical monument of Marigot is the ancient fortress called Fort Louis, from the walls of which you can enjoy a stunning view of the coast.

Among the other interesting objects are the Museum of History and Culture of Saint Martin, the courthouse Rue de la Liberté, the gallery “Loulou” and the cultural and historical museum “In the footsteps of the Arawaks”.

The remains of the sugar plantation La Sucrerie and the picturesque Paradis Peak as well as the typical Creole village of Colombier, the gastronomic capital of Grand Caz, the small forest reserve of Loteri Farm and the amazing Butterfly Farm are definitely worth seeing in the outskirts of the city.

Although the island is separated by two states, they have one landmark in common that symbolizes their peaceful coexistence. It is the Border Monument, which is set atop a small mountain called Concordia.

Kitchen

St. Maarten’s cuisine is as interesting as the island itself. It is based on a mixture of European, Creole and Caribbean traditions, and it is based on the seafood that abounds in the surrounding waters. Thus, the most popular and widespread dishes here are prepared from lobsters, shrimp, lobsters, various shells, sea fish and seaweed. The most interesting dishes of the local cooks are lobster fried on coals, boiled shrimps with greens, fish-coconut soup sopi-di-pisca, fish meatballs crokeshi, wine soup sopi-di-binja and whole fried wahoo.

Among the meat dishes, the most common are pastesis, lamb stew cabrito stoba, meatloaf ajakas, cactus and fish soup hobi dochi, spicy beefsteak with lemon. As a side dish, the most common choices are fresh vegetables, green beans, boiled rice, and a variety of sauces.

Local desserts are also interesting, such as johnny-cake, pan-bati cakes, potato pudding pudindi potato, caramel quesio and cokada lollipops. All these treats are washed down with tea and freshly squeezed juices. As for alcohol, all kinds of local and imported drinks are available. The island also produces such first-class beers as Heineken, Balashi and Amstel. But the main local drink is Guavaberry, made from Caribbean rum, sugar and rare berries that only ripen in August.

Ironically, the best restaurants on the island are not in Marigot or Phillipsburg, but in the small town of Grand Caz, which is recognized as the gastronomic capital of St. Maarten. This is where the best restaurants of St. Maarten are located, offering exquisite French cuisine and the best French wines.

Hotels

The choice of hotels in St. Maarten is huge, but in high season (December to April) rooms should be booked in advance, otherwise you may have problems finding accommodation. Also in high season you should not be surprised by rather high prices, as this place is a popular international resort.

Almost all hotels in St. Maarten can boast an impeccable quality of service and excellent living conditions. The most luxurious establishments are located not in the cities, but outside of them on the coast. Such hotels are large complexes with swimming pools, restaurants, spas, etc.

If you want you can not settle in a hotel, and rent an apartment in one of the capitals (from $ 1,200 per week) or a villa on the coast (from $ 3,500 per week).

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Entertainment and Recreation

First of all, guests of St. Maarten is offered a stunning selection of active entertainment: windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, diving, boat rides and sailing, jungle safaris, fishing, horseback riding, tennis, golf, picnics, or just relaxing on the beach.

Quite a variety of “partying” life of the island, as closer to night, there are nightclubs and bars, and on the Dutch territory and the casino. And the local clubs are so diverse that one can even hear such styles as merengue, jazz and zouk, while the best restaurants feature classical music by Frank Sinatra and other all-time greats.

Special mention should be made of the snow-white beaches of the island. Among them the most popular are Great Bay, Long Bay, Anse Marcel, Cupecoy, Maho Beach, Simpson Bay and many others. In total, the island has about 40 beaches, many of them packed with bars, restaurants and gift stores. Apart from the beaches, there are large holiday areas with all the amenities you need for a splendid holiday. On the French territory you can find beaches for nudists, among which the most famous is considered Orient Bay.

Another plus vacation in St. Maarten is duty free shopping in both capitals of the island, which just replete with a variety of stores and boutiques. And for the last resort, it is recommended to take part in one of the local festivals, like the Carnival in February.

Shopping

St. Maarten is recognized as one of the most popular places for shopping in the region. The fact is that both parts of the island are a duty-free zone. Thus, there are more than 500 Duty Free stores, which offer a huge selection of electronics, watches, jewelry, crystal, French perfumes, fashionable clothes, Havana cigars and the best vintage wines.

The premier shopping destination in Phillipsburg is Front Street, where you’ll find so many stores and stalls that draw you in with their bright showcases. It’s also home to trendy boutiques selling clothes from the world’s leading labels. And on Sundays, Phillipsburg has a market offering interesting handicrafts.

The French city of Marigot also abounds with many interesting stores, fashion boutiques and luxury jewelry salons offering watches and jewelry of the most prestigious brands. In addition, Marigot has a huge market where you can buy the most unusual tropical fruits, fresh seafood and fragrant spices. There are also sold original souvenirs made by local craftsmen.

Transport

On the island is located Princess Juliana International Airport (on its Dutch part). It should be noted that it is not entirely convenient, since it is located close to the beach, which often results in planes flying literally over the heads of vacationers.

Traffic in St. Maarten is right-handed, the roads are quite narrow, and sometimes not very good quality.

Public transport on both halves of the island is represented by cabs and buses. Buses are minivans, which can get you to any part of the island for a small fee. However, the border between the Dutch and French territories is rather conventional. And by cab you can go around the entire island for just 25 dollars. Such a relatively low price is not due to low fares, but the very small size of St. Maarten. In addition, most local cab drivers are happy to provide their services as a guide (about $50 per hour).

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You can rent any car from one of the international companies, of which there are quite a few. It is also possible to rent a yacht, scooter, motorcycle, ATV or scooter if you wish.

Communications

The island has a high-quality and well-developed communication system. Automatic telephone machines, from which you can make an international call, installed in all towns and all public places. All machines work with several types of telephone cards. The most common is the CaribTel card, which fits almost all telephones. These cards are sold in post offices, supermarkets, newsstands and telephone company offices. Also, any call can be made from the post office or from a hotel, but in the latter case, the cost of an international call will be significantly more expensive. Note that calls between French and Dutch parts of St. Maarten are considered international.

Cell phone service in St. Maarten operates in the standard GSM 900/1800, it has good quality and covers the entire island. International roaming service is available to all subscribers of major Russian operators.

Internet access is available in Internet cafes, the cost of a session depends on the speed of connection and an average of $ 5-10 per hour.

Security

In general, St. Maarten is characterized by a fairly low level of crime, but pickpocketing still occur here.

For this reason, you should follow all common safety rules, especially the beaches, the airport and public institutions. Theft from cars is also common on the island.

No special vaccinations are required to travel to the island of St. Maarten. Vaccinations against polio, typhoid and hepatitis are recommended, although there are no natural outbreaks of these diseases.

The town’s tap water has been purified and is safe to drink, but bottled water is advised for the first few days.

Business

The advantage of St. Maarten is its economic security and stability, as well as the fact that the entire island is a duty-free zone. The economy of both parts of the island as a whole depends on the tourism business, so a lot of money is invested in the development of infrastructure.

This area is the main source of income of the French territory. And the Dutch part of St. Maarten is an offshore zone, where many different foreign companies are registered. There is also no tax on any property and income from its sale.

Real estate

St. Maarten offers a wide range of real estate, which provides for both personal use, and for business. And here they can own it not only locals but also foreign citizens.

In the Netherlands there are no restrictions on the purchase of real estate by non-residents, and to formalize the transaction it is enough to show your passport. The transfer of ownership of any property is carried out through a professional notary. This applies to both the French and the Dutch part of the island.

The most prestigious and expensive real estate on the island are luxurious villas on the coast. The cost of such properties starts at $750,000 and can go up to $3,000,000. Typically, the price depends on the location and size of the villas.

This area is the main source of income of the French territory. And the Dutch part of St. Maarten is an offshore zone, where many different foreign companies are registered. There is also no tax on any property and income from its sale.

Customs restrictions

The amount of exported and imported currency is not limited in any way, but the amount of more than 7000 € must be necessarily declared.

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Duty free import of 1 liter of spirits (over 22°), up to 200 pieces of cigarettes, 100 grams of any tea, 500 grams of natural coffee and 50 milliliters of perfume are permitted.

The import and export of items of historical value, psychotropic substances, drugs, ammunition and weapons, endangered plants and animals is prohibited. Banned for entry plants, animals, any products of animal origin and vegetables from Haiti, as well as silverware and coins from Suriname and Holland.

Russian citizens to travel to St. Maarten require a visa, which can be obtained at the embassy of France or the Kingdom of the Netherlands (depending on which country the hotel is located).

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is located in Moscow at 6, Kalashny Lane. You can also go to the Consulate General in St. Petersburg: 11, Moika Embankment. However, a visa issued for visiting St. Maarten does not entitle you to visit the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and holders of Schengen visas for a trip to St. Maarten must obtain a separate visa.

French Embassy in Moscow is located at Bolshaya Yakimanka Street, 45. The Consulate General is located in St. Petersburg at: 15, Moika Embankment. A visa issued for a trip to St. Maarten does not entitle the holder to stay in France and the Schengen area.

St. Maarten

Isle of St. Maarten

The tropical island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean Sea is a haven of serenity. At least, so believe those who have seen its photos. As well as those who were lucky enough to get here. And pose on the background of landing airliners on the famous beach Maho. But first things first.

Brief information

St. Maarten is a small piece of land with an area of about 87 km2. It is located in the Caribbean Sea about 300 km strictly to the east of the island of Puerto Rico. It is famous as an excellent seaside resort. Next door (north across the strait) is the British Anguilla, also an unusual place for seaside recreation. To the south is the French St. Barthélemy and the independent state of St. Kitts and Nevis.

St. Maarten is not an island in itself, but belongs to two European countries. The north belongs to France, the south to the Netherlands. The border between the parts, as in the European Union is absent – there is only a border post. Near which tourists love to be photographed.

The capitals of St. Maarten: Marigot (French) and Philipsburg (Dutch), the total population does not exceed 80 thousand people.

St. Maarten on the map

St. Maarten’s main airport – the one whose photos with planes landing right above the beach have long been a classic – Princess Juliana, is located in the Dutch part. In a year it receives from 1.5 to 2 million passengers, most of whom are Americans.

Russians on the island – not frequent guests. First – expensive. Secondly and long, there are no direct air routes.

St. Maarten is not part of the Schengen area. But for Russians to visit it enough Schengen “Multik” – if they enter the Dutch territory. With the French half is more complicated: to visit the overseas territories requires a special visa. One should apply to embassies, consulates, visa centers of France.

Passengers of cruise vessels, regularly calling at the island, do not need visas at all. But to become a member of a cruise at least you will have to get a U.S. visa. Since most Caribbean voyages start from Florida.

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Beaches

St. Maarten’s most famous beaches are in Dutch territory, in the southwest corner of the island. They are: Maho and Mallet Bay. Both are adjacent to the airport, but Maho is especially popular! Everyone wants to take a picture of an airplane landing.

Flight schedules can be found right on the beach. Advanced tourists use and wi-fi, which “gets” here from the hotels. To make a good shot of the plane landing right on your head, you should have an expensive camera, as the duration of the attraction is a second. You need to watch out that the air jet from the turbines does not blow something important into the sea.

Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Quieter beaches, aimed at sedate tourists with money are in the French part. For example: Orient Beach.

Hotels

Currency and Prices 2019

It would be logical if all calculations in such a place took place in euros. But no: take and dollars, since most vacationers – Americans. In the southern part of the prices are in NAF (Dutch Antilles guilder) and parallel in USD.

On French territory it is accepted to pay in euros. Although the U.S. currency is accepted.

The prices are quite European. A light lunch at “fast-food” – $ 7-10, at a restaurant of average hand – $ 20 per person. A bottle of water – 1.5-2, beer – from 3.5, wine – from $ 8-10 per bottle.

Features

Drugs on the island – even light – is prohibited – this is not Amsterdam. And here prostitution is legalized – this is not France!

Sockets are powered “European” 220V on the French side, and 120V – on the Dutch side. Without a special adapter, you can’t charge your smartphone or laptop.

St. Maarten, which produces nothing of its own, except spicy sauces and cocktails, has a duty-free zone. And it’s easy to bring back something inexpensive, like a nice bottle of Jamaican rum.

Weather

When to go to St. Maarten? Most believe that in the period from January to March, when rainfall is minimal and sunny days, on the contrary – the maximum. However, and tourists at this time so many that the Russian Anapa envy.

In general, the island is characterized by a stable tropical climate with slight variations throughout the year. From +24 to +32 – this is the standard air temperature. The wet season begins in May and lasts until the New Year. The rains are torrential in nature and end quickly.

The water temperature in St. Maarten ranges from +26-28 degrees year-round.

St. Maarten, photo by Clavius66

August through November can be especially wet. Hurricane season peaks in August and September, though tropical storms also occur in June and July.

Late fall is bad because instead of sand on the beaches suddenly “grow” huge boulders. For example, such a surprise of nature is typical for the beach Maho.

How to get there

The easiest way – first get to Orly in Paris. And from there take a direct flight to the airport of Princess Juliana. Prices are estimated here: www.aircaraibes.com.

Another option is to transit via Amsterdam. KLM flies regularly on this route and tickets cost from 546 to 704 €.

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