Island Informations

History...

According to the legend, Columbus discovered the island the feast day of St. Martin in 1493. During 140 years, the Spanish, French, and Dutch disputed the possession of St. Martin. After years of struggle, on March 23, 1648, a treaty was concluded atop Mount Concordia delineating the boundaries between the French and Dutch sides.

During the late 1700s and 1800s, the island lived on a colonial system based on sugarcane plantations and slavery. Once slavery was abolished (in 1848 on the French side and 1863 on the Dutch side) St. Martin's economy decreased deeply until 1939, when the island became a free port.

Thereafter, St. Martin developed as a hub of trade in the Caribbean, and when, in the late 50's the airport opened, the tourist economy has become the single most important economic activity.

Geographie

Located 18.5 North and 63.5 West, in the heart of the Caribbean, this small island shared between the French and the Dutch has been a prestigious tourist haven for years.

The total surface of the island is 37 square miles, 21 for the French side, and 16 for the Dutch side. There are approximately 35 000 inhabitants on each side of the island, and 82 nationalities are represented.
The capital of the Dutch side is Philipsburg and the capital of the French side is Marigot.

 

Climat

Tropical and constant all year long, the average temperature is around 80 F (25 C). Locals like to say with humor, there is a short season with heavy showers and a long season with short showers!

 

Currencies

Both sides have their own currency ( Euros and Netherlands Antilles Guilder), but U.S. Dollars are accepted everywhere.

It is very easy to exchange currencies in banks, hotels, and "Exchange Desks" or casinos.

 

Language

Both sides have their own official language (French and Dutch) but English is spoken everywhere.

 

Time

Atlantic time, one hour ahead of eastern standard time; the same as daylight savings time during the summer.

 

Transportation

Inside St. Martin: Getting around St. Martin is not difficult. The main road completely encircles the island, making it virtually impossible to get lost. There are no customs formalities between both sides of the island.
A large variety of modes of transportation are available.
Public buses run regularly between the island's two capitals and different areas for a moderate fee. Taxis are also available but a bit more expensive. Rent a car is the easiest and the most convenient way to discover St. Martin. The major car rental agencies are located in Marigot, Philipsburg, hotel's desks and airports. You need a valid U.S. driver's license and a major credit card or cash deposit. Scooters, bicycles and motorbikes are also available but due to the hilly terrain and narrow roads it is recommended these modes of transportation to experienced riders only. Drive on the right-hand side of the road on the entire island.

 

How to get there

The Princess Juliana Airport is located on the Dutch side and is serviced by many major carriers.
For local fights you can also choose Grand Case Airport located on the French side.

 

Shopping

As St. Martin is a true duty-free island, you will find many goods at very low prices. Cigarettes, liquor, electronics, jewelry, cosmetics, French and European designer clothing, perfumes,... are available in Marigot and Philipsburg at lower prices than those in the States. Remember to check with your customs' authorities what you are allowed to bring back home duty-free.

Local Attractions

A five minute drive brings you to the Grand Case Village also called the Restaurant Capital of the Caribbean.
A wide variety of restaurants awaits you. A few kilometers away, the French town of Marigot offers all types of facilities and services: Banks, Post, Office, Businesses, Duty, ree Shopping, Marina.

Night time activities

St. Martin is well-known in the Caribbean for its restaurants.
You can choose among a huge variety of cuisine and have a different style every night.
It is recommended that you to try the traditional Creole food and eat in a French gastronomic restaurant in Grand Case ; this village on the French side is called the Restaurant Capital of the Caribbean.

Gambling is one of the most important night time activities and there is a wide choice of casinos all located in the Dutch side.

Both sides offer you different styles of discotheques that satisfy all kinds of night clubbers.