Saint Martin is the smallest island in the world that is divided between two nations – the northern half is French, known as Saint-Martin, while the southern half is Dutch, known as Sint Maarten. For over 350 years, the Dutch and French have peacefully coexisted on this tropical island in the northeast Caribbean that covers a total area of about 37 square miles.
While both sides speak English and accept US dollars, they still maintain separate identities influenced in large part by their European origins. On the French side, you’ll find plenty of fine French restaurants, sexy day-life at the world-famous nude beaches, and cute boutiques selling unique clothing and jewelry. The Dutch side features plentiful casinos, fun beaches, and festive nightlife.
Dutch Side – Philipsburg, French Side – Marigot
Dutch Side – est. 40,000; French Side – est. 35,000
You are likely to hear a variety of languages throughout your stay, including English (widely spoken), French, Dutch, and Spanish.
Entry requirements vary for each destination; it is your responsibility to verify you have the correct documents prior to travel. After 31 December 2006 a valid passport is required for travel to all the Caribbean and Mexico.
The official currency of the French side is the Euro, and on the Dutch side, it’s the Netherlands Antilles Guilder or ‘Florin’ (Naf). US dollars are accepted at the main hotels and restaurants on both sides of the island. On the French side, look out for stores and restaurants that take €- $1 to make the most of your dollar.
French side – generally 9am – 1pm and 3pm-7pm; Philipsburg – typically 9am – 6pm Mon-Sat.
Yes, we tip in St. Maarten/St. Martin. 10-15% is the norm, though you should check the bottom of your bill as a service charge may be automatically included.
Daytime attire is pretty casual, but keep bathing suits for the beach. In the evenings, you can put on something a little special for the finer restaurants and casinos. Jackets and ties are never necessary.
French side 220V, 60 Hz (Bring a converter if you’re coming from the US); Dutch side – 110V, 50 Hz (same as in US.)
Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Country codes are required except when calling within one side of the island; see “Telecommunications” below.
More About St. Martin/St. Maarten