Saint Martin Travel Guide
Everything you need to know before you fly to Saint Martin
About Saint Martin
The quintessential beach vacation. The gastronomic capital of the Caribbean. This is Saint Martin/Sint Maarten. Two cultures – one 34 square mile island. For over 350 hundred years, the French and Dutch have coexisted on this small island, living amicably and creating a tourist destination that is the Caribbean’s envy. The former home of the Arawak people, then the Carib tribe, the island was settled by Europeans in the mid-1600s.
There is so much to do on this unique island. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten has activities to suit absolutely everyone. Everything from swimming to diving to boating is available on most beaches (36 in all), but the most active beach is Orient Beach on the island’s Dutch side. Orient Beach offers what you imagine when you daydream about what a Caribbean vacation could be like turquoise water, white sand, and beach restaurants. You can Jet Ski, parasail, snorkel, and more.
The food in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is something you will not soon forget. From the French Marigot to the Dutch Phillipsburg, the cuisine on St. Martin/St. Maarten is unrivaled by any other island. The influences of both cultures are evident in their cuisine. The French side of the island offers a variety of gourmet foods. The chefs are influenced by traditional French and West Indian cooking and use fresh seafood and tropical fruit in their preparation. St. Martin also has fantastic food stands called lolos, where you can sample specialized food on the go. The Dutch side of the island is considered the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean. Worldwide cuisine such as Greek, Thai, Indian, German, and Indonesian are represented with impeccable flair. Much like the lolos on the French side, roadside grills dot the landscape on the Dutch side, offering savory barbeque and Johnny cakes for you to enjoy on the run. If you are looking for the daily catch, my favorite restaurant is Lee’s Roadside grill in Simpson Bay – their grilled lobster is to die for!
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten has it all. There isn’t anything you could think to do on vacation that can’t be done on this versatile island. You have to see it to believe it.
Where To Stay In Saint Martin
Visitors to Saint Martin stay in a wide variety of accommodations, including private rental, guesthouses, and luxurious all-inclusive hotels. Some of the best hotels in Saint Martin include:
- Belmond La Samanna
- L’Esplanade Hotel
- Grand Case Beach Club
- Hotel La Plantation
- Palm Court at Orient Beach Hôtel
- La Playa Orient Bay
- Le Petit Hotel
- Le Temps des Cerises
Activities Saint Martin
Major tourist activities for Saint Martin include:
- Touring the capital city of Marigot
- Exploring Loterie Farm, a 150-acre private nature reserve
- Hiking up to Fort Louis, constructed in 1767 to take in the magnificent views
- Swimming and relaxing at one or more of its beautiful white sand beaches, including IIet Pinel
- Snorkeling and diving at the more than 30 dive sites across the island
About Saint Martin
20 square miles
French & English
Overseas collectivity of France
Telephone Country Code:
right side of the road
Conch and dumplings
L’Esperance Airport (SFG)
220v/60Hz – power outlets and plugs of types C, F & E
Visa Information for Saint Martin
Saint Martin is a French Caribbean island, and as such, immigration rules for France apply. That said, visitors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom do not need a visa to visit Saint Martin.
All visitors to Saint Martin must have a valid passport. Furthermore, all visitors must have a return or onward ticket plus sufficient means to support themselves during their stay in Saint Martin.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Visa For Saint Martin
With a valid passport and supporting documents, it typically takes 15 to 20 business days for a French visa application to be processed by France’s nearest Embassy. An approved visa application grants entry to Saint Martin for three months.
Is It Safe In Saint Martin
Compared to major American and European cities, Saint Martin is relatively safe, and crime levels are low. That said, it is vital to be vigilant at all times, especially when away from the major hotels and tourist areas. Take sensible precautions to secure personal possessions, including wallets, purses, and handbags.
How To Get To Saint Martin
Most international visitors to Saint Martin arrive via the Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXM, ICAO: TNCM), located on Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island.
From Canada, book flights to Sint Maarten via:
- Air Canada (Seasonal): Toronto–Pearson
- Air Transat (Seasonal): Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
- Sunwing Airlines: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
- WestJet: Toronto–Pearson
From the United States, book flights to Sint Maarten via:
- American Airlines: Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia (Seasonal: New York–JFK)
- Delta Air Lines: Atlanta, New York–JFK
- JetBlue: Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK (Seasonal: Boston, Newark)
- Spirit Airlines: Fort Lauderdale
- United Airlines: Newark (Seasonal: Chicago–O’Hare, Washington–Dulles)
From Europe, book flights to Sint Maarten via:
- Air Caraïbes: Paris–Orly
- Air France: Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Within the Caribbean region, book flights to Sint Maarten via:
- Air Century: Santo Domingo–La Isabela
- Air Sunshine: Anguilla, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Nevis, St. Thomas, San Juan, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
- Caribbean Airlines: Port of Spain
- Coastal Air: Anguilla, Dominica–Canefield, Nevis, St. Croix, St. Eustatius
- Copa Airlines: Panama City–Tocumen
- Divi Divi Air : Curaçao
- Fly All Ways: Curaçao (Seasonal charter: Paramaribo)
- InterCaribbean Airways: Tortola
- KLM: Amsterdam
- Seaborne Airlines: San Juan
- Sky High Aviation Services: Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
- St Barth Commuter: St. Barthélemy
- Trans Anguilla Airways: Anguilla
- Winair: Antigua, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Dominica–Canefield, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Nevis, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port-au-Prince, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, San Juan, Santo Domingo–Las Américas, Tortola
Note: The airport on Saint Martin is L’Espérance Airport (IATA: SFG, ICAO: TFFG). Also known as Grand Case Airport, only regional airlines offer passenger services.
Within the Caribbean region, book flights to Saint Martin via:
- Air Antilles: Pointe-à-Pitre
- Air Caraïbes: Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre
- St Barth Commuter: Saint Barthélemy (Charter: Dominica-Canefield)
- Trans Anguilla Airways (Charter): Anguilla
When To Go To Saint Martin
The high season for Saint Martin is mid-December through mid-August when the weather is warm and sunny. It is also the most expensive time to visit Saint Martin, and good hotels are often booked far in advance. The low season is from mid-August to the end of October when temperatures are hot and humid, plus there is an increased risk of hurricanes. Some hotels close, and other offer discounts during this period.
Major events attracting visitors to Saint Martin include:
- January/February: Saint Martin Carnival
- March: Heineken Regatta
- April: Sint Marteen Carnival
- April: Sint Maarten Open Golf Tournament
- May: Fete du Nautisme
- June: Billfish Tournament
- July: Bastille Day
- November: Sint Maarten Day
Weather In Saint Martin
The weather in Saint Martin is warm year-round. The temperature stays in the 80°F all year and is cooled by trade winds. The wet season is June through December, coinciding with the hurricane season. The island is quite popular in March, with many events related to the Heineken Regatta and Sint Maarten Carnival. May through June is a great time to capitalize on reduced prices and quieter beaches. Also, November through early December is an excellent time to visit.
Getting Married In Saint Martin
Couples looking to get married in Saint Martin will need to apply to the President of the Territorial Council at least one month before the publication of the banns. The banns must be published in paper format at the Hotel de la Collectivite for ten days before preceding the day of the marriage ceremony.
In addition to the completed application for marriage, both the bride and groom will need their:
- birth certificates along with driver’s licenses or other forms of identification
- certificates of no impediment or single status report
Also, if applicable:
- divorce papers i.e., decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse
- proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor
- proof of name change by Deed Poll stamped and signed by a solicitor
Two witnesses are required. Foreign witnesses must present a valid passport or a birth certificate with a valid photo ID.
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