St. Martin Guide
Know Before You Go...®
When you come to St. Martin, you have a unique mix of laid-back Caribbean lifestyle and exciting, fast-paced opportunities to party. That’s because the island is actually divided into two parts, with the French side enjoying a slower pace and the Dutch side offering up action. From a villa here, you can enjoy them both, and the information contained on these pages will help you plan a trip to St. Martin that will give you the best of both worlds.
Why St. Martin?
- St. Martin is the smallest landmass in the world to be divided between two different countries.
- St. Martin is known for its beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and abundance of aquatic life.
- St. Martin is home to the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1738.
- The cuisine of St. Martin is an interesting mix of French, Dutch and Caribbean influences.
- The island is a popular destination for sailing, kite-surfing and windsurfing.
St. Martin Weather/Climate
Before Columbus arrived here during his second voyage in 1493, the island had already been inhabited for some one thousand years.
The Arawak Indians settled on the island around 800 AD. This tribe arrived from the Orinoco river basin of South America and migrated up the chain of Caribbean islands. They named the island “Sualouiga” or ” Land of Salt ” for the abundant salt-pans and salty water that were found in abundance. Artifacts from the Arawak civilization can be viewed at the St. Martin Museum.
The few fresh water springs around Paradise Peak, Mount William, Billy Folly, and in the Lowlands could only support a small population, and this is where they mainly tended to congregate. You can find a number of artifacts from this period preserved in the St. Martin Museum: On the Trail of the Arawaks.
Centuries following, the aggressive, cannibal, Amazonian Carib Indians settled on the island and named the island “Soualiga” or “Salt Island” after the island’s most prevalent mineral resource. This tribe migrated from North America and is what the entire Caribbean is so named after.
According to island legend, on November 11, 1493, Christopher Columbus claimed the island (but did not set foot) for Spain on his second voyage, then proclaiming it St. Maarten from the religious day of St. Martin of Tours. To this day, St. Maarten celebrates this day as St. Martin/St. Maarten’s Day.
The Dutch settled on the island in 1631 to set a post between their other two territories in Brazil and Nieue Amsterdam ( New York ). The Spanish overthrew the Dutch government, leaving. However, the Dutch did not heed in the reacquisition of this island and unsuccessfully raided the island for the next 15 years. After a notably hard-hitting victory to remain on the island, the Spanish Commander, asked permission to abandon the island and in 1647, the King of Spain granted him permission.
According to legend, some Dutch and French were left behind by the Spanish and established small villages throughout the island. The Dutch and French joined forces to keep the Spanish from settling on the island. This was finally achieved in 1644 when the Spanish abandoned their claims to the Eastern Caribbean.
Today, tourism is the island’s primary source of income. Princess Juliana Airport was established in 1943. The first hotel opened on the island in 1947, the Sea View. The Dutch started promoting tourism in the 1950s while the French didn’t publicize until the 1970s.
St.Martin (French) is a commune of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas department of France. Islanders are entitled to vote in French elections.
Speed down the world's steepest zip line!
The Flying Dutchman is found in the Rockland Estate eco-adventure park operated by Rainforest Adventures, which also has a restaurant, the Schooner inner tube track, and equally-exhilarating canopy tour on site. To access the zip line, guests take the Sky Explorer chairlift all the way up Sentry Hill, and arrive to find a series of wooden walkways leading to what are hands-down the best views on the entire island. The panoramic vantage points look down over all of St Maarten and St. Martin, and even out to neighbouring islands like Anguilla, Saba and St. Barths. Then, up to four riders at a time are strapped into harnesses attached to the line, and suddenly find themselves zooming straight back down the hill!
You can't miss the culture at Orient Bay...from windsurfing to
Orient Bay is the most developed and popular beach on St. Martin. The bay stretches for 2 miles and divided into 5 main beaches all side-by-side -- Kontiki, Kakao, Bikini Beach, Waikiki and Coco Beach (named for their respective bars). Recognized as a marine reserve, and protected by Atlantic winds, Orient Bay is a fabulous spot for snorkeling. You can also go parasailing, waterskiing or just rent a beach chair and soak up the sun. You'll see some topless sunbathers. There are a bunch of restaurants, live music and local hangouts. Another attraction is the nude beach and St. Martin's only naturist resort at the south end of Orient Bay.
Nightlife on St. Martin extends in to the wee hours of the morning at the casinos in Cupecoy.
Casino Royale in St Maarten is the largest on the island, boasting 14,000 square feet of gaming and a full theater for events and shows. With 30 tables of gaming, you can choose from roulette (American and French), craps, baccarat, blackjack and poker (Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Poker and Texas Hold em). The 400 slot machines include a variety of classics and modern video slots. Casino Royale also has a private "high-roller" area with the highest table limits on the island. Open every day from 1 pm to 4 am, gambling is made easy any time you feel a surge of luck come on. Rhine Road #1, Maho Bay, St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Transportation on St. Martin
Getting to St. Martin and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens need a valid passport, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to enter either St Maarten or St Martin; a return ticket or proof of onward travel is also required. No visa is necessary for a stay of up to three months.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months. A return ticket or proof of onward travel is required. This applies to both Dutch and French national sectors of the island.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens need a valid passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to enter either St Maarten or St Martin, and a return ticket or proof of onward travel is required. No visa is required for a stay of up to 14 days.
Airlines Flying Here
- American Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Anguilla Air Services
- Caribbean Airlines
- French Bee
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
There is a US$30.00 per person. Payment is required before boarding and they will only accept cash or traveler’s checks. Some airlines have already incorporated the departure tax into the price of the ticket. If you are not sure, check with your airline.
On the right. A valid foreign or international driver’s license is required for car rentals, but a temporary St. Martin/St. Maarten driver’s license is not issued.
- In roundabouts, vehicles in the center have the right of way.
- It is illegal to turn right on a red light.
- Not all roads on the island have signs so be particularly sensitive to landmarks.
- Always check your side mirror before making a turn. Scooters/motorcycles have a tendency to pass by driving down the middle of the road. While it is not legal in theory, it can be rather crazy if you are not aware!
- Children under 12 must ride in the back seat.
Roads are generally in good condition. Taxi’s are available within Phillipsburg and Marigot, but generally do not know where villas are located. Recommend working with your villa specialist or manager to make private taxi arrangements. Uber/Lyft are not on-island.
St. Martin Weddings and Honeymoons
Vacationers don’t just stay in St. Martin villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Dutch - Passports, birth certificates and two photo ID’s. If necessary proof of divorce and/or death certificates, names of parents, maiden names of mothers, place and dates of birth. Requests must be made 14 days in advance, and divorced women may not marry until 306 days have passed since getting their divorce finalized.
French - Passports, birth certificate; surname, names, date and place of birth of the father and mother of the future spouses; surname, names, date and place of birth of the witnesses as well as their addresses and professions. A letter that has been signed and dated by the future spouses and addressed to the President of the Territorial Council requesting that he apply article 58 of the Law n 2009-594 of May 27, 2009 on a specific date, which should be indicated in the letter. Because there is a minimum of one month wait period before getting married on St. Martin, most couples choose to marry on the St. Maarten side of the island.
Know Before You Go...® - St. Martin Travel Tips
Before making their way to St. Martin villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in St. Martin even more relaxing.