Saint Martin Travel InformationGet answers to frequently asked questions about traveling to
St. Martin/Saint Maarten and renting Villa Belle Mer.
10. Friendly. People in St. Martin are friendly - they are even extra courteous while driving making road travel stress-free.
9. European/Caribbean Culture with American Comforts - Foreign enough to be exotic, but English is the most common language and the U.S. dollar the usual currency.
8. Best Port for Yachts - Beautiful boats and yachts line the expansive marinas in St. Martin making for an idyllic setting.
7. Close to U.S.- St. Martin is very close to the U.S. and from Florida just over a 2 hour flight.
6. Most Cosmopolitan Island on Earth - Only 37 square miles, but 2 nations and over 80 nationalities. Showing the world that we all can get along.
5. Instant Island Addiction - Most visitors come back every year.
4. Best Caribbean Shopping - You find duty free bargains everywhere in St. Martin. Look for jewelry, perfumes, liquors, tobacco products and much more.
3. Best Nightlife - There are clubs for every taste and 12 casinos providing nonstop action for the party crowd (drinking age 18).
2. Best Dining - Known as the Caribbean gourmet island, St. Maarten/St. Martin might be a culinary world leader with its restaurant selection.
1. Great Beaches - From an active beach scene to remote stretches of sand, the island has it all; year around sunshine.
Princess Juliana International Airport - 30 minutes
Phillipsburg - Capital of Dutch Side - Great for shopping and casinos - 25 min.
Marigot - Capital of the French Side - Great shopping and food/wine - 15 min.
Grand Case - Culinary capital of the Caribbean - Over 40 fabulous restaurants - 5 min.
Orient Bay Village - Restaurants and sundries - 2 min. drive - 10 min. walk
Orient Beach - Windsurfing, boat rides, jet skis and bars/restaurants lining the beach. - 400 yards.
Saint Maarten and Saint Martin are on Atlantic Standard Time and the island does not observe daylight-saving time.
Clocks on the island are set on the same time as Eastern Daylight Time during the summer months, and in the winter St Maarten and St Martin are an hour ahead. In the fall and winter, noon on Saint Martin would be 1:00 p.m. in New York. Also, in the summer months, the time on the island is five hours behind England and six hours behind France as well as the rest of western Europe.
Here are some of the corresponding times in major cities around the world that of Saint Maarten and Saint Martin:
The weather in St Martin is really nice and fairly consistent year-round with temperatures not varying much within a 5-degree range. Although people generally assume it’s going to be much hotter in the summer than in the winter months, that is generally not the case. Daytime highs near the coastal areas range from about 72 to 86 degrees. If you’re headed inland, average high temperatures year-round range from 66 to 81. So it is never cold and never too hot.
The Marigot Market
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, an open-air market is set up along the wharves on the Blvd. de France, offering a colorful array of homegrown produce, tropical fruits and spices, and freshly caught fish. It is a perfect opportunity for mingling, people watching, and just sampling the food. Across from the market are the "Lolo's", featuring arts, crafts and local restaurants.
St.Martin Museum, "On The Trail Of The Arawaks"
At the southern end of Marigot, next to the Marina Port la Royale, is a museum dedicated to preserving St Martin's history and culture. A new building houses a variety of pre-Colombian treasures unearthed by the Hope Estate Archaeological Society. Among these are a reproduction of the 1,500 year old burial mound that was only discovered in 1994, artifacts dating back as far as 1800 BC, and some beautifully adorned ceramics from around 550 BC. A colonial exhibit details the history of the plantation and slavery period, and early 20th Century photographs provide glimpses into the island's modern development. It is open daily free of charge. Open from 9 am to 4 pm entrance fee is € 5.00 (Tel: 0590 29-48-36)
The capital city of Marigot is perhaps the most French in spirit of all the cities in the Caribbean. Colonial houses stand beside cafés, bistros, pastry shops and luxury boutiques. In many ways it looks just like any of the French market towns you might expect to find on the Continent. A newly-built shopping center is at the foot of Fort St. Louis and houses luxurious boutiques such as Chanel and Lacoste. At the southern end of town down by the harbor is the Marina Port la Royale, elegant stores with the latest in European designer fashions and fine jewelry, all free of tax. It is very easy to travel within the city as it is only four streets wide.
The sweeping curve of the beach at Grand Case near the northern tip of the island shelters a little fishing village that is considered the gourmet capital of the Caribbean - It is also known for its distinctive style of architecture. Elaborate carvings called gingerbread style, adorn the fronts of the small wooden houses painted in pastel colors, and the effect is truly charming. Some of the island's best restaurants also happen to be located in this area, including local dishes at barbecue stands called Lolo's and souvenir shops. There is also a wonderful gourmet shop that sells both American and hard to find good wines, cheeses and prepared meals as well.
Halfway between Marigot and Grand Case lies the picturesque setting of Colombier, a sumptuous green valley lush with tropical vegetation and sinking gently between rolling green hills. It is one of the most beautiful and most peaceful spots in St Martin, perfect for private walks and quiet relaxation. There is also a newly opened watermelon plantation, where the fruit is used to prepare liqueur, deserts and other treats.
Rising from the center of St Martin at a height of 1,400 feet stands Pic Paradis, the highest point on the whole island. Climbing to the top, where there are two observation decks, provides a spectacular view of the scenery and the tropical forest below. You can also try the FLYZONE (Tel. 0590-87-86-16)
Fort St. Louis
Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side of the island sits the imposing figure of Fort St. Louis, the largest historical monument in Saint Martin. Named for the famous crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders. The plans were sent over directly from Versailles at the order of the ill-fated French king, Louis XVI. Following the events of 1789, the fort was temporarily occupied by the Dutch to prevent the further spread of revolutionary democracy which had reached the island from Guadeloupe. Now, it no longer serves its former purpose, but the steep climb up to the summit provides a panoramic view of the island and the sea surrounding it, and the effort is well rewarded. The area is open 24/7 and there are signs explaining historical events.
Atop this mountain, located right on the border between St Martin and St Maarten, the original treaty dividing the island in two was signed by the French and Dutch. There are also the ruins of the old sugar plantation "La Sucrerie".
Butter Fly Farm
At the Butter Fly Farm you can walk amongst the rare and exotic butterflies, from around the world flying freely in the tropical paradise, with music, flowers and fresh waterfalls.
Visiting Hours: 9am to 3pm
Orleans, The French Quarter
The quiet little fishing village of Orleans, also called the French Quarter, is located on the eastern side of the island just north of the border with Saint Maarten. It was the original settlement of the French in St Martin and some of the original 17th-century structures are still preserved here. This part of the island has not been developed extensively, so much of the old atmosphere has remained unspoiled. There are only a few residences here today, together with a few small shops.
Travelers can also always consult the State Department (http://travel.state.gov) for their general guidelines for a safe trip abroad (http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html). The following is a list of important safety contacts while staying in St. Martin and Sint Maarten.
Staying safe while on vacation can be, for the large part, a matter of taking the same precautions you would when traveling to any major city or foreign place.
Yes, everything is provided.
For car rental and chauffer services we use a few excellent rental companies who are available for dependable airport pickup and transportation to the villa and excellent chauffer service for all activities, including grocery shopping during your stay. There are also car rental agencies available to rent your own car. One service you may use is Noel Taxi at 011-599-5273187.
Local calls are free and phone cards can be purchased at various stores on the island. We also have free WI-FI if you are traveling with your laptop.
There are companies on the island that provide chef services. We can make that information available to you.
To rent Villa Belle Mer,
a luxury Orient Beach vacation home, contact