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ABOUT SINT MAARTEN/SAINT MARTIN

The Caribbean island of Sint Maarten (Dutch) and Saint Maarten Martin (French) is the only land border shared by these two countries is the world - it is also the smallest sea island divided between two countries, a division dating back to 1684. The Capitol and main city of Dutch St Maarten is Philipsburg (the main cruise ship port is located in this town) - on the French side, it's Marigot. Both towns are bustling with sidewalk cafes/bistro's, high-end duty-free shops, art galleries, smaller local stores and ethnic food vendors to name a few. If you are looking for something other than a typical day relaxing at the beach, then it is definitely worth it to check out what each of these towns has to offer visitors. On the French side, be sure not to miss the Royal Port Marina at night (also in Marigot). Watch luxury yachts pull in, have dinner in one of many traditionally French restaurants nestled along the marina walkway, explore the fine art galleries or enjoy a cocktail at one of the local bars.

View of Simpson Bay Lagoon

GETTING TO ST MAARTEN/ST MARTIN

The Princess Juliana International Airport is located in Dutch Sint Maarten (Airport Code SXM). There are a host of airlines that offer service to St Maarten. From the United States, they are American, US Air, United, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue and Spirit Airlines. From France and other European countries, there are Air France, Air Caraibes, Corsairfly, KLM, Air Canada and Air Transat.

All Non-Dutch citizens will need a valid passport to enter into St Maarten (French citizens will also need a valid passport, as your country of arrival is Dutch owned, not French). Customs is considerably easy and involves random searches with individuals pressing a button - a green light means go through and a red light means that they will search your personal belongings.

In addition to the Princess Juliana International Airport, there is a smaller regional airport on the French Side called the Grande Case Regional Airport (Airport Code CCE). This is mostly used for French and other European citizens coming to French St. Martin as well as smaller flights to nearby islands, such as St Barth's, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana.

Sint/St Maarten on the Dutch
Saint/St Martin on the French Side

CURRENCY

While St Maarten is Dutch owned, surprisingly the most widely accepted form of currency is the US$. As a US Citizen, there is no need to exchange your US$ for another form of currency. On the French side, the standard is the Euro and while most businesses accept the US$, you will be subject to conversion rates. While the currency exchange rates change daily, as of August 2015 the exchange of Euro to US$ was €1 = $1.11 (it is always best to check out an online currency converter for the most up-to-date exchange rates).

A CULINARY EXPERIENCE

As a culinary destination, this island does not disappoint, with over 500 restaurants on both sides of the island, St Maarten/St Martin will undeniably delight the most sophisticated of taste buds. For a true culinary experience, don't miss Grande Case showcasing some of the finest French restaurants outside of Paris, France such as Le Tastevin, Le Cottage or Le Bistro Caraibes. On the Dutch Side, Simpson Bay, Maho Bay, Philipsburg and Cupecoy offer a completely different dining experience, but non-the-less exceptional - Some of the finest being Bamboo Bernies, Holland House, Temptations and Rare. In addition to the sit-down dining experience, don't forget about the many boulangeries and coffee houses tucked away in these little towns - perfect for your morning espresso, a light bite to eat or to pack a lunch for your day at the beach. On the Dutch side, don't miss Bon Appetite, The Taste Factory, Zee Best or Carrot Top. On the French, give La Sucriere or Sarafina's a try - you won't be disappointed.

BEACHES

Probably one of the main reasons you chose St Maarten/St Martin as your vacation destination - the Beaches. Thirty-seven of them in all, embedded between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Whether you are looking for unspoiled, secluded beaches, hotspots with a flurry of activities, quieter family oriented beaches, or clothing-optional, there is something for everyone. They are all magnificent, with each reflecting the cultural diversity of this magnificent island. Be sure to check us out on Pinterest, for a more information on this amazing island, as well as the beaches.

Villa Velaire

Pelican Key, St. Maarten
Telephone: 215-300-9727

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