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BWIA International, ALM-Antillean, American Airlines, USAir, Continental, KLM, Air France and Viasa serve Princess Juliana Airport (SXM), which is 7 mi/11 km west of Philipsburg. A few flights to neighboring islands use the smaller Esperance Airport (SFG also called Grand Case Airport), adjacent to Grand Case Village on the French side. Many smaller Caribbean air carriers include St. Martin/St. Maarten on their schedules, and many cruise ships stop in Philipsburg for a day.

Transportation to nearby islands is available by air or sea. Saba is reached by a short flight: Windward Island Airways Winair has three daily flights from St. Maarten. The island can also be reached by motor yacht or catamaran from St. Maarten. Statia is a 15-minute flight away (there are five daily round-trips on Winair) or a day’s sailboat excursion. Travel between Statia and Saba is primarily via air, but some boat service is available.

Rental cars are available on all islands except Saba. Driving is on the right, and all foreign driver’s licenses are acceptable. There is only one main road that circles St. Martin/St. Maarten, so getting lost isn’t a problem. Be prepared for streets that are narrow, crowded and in poor condition, especially on the Dutch side. Taxis and motorbikes can also be used for touring, but if you’re riding a scooter, be careful: The roads are narrow and the drivers aggressive.

What to Buy
St. Maarten is a great place for duty-free shopping, with everything from jewelry and watches to china and crystal. Dutch chocolate and cheese, copper, enamelware, handblown perfume bottles, batiks, Delftware and liquor are also good buys. St. Martin is a good place to find upscale boutiques selling French and Italian sportswear and leather goods. You’ll also find French perfume at duty-free prices. Saban lace and rag dolls are among the items that can be found on Saba. There are some local handicrafts, but not a wide variety. As with any place in the world that labels itself “duty free,” make sure you have a good idea of what things cost at home before buying. The lack of duties doesn’t guarantee a bargain.

Shopping Hours: Mon-Sat 9 am to noon and 2-6 pm.

Banking Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am to noon and 1:30-4:30 pm.

Sunbathers heading for the pretty beach at Maho Bay should know that they will be directly under the flight path of the island’s main airport. If you are prepared, the giant Air France and KLM 747s provide an amazing spectacle as they scream over the beach close enough for you to get a clear look at the pilots—the planes touch down just seconds later at Juliana Airport. Unprepared beachgoers caught snoozing may need an additional week on a very quiet beach to recuperate…Saba’s airport has one of the shortest commercial landing strips in the world (only 1,312 ft/400 m long)—just slightly longer than the decks of some aircraft carriers…Look for eurodollars when you are on St. Martin/St. Maarten. The currency will soon be used for all countries in the European Union (a result of their economic unification) but were put into circulation on the island a couple of years ago…Portions of the movie Speed II which focuses on an ill-fated cruise ship were filmed near Marigot, St. Martin and off the coast of the island…A crisis gripped Saba several years ago: In the midst of the July Carnival celebration, the supply of Heineken beer ran out…Statia was the first foreign land to recognize the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Britain. In 1776, a passing U.S. warship saluted the island with a cannon shot, and the islanders returned the greeting, thereby giving their support to the rebellion…There are excellent tennis facilities on the Dutch side of the island…Note the blue cobblestones on Statia’s Fort Road. They were originally used as ballast stones in old trading ships…St. Martin/St. Maarten is the smallest land area in the world where sovereignty is divided between two countries…Although Dutch is the official language in St. Maarten, most people speak English very well (it’s also spoken extensively on Statia and Saba). On the other hand, French is very much the spoken language on St. Martin…During low season (mid April to mid December), prices are 30%-50% lower…Annual festivals include Carnival (St. Martin—February); Heineken Regatta (St. Maarten—March); Carnival (St. Maarten—the two weeks following Easter); St. Martin French Food Festival (May); June Fest (St. Martin/St. Maarten—June); Carnival (Saba and St. Eustatius—July); St. Maarten Music and Cultural Festival (late July); Concordia Day (St. Martin—11 Nov), a celebration of the agreement that split the island….

Public Holidays: 1 Jan (New Year’s Day); February (Lenten Carnival—St. Martin); Good Friday; Easter Monday; 30 Apr (Queen’s Birthday—St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba); 1 May (Labor Day); 8 May (Liberation Day—St. Martin); Ascension Thursday (40th day after Easter); Whitmonday; July (Carnival—St. Eustatius); July (Carnival—Saba); 1 Nov (All Saints’ Day—St. Martin); 11 Nov (Armistice Day St. Martin); 11 Nov (Flag Day—St. Maarten); 16 Nov (Flag Day—St. Eustatius); 6 Dec (Flag Day—Saba); and 25-26 Dec (Christmas).

For More Information
Tourist Offices

Canada: Caribbean Tourism Organization, 2E3 Taurus House, 512 Duplex Ave., Toronto, ON M4R 2E3, phone 416-485-8724, fax 416-485-8256.

U.K.: Caribbean Tourism Organization, Vigilant House, 120 Wilton Rd., London SW1V 1JZ, phone 0171-233-8382, fax 0171-873-8551.

U.S.: St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, 675 Third Ave., 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10017, phone 212-953-2084 or 800-786-2278, fax 212-953-2145; French West Indies Tourist Board (part of the French Government Tourist Office), 610 5th Ave., New York, NY 10020, phone 900-990-0040.

St. Martin does not have a tourist office in Australia.

Overseas Embassies

Embassies for St. Maarten (Dutch side), Saba and St. Eustatius

Australia: Royal Netherlands Embassy, 120 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, ACT 2600, phone 6-273-3111, fax 6-273-3206.

Canada: Royal Netherlands Embassy, 3rd Floor, 275 Slater St., Ottawa, ON KIP 5H9, phone 613-237-5030, fax 613-237-6471.

U.K.: Royal Netherlands Embassy, 38 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5DP, phone 171-584-5040, fax 171-581-3450.

U.S.: Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20008, phone 202-244-5300, fax 202-362-3430.

Embassies for St. Martin (French side)

Australia: Embassy of the French Republic, 6 Perth Ave., Yarralumla, ACT 2600, phone 6-270-5111, fax 6-273-3193.

Canada: Embassy of the French Republic, 42 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON KIM 2C9, phone 613-232-1795, fax 613-232-4302.

U.K.: Embassy of the French Republic, 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT, phone 171-201-1000, fax 171-259-6498.

U.S.: Embassy of the French Republic, 4101 Reservoir Rd. N.W., Washington, DC 20008, phone 202-944-6000, fax 202-944-6072.

Foreign Embassies

St. Maarten (Dutch side), Saba and St. Eustatius

Australia is represented by its high commission in Barbados: Bishop’s Court Hill, St. Michael, Bridgetown, phone 809-429-3550, fax 809-435-2896.

Canada is represented by its high commission in Curacao: Maduro and Curiels Bank, N.V., P.O. Box 305, Plaza JoJo Correa 2-4, Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, phone 599-9-661-115, fax 599-9-661-122.

The U.K. is represented by its consulate in Curacao: Heintje Kool Z/N, Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, phone 599-9-695-968, fax 599-9-695-964.

The U.S. is represented by its consulate in Curacao: P.O. Box 158, St. Anna Blvd., Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, phone 599-961-3066, fax 599-961-6489.

St. Martin (French side)

Australia is represented by its high commission in Barbados: Bishop’s Court Hill, St. Michael, Bridgetown, phone 809-429-3550, fax 809-435-2896.

Canada is represented by its high commission in Barbados: Bishop’s Court Hill, St. Michael, Bridgetown, phone 809-429-3550, fax 809-435-2896.

The U.K. is represented by its consulate in Guadeloupe: BP2041, Zone Industrielle de Jarry, 97192 Pointe-a-Pitre Cedex, Guadeloupe, phone 590-266-429.

The U.S. is represented by its consulate in Barbados: Alico Building, Cheapside, Bridgetown, phone 809-431-0225, fax 809-431-0179.

Recommended Guidebooks

Caribbean Islands Handbook (Passport Books).

The Caribbean and the Bahamas (Cadogan Guides).

VIP Cruising Guide: St. Maarten-St. Martin Area to Antigua and Barbuda by William Elman (Virgin Island Plus Yacht Charters, Philadelphia).

Official Names: St. Martin, Sint Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba.

Visa Info: Passport needed by citizens of Australia, Canada and the U.K.; U.S. citizens need photo ID and proof of citizenship. All require onward ticket. Reconfirm with carrier before departure.

Health Certificates: Yellow-fever certificate needed if coming from an infected area; contact health authorities for latest information.

Capitals: Marigot (St. Martin), Philipsburg (St. Maarten), Oranjestad (St. Eustatius), The Bottom (Saba).

Population: St. Martin, 28,518; St. Maarten, 33,459; St. Eustatius, 2,300; Saba, 1,200.

Size: St. Martin/St. Maarten, 37 sq mi/96 sq km; St. Eustatius, 12 sq mi/31 sq km; Saba, 5 sq mi/ 13 sq km.

Languages: Official: French (St. Martin), Dutch (St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba); in St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, English is almost universally spoken, and many people in French St. Martin can speak some English.

Climate: Tropical.

Economy: Agriculture, tourism.

Government: St. Martin is a subprefecture of Guadeloupe, which is an Overseas Region of France. St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba are autonomous regions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant.

Currency: St. Martin: French franc (F). 100 centimes = 1 F. St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba: Netherlands Antilles florin or guilder (NAG). 100 cents = 1 NAG. Credit cards and traveler’s checks accepted in urban and tourist areas. MC, VI.

Time Zone: Atlantic; 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

Telecommunications: Good. Country code for Dutch side is 599. Island code is 5. Country code for the French side is 590. No city or island code needed.

Electricity: St. Martin, 220 V; St. Maarten, 110 V; St. Eustatius, 110/220 V; Saba, 110 V.

Departure Tax: St. Martin/St. Maarten, US$20; St. Eustatius, US$10; Saba, US$5.
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