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Saint Martin

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Travel Guide Caribbean Saint Martin

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Introduction

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© All Rights Reserved Sea'n'Sun

Saint Martin is an overseas collectivity of France on half of the island of the same name in the Caribbean. The island is popular among tourists, especially French, which can be explained by the availability of direct flights from France. The other part of the Island is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and called Sint Maarten.

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Brief History

At Columbus's time, St. Martin was populated, if populated at all, by Carib amerindians. The former Arawaks had been chased by the Caribs coming from the North coast of South America a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards who followed in Columbus' wake.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage to the New World. According to legend, Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honor, Columbus named the island San Martin.
The Caribs' territory was not completely conquered until the mid-17th century when most of them perished in the struggle between the French, English, Dutch, Danes and Spanish for control of the West Indies. The Dutch first began to ply the island's ponds for salt in the 1620s. Despite the Dutch presence on the island, the Spaniards recaptured St. Martin in 1633 and, one year later, built a fort (now Ft. Amsterdam) and another artillery battery at Pointe Blanche to assert their claim and control access to Great bay salt pond. On March 23, 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two nations, so they signed the Treaty of Concordia.
In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called "risk flights". After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007.

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Geography

The French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin occupies the northern half of the island which is called Saint Martin itself as well. The southern half, Sint Maarten, is part of the Netherlands Antilles. It became an overseas collectivity on 15 July 2007, encompassing the northern parts of Saint Martin island and neighbouring islets, the largest of which is Île Tintamarre. It is separated from the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla by the Anguilla Channel. The collectivity covers about 53 square kilometres and has about 37,000 inhabitants.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Ilet Pinel

Ilet Pinel is completely undeveloped and falls under the the national forest system. It is on of the most visited offshore islands of Saint Martin and mainly daytrippers come here, because there are no opportunities to spend more time here. Ilet Pinel offers perfect snorkelling and swimming at its beautiful white sand beaches as well as a choice of places for lunch.

Fort Louis

Fort Louis is sometimes also called Fort de Marigot. It was was built in 1789 to protect warehouses of Marigot from the frequent raids by British privateers based on nearby Anguilla. Unfortunately, nowadays not much remains of Fort Louis other than some partially intact stone walls and a couple of cannons. Still, the hilltop location offers a fine view of Marigot and Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Baie de Grand Case

Grand Case and the Baie de Grand Case are known mainly for its great food and that's what almost all is about if you visit this nice area. Still, apart from eating, there are also art galleries here and of course there is a beach. As it is the gourmet capital of St Martin and this village offers dozens of choices, lined up along the beach front road.

Other sights and activities

  • Ferme aux Papillions - The Butterfly Farm
  • Proselyte Reef - top diving spot
  • Pic du Paradis - 420 above sea level, great views and hiking
  • More beaches - Baie Orientale, Long Beach, Baie Rouge, Dawn Beach or the islets off the northeast coast

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Weather

Saint Martin has a hot and humid tropical climate with average temperatures of between 28 °C and 30 °C during the day, and around 23 °C at night. Most rain falls between June and October with a chance of hurricanes from August onwards. The drier (and slightly cooler) December to April period is the best time to visit, weather-wise. However, prices rise sharply during this period. Nevertheless, the months of November and May still have good weather so budget-wise these months are good options as well.

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Getting There

By Plane

Only a few airlines have regional flights to and from Saint Martin as all big airplanes arrive and depart in the Dutch part, Sint Maarten. The airlines that do fly to Saint Martin's L'Espérance Airport (SFG) in Grand Case are Air Antilles to and from Guadeloupe, Air Caraibes to and from Guadeloupe and Martinique and St Barth Commuter to and from Saint Barthélemy.

By Boat

Saint Martin - Anguilla vv
In season, ferries operated by the Anguilla Ferry System run between the islands of Anguilla and Saint Martin. They leave daily between 7am and 7pm roughly every 20 minutes between Blowing Point (Anguilla) and Marigot on the French part of St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Saint Martin - Saint Barthélemy vv
There are possibilities to go by ferry from Saint Martin to Saint Barthélemy. The MV Voyager travels two times daily between Marigot to Gustavia, except on Wednesdays and Sundays, when it leaves from Oyster Pond on Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island). It takes about 75 minutes from Marigot, 45 minutes from Oyster Pond.

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Getting Around

By Car

Renting a car is the best way to cover a lot of Saint Martin (and Sint Maarten) and offers maximum flexibility. It also saves you a lot on taxi rides, which can add up. A national driver's licence is valid here as well and minimum age usually is 21 or 23, but sometimes 26. Driving is on the right. There are many agencies, both on the airport of Espérance and Juliana Airport on the Dutch side, and in low season you can find one for 30 USD a day.

By Bus

Bus services run from Marigot to Grand Case and Orleans and there are taxis from Espérance Airport to Marigot and other places on the islands. Private minibuses also ply the major routes and you can flag a bus down anywhere.

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Red Tape

Visa requirements are the same as for France, although the Schengen Visa is not valid.

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Money

See also Money Matters

As an overseas collectivity of France, Saint Martin has adopted the Euro (ISO code: EUR, symbol: ) as its official currency. One Euro is divided into 100 cents, which is sometimes referred to as eurocents, especially when distinguishing them with the US cents.

Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500. The highest three denominations are rarely used in everyday transactions. All Euro banknotes have a common design for each denomination on both sides throughout the Eurozone.

The Euro coins are 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1 and €2. Some countries in the Eurozone have law which requires cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. All Euro coins have a common design on the denomination (value) side, while the opposite side may have a different image from one country to another. Although the image side may be different, all Euro coins remain legal tender throughout the Eurozone.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Anse des Sables ResidenceRoute de Sandy Ground 1 MarigotApartment-
Case a Ti Case27 Res Pinel Est 97150Apartment-
Le Royale LouisianaRue du Général-de-Gaulle MarigotApartment-
Nettle Bay Beach ClubSt. Martin 97150Apartment-
Pavillon Beach ResidenceRoute de Grand-Case Grand-CaseApartment-
Villa LonvilliersHauts de lAnse Marcel Anse MarcelApartment-

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Health

See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Saint Martin. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Saint Martin) where that disease is widely prevalent.

It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Saint Martin. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.

Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Quick Facts

Saint Martin flag

Map of Saint Martin

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Capital
Marigot
Government
Overseas Collectivity of France
Nationality
Population
29 820
Languages
French (official), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento
Religions
Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Protestant, Hindu
Currency
Euro (EUR) €
Calling Code
+590
Time Zone
UTC-4
Daylight Saving Time
UTC-3

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This is version 25. Last edited at 16:07 on Jan 20, 13 by Utrecht. 23 articles link to this page.

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