St. Martin is four hours behind GMT and one hour ahead of EST (Eastern Standard Time).
French is the official language of St. Martin, and Dutch the official language of St. Maarten; however, English is also widely spoken on both sides of the island.
Newspapers and Magazines
French publications such as Le Monde, France Soir, and Le Figaro are available although they can take between one to three days to reach St. Martin. France Antilles is available on the day of publication.
Several international newspapers and magazines are also available on the island.
The island is split when it comes to voltage, with 220 volts, 60 cycles in St. Martin and 110 volts in St. Maarten.
Temperatures in January and February average 70°F to 81°F. Between July and October temperatures are at their highest averaging 76°F to 88°F.
Summer rains are likely in the Lesser Antilles with regular daily showers as opposed to all-day or week-long downpours.
Shops are open from 9 am to 6 pm or 7 pm with a two-hour lunch break taken between 12 and 3 pm.
The economy is entirely dependent on tourism. In 2004, about 475,000 tourists visited St Martin, over 50% of whom came from North America. Owing to its status as a free-trade zone, St. Martin has become a paradise for duty-free and tax-free shopping in the West Indies.
Bank Opening Hours
Banking hours are from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Thursday, and close an hour later on Friday at 4:30 pm with a one and a half hour lunch break on Friday.
Credit cards and traveler's checks are widely accepted. (Credit card transactions are usually in US dollars.)
The currency of the French Antilles is the Euro; however, the US dollar is accepted in St. Martin. There is no limit to the amount of traveler's checks and letters of credit being imported, although a declaration of foreign banknotes in excess of $500 US must be made.
In Dutch St. Maarten, the currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin (NAF), which exchanges at a fluctuating rate.
If the itemized bill says "Service Compris", no tip is necessary.
Documentation & Visas
The regulations for entering the French Antilles are the same as those for entering France, with only a passport required.
Visitors entering from any of the following countries will require visas:
- South Africa
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
- St Lucia
For non-EU citizens who wish to stay longer than three months, extended visas are required. Visitors from the US and Canada who wish to stay for a period less than three months will not need a passport, although some identification will be required. For this purpose, a passport is recommended. An onward ticket is necessary but not always asked for on arrival.
There is a $20 US departure tax on St Maarten, (if specified on airline ticket), which is payable only at Juliana International Airport.
- 1st January - New Year's Day
- February - Carnival (before Ash Wednesday)
- 8th March (Victory Day)
- Good Friday / Easter Monday
- 1st May (Labor Day)
- Ascension Day (beginning of May)
- Whit Monday
- 14th July (Bastille Day)
- 21st July (Schoelcher Day)
- August (Assumption Day)
- 1st November (All Saints Day)
- 11th November (Armistice Day)
- Christmas Day