WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
About 90 km2 with 50 km2 for the French side. Map of Saint-Martin
Small hills with green valleys. A lot of beautiful, beaches from the small bay to the large beaches with white sand. The salt ponds rave given the island its name soualiga which means salt island.
Three languages are mainly used English, French and Dutch but Creole Papiamento and Spanish are also spoken in the island. Though English is the most popular language. In the Dutch side you had better to speak English. More than 80 different nationalities are represented in Saint-Martin.
Hot! Very hot! ! Well ? A tropical climate with short showers average temperature is 27 degrees during the all year. Perfect for water sports average temperature of water is 28.
Hurricane season from 13" July to 30t" of November. Three big hurricanes, Dona in 1960 Hugo in 1989 and Luis in September 1995 have hit the island of Saint-Martin
As in most of the Caribbean islands you will most often find prices in US Dollars, official currency for the French side is French franc ? For the Dutch side the Netherlands Antilles Guilder.
Electricity French side 220 v 60 hz, Dutch side 110 v 50 hz if you have to move to Saint-Martin take care watching your electrical devices, some of them will not work if they are 50 hz specially those with programming system as washing machine Hi-fi etc.. any how you will find on the island all the electronical items, you need for a very reasonable price.
Don't take with you your TV from your country it will not work. The system used in Saint Martin (French side) is Secam K you may anyway use the tuner of the multi system video recorder but it is not that easy.
Drinkable water is distributed on both sides of the island by the water plants, this water is usually warm even if you turn the cold tap you will not get fresh water, don't spoil water, it is precious.
There are three banks on the french side
and many others banks in the Dutch side.
Several change points are all around Saint Martin
France Telecom maintains the telephone services of Saint-Martin however not all the services are available as known in Europe notably the mobile GSM system wether your portable is ORANGE, SFR, Bouyges or American Operator neither of these systems will function.
If you request a line telephone from France Telecom the installation will be fairly rapid (about 3 days) if you are requesting a new telephone line this can take quite a bit of time if you decide to go to the office of France Telecom in Marigot some patience is required don't forget to take some books or magazines which you can read whilst waiting for your ticket number to come up
To call the French side from the Dutch side dial 00 590 plus number
To call the Dutch side from the French side dial 00 59 93 plus number
The roads system in Saint-Martin is in principal a main road around the island and small roads, which intercommunicate the roads are not in excellent conditions and it is wise not to drive too fast whilst driving in urban areas always very dangerous for pedestrians. There are no specific traffic rules and often priority on the roads is intermittent. This a good idea to think all those giving you right of way. Whilst driving on the road it is amusing and sympathetic to see everybody saluting each other in a friendly way either by horn or friendly wave by hand.
Certain taxis and specially on the Dutch side only take US dollars before getting into a taxi ask the driver if he accepts French francs or other currencies. Another type of transport are numerous minibuses which drive around the island and will stop anywhere where you wish, the cost is one dollar but pay attention to the fact that they won't let you on board with luggage. If you arrive on the island at the airport it is ideal to have reserved a rental car some times in advance. EUROPCAR or CAR RENT can be there to arrange your rental when arriving to the airport. For this service click here.
The international airport Princess Juliana is situated on the Dutch part of island an served by numerous international airlines companies. Don't forget to correctly fill in the immigration card which you should have received in the aero plane on arrival you have to present all your documents to immigration service don't be surprised by the attitude of the immigration department after having waited your turn on the waiting queue the immigration officer will stamp your passport often without saying hello or being particularly welcome. It is formally prohibited to transgressed the yellow line, if you do pass the yellow line the custom officer will show their authority in an often dispictable way by letting you know that they don't understand French or wish to speak it. They will ask you where you wish to stay in Saint-Martin but once you have passed this often disagreeable procedure you are welcome to freely circulate on the island.
The other airport on the French side "l'Esperance de Grand Case" situated on the french side assures regional and inter islands flights for information Tel 0590 87 33 03 or Fax 590 87 70 55 see also list regional airlines companies.
All medical, services are available in Saint-Martin the hospital in Marigot assures all kind of interventions numerous doctors specialists dentists and paramedical services are present on the island, there is also a radiology service which will soon have its own scanner in the future there is going to have a new hospital built.
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