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About St. Maarten

Information for Caribbean Vacations in St. Maarten

St. Maarten is an island about 150 miles east of Puerto Rico that is split between the nations of France and the Netherlands.  It is the smallest island in the world, at 37 sq. miles, that is jointly owned by two sovereign nations, with the French owning 20 sq. miles and calling the island St. Martin.  St. Maarten offers green rolling hills and miles of sugary-white sandy beaches, salt ponds, and lagoons.  St. Maarten is a pleasant mixture of Caribbean hospitality and European sophistication.

About St. Maarten | St. Maarten History | St. Maarten Culture


Princess Juliana International Airport is on the Ductch side of St. Maarten with international flights arriving from destinations throughout the Americas and Europe. A wide range of hotels are available, from luxury resorts to local bed & breakfast inns. A good selection of private condos and villas are also available for rental as a holiday vacation travel destination.

View our St. Maarten Vacation Rentals or St. Maarten Resorts


St. Maarten is one of the only duty-free islands in the Caribbean. It's a shopper's dream, offering a selection of fine jewelry and state-of-the-art electronics. Dutch St. Maarten is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, and plentiful casinos, while French St. Martin is known more for its jewelry and clothes shopping, clothing optional beaches, exotic drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and rich French Caribbean cuisine.


Carnaval, with its parades, costumes and dancing is celebrated before lent on the French side, culminating on Ash Wednesday. Carnival is held after Easter on the Dutch side, offering visitors a second opportunity to enjoy the island-style merrymaking. Nov. 11 is St. Maarten Day, with parades and a joint ceremony by French and Dutch officials at Border Monument obelisk celebrating the long-standing coexistence of both countries. Easter Monday is observed on both sides of the island the day after Easter Sunday. The Queen's Birthday (Dutch) is observed on April 30, while the French side observes Bastille Day on July 14.

Water Sports

The Caribbean beaches of St. Maarten are perfect for swimming, volleyball, or catching up on your tan. You can also find powerboat and sailboat rentals, as well as jetski rentals. The warm Caribbean Sea waters are inviting for snorkeling and scuba diving.


Soualiga, meaning "land of salt", was the name given by the Arawak Indians to St. Maarten centuries before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. By the time of his arrival, the Arawaks had been driven out by the savage Carib Indians, leaving an almost uninhabited island behind for him to name after St. Martin of Tours. The Spanish showed little interest in the island, and in 1631 the Dutch and the French settled the island to mine salt from the island's various salt pond. After brief period of conflict, the settlers came to an agreement to share the island peacefully.

Salt Production and sugarcane plantations allowed St. Maarten to thrive for two centuries, until the abolition of slavery made the sugarcane plantations uneconomical. The salt production alone was not sufficient to support all of the islanders and many chose to immigrate to other countries. In 1947, the construction of an international airport and several hotels marked the beginning of a strong tourism industry, reversing the flow of migrants and leaving St. Maarten with one of best standards of living in the Caribbean.


Passport Requirement

passport Please be advised that the Passport requirements for U.S. Citizens to re-enter the country from St. Maarten and the Caribbean is changing. Effective December 31, 2006 all U.S citizens traveling into the United States from St. Maarten and the Caribbean must have a valid U.S. passport. U.S. Birth certificates will no longer be acceptable as a travel document. On December 31, 2007, a passport or other accepted documentation is required for all air, sea, and land border crossings.
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