American Express -- None of the islands covered in this guide has an official AmEx representative.
Area Codes -- The country and area code for St. Martin is 590/590; the country and area code for St. Maarten is 599/599.
Banks -- Banks affiliated with the Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com) ATM networks are located on St. Maarten/St. Martin. On the Dutch side, several banks are clustered along Front Street in Philipsburg. On the French side, most banks are along rue de la République in Marigot. Check the following banks' websites for exact locations of ATMs (also called ABMs for "automated banking machines"): Windward Island Bank (http://wib-bank.net), Scotiabank (www.scotiabank.com), FirstCaribbean Bank (www.firstcaribbeanbank.com), and RBTT N.V. (www.rbtt.com). Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten has two ATMs (WIB and RBTT) on the Arrivals floor. A Scotiabank branch is located at the cruise terminal building at Pointe Blanche, Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Note: Keep in mind that ATMs in St. Maarten give you a choice of dollars or euros, while ATMs on St. Martin dispense only euros.
Business Hours -- Banks: On the Dutch side, most banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 3:30pm, Saturday from 9am to noon. On the French side, they are usually open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1:30pm. Stores/shops: Although French St. Martin stores open around 9am and close around 7pm, most shopkeepers close to take an extended lunch break from around 12:30 to 2pm, or even later. Dutch side shops stay open continuously from 9am to 6pm (and later).
Currency -- U.S. dollars are widely accepted, and prices in hotels and most restaurants and shops are most often designated in dollars as well. On the French side, the official monetary unit is the euro (€), with most establishments widely quoting and accepting either dollars or Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf) guilders as well. At press time, the U.S. dollar was trading at $1.20 to 1€. Prices throughout this guide are given in U.S. dollars for establishments on the Dutch side, and in euros or dollars for establishments on the French side.
Drinking Laws -- Eighteen is the legal drinking age on St. Maarten/St. Martin. Alcohol is sold in grocery stores and restaurants.
Drugstores -- Both sides have several pharmacies, though none are open 24 hours. On the French side, try Pharmacie du Port (rue de la Liberté, Marigot; tel. 590/87-50-79; Mon-Sat 8am-7:30pm, Sun hours vary). On the Dutch side, try Philipsburg Pharmacy (4 E. Voges St., Philipsburg; tel. 599/542-3001; Mon-Fri 7:30am-7pm, Sat 9am-1pm, Sun 10am-noon), Simpson Bay Pharmacy (Simpson Bay Yacht Club, 163 Welfare Rd.; tel. 599/544-3653; Mon-Fri 8:15am-7pm, Sat 9am-1pm, Sun 5-7pm), and the Druggist (Airport Rd., Simpson Bay; tel. 599/545-2777; Mon-Fri 8:30am-7:30pm, Sat noon-7pm, Sun 1-3pm).
Electricity -- Dutch St. Maarten and Anguilla use the same voltage (110-volt AC, 60 cycles) with the same electrical configurations as North America, so adapters and transformers are not necessary for Americans or Canadians. However, on French St. Martin and St. Barts, 220-volt AC prevails; North Americans will usually need transformers and adapters. To simplify things, many hotels on both sides of the island have installed sockets suitable for both European and North American appliances.
Embassies & Consulates -- On St. Maarten/St. Martin, citizens of the U.S. are represented by its consulate at St. Anna Boulevard, Willemstad, Curaçao (tel. 599/961-3066). There is a Canadian consulate at 16A Topaz Dr., St. Maarten (tel. 599/544-5023). Citizens of the U.K. can register with the consulate at 38 Jan Sofat in Willemstad, Curaçao (tel. 599/747-3322).
Emergencies -- For emergencies, call tel. 911. On the Dutch side, call the police at tel. 542-2222 or an ambulance at tel. 542-2111; to report a fire, call tel. 911 or 120. On the French side, you can reach the police by dialing tel. 17 or 87-50-10. In case of fire, dial tel. 18. For an ambulance, dial tel. 15 or 29-04-04.
Holidays -- National holidays are New Year's Day (Jan 1); Epiphany (Jan 6, French side); Carnival (early Feb); Good Friday and Easter Monday (usually Apr); Labor Day (May 1); Ascension Day (early May); Bastille Day (July 14, French side); Schoelcher Day (July 21, French side); Assumption Day (Aug 15); All Saints' Day (Nov 1); Concordia Day and St. Martin Day (Nov 11); Christmas Day (Dec 25); and Boxing Day (Dec 26).
Hospitals -- On the Dutch side, go to the St. Maarten Medical Center, Welegen Road, Cay Hill (tel. 599/543-1111; www.sintmaartenmedicalcenter.com). On the French side, the local hospital is Hospital Louis-Constant Fleming, near Marigot in Concordia (tel. 590/52-25-25).
Internet Access -- Cybercafes can be found in both Marigot and Philipsburg, and most hotels have high-speed Internet access and/or a computer center.
Mail -- On St. Maarten, the main post office (tel. 599/542-2298) is located on Walter Nisbeth Road. The main post office (Bureau Principal; tel. 590/51-07-64) on the French side is in Marigot, on Rue de la Liberté.
Newspapers & Magazines -- In addition to several local newspapers (The Daily Herald is the leading English-language publication), visitors can pick up one of several useful tourist magazines including St. Maarten Nature, St. Maarten Events, Discover St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Maarten Nights, Ti Gourmet, and Vacation St. Maarten.
Smoking -- While many larger properties offer nonsmoking rooms, there are no regulations against smoking -- for now. Legislation has recently been proposed to ban smoking in all St. Maarten restaurants, bars, and casinos -- check to see if the law has been passed.
Taxes -- For departures to international destinations from Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch side, there's a departure tax of $30 ($10 if you're leaving the island for St. Eustatius or Saba; if you're leaving by ferry from Marigot Pier to Anguilla, the departure tax is $4). There is a 3€ ($4.50) departure tax for departures from L'Espérance Airport on the French side. Note: The departure tax is often included in the airfare. On St. Maarten, a government tax of 5% is added to your hotel bill. On top of that, many hotels tack on a service charge of 10% to 15%. Hotels on French St. Martin add a 10% service charge and a taxe de séjour, a local room tax of 4% to 5%.
Time -- St. Maarten/St. Martin operate on Atlantic Standard Time year-round. Thus in winter, if it's 6pm in Philipsburg, it's 5pm in New York. During daylight saving time in the United States, the island and the U.S. East Coast are on the same time.
Tipping -- Porters and bellmen expect $1 per bag. Taxi drivers should receive 10% of the fare, more if they offer touring or other suggestions.
Toilets -- Public facilities are few and far between other than a couple of options in Marigot, Philipsburg, and Orient Beach. Hotel lobbies and restaurants are the best options, though technically you should be a guest or customer.
Water -- The water on St. Maarten/St. Martin is safe to drink. In fact, most hotels serve desalinated water.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.