Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Despite the dominance of the euro since January 2002 within the mother country, Holland, the legal tender on the Dutch side of St. Maarten is still the Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf); the official exchange rate is NAf 1.79 for each $1. U.S. dollars are really the coin of the realm here, and prices in hotels and most restaurants and shops are designated in dollars. On the French side (as well as on St. Barts), the official monetary unit is the euro, with most establishments widely quoting and accepting either dollars or NAf guilders as well. At press time, the U.S. dollar was trading at $1.20 to the euro. Anguilla's official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, though U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere; the exchange rate is set permanently at roughly 2.70EC to $1.
Prices throughout this guide are given in U.S. dollars for establishments on the Dutch side and Anguilla, and in either euros or U.S. dollars for establishments on the French side and St. Barts according to whether establishments quoted their prices in euros or dollars at the time of publication.
As the dollar was still weaker than the euro at press time, some establishments on St. Barts and French St. Martin advertise a 1-to-1 exchange rate if you use cash. Always confirm before you get the bill.
The easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM. Be sure you know your daily withdrawal limit before you leave home. Also keep in mind that many banks impose a fee every time a card is used at a different bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions than for domestic ones. And if you use a debit card, the fees may be higher still -- again, check with your bank before you leave home. On top of this, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank before you leave home.
Note: Keep in mind that ATMs in St. Maarten give you a choice of dollars or euros, while ATMs on St. Martin only dispense euros.
Traveler's checks are widely accepted on all three islands. You can get traveler's checks at almost any bank. They are offered in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500, and sometimes $1,000. Generally, you'll pay a service charge ranging from 1% to 4%. The most popular traveler's checks are offered by American Express (tel. 800/807-6233 or 800/221-7282 for cardholders -- this number accepts collect calls, offers service in several foreign languages, and exempts Amex gold and platinum cardholders from the 1% fee); Visa (tel. 800/732-1322) -- AAA members can obtain Visa checks for a $9.95 fee (for checks up to $1,500) at most AAA offices or by calling tel. 866/339-3378; and MasterCard (tel. 800/223-9920).
If you carry traveler's checks, be sure to keep a record of their serial numbers separate from your checks in the event that they are stolen or lost. You'll get a refund faster if you know the numbers.
Major credit cards are widely accepted on all three islands. Keep in mind that you'll pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time. Also note that many banks now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).
Almost every credit card company has an emergency toll-free number that you can call if your wallet or purse is stolen. Credit card companies may be able to wire cash advances immediately, and in many places they can deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two. Citicorp Visa's U.S. emergency number is tel. 800/336-8472. American Express cardholders and traveler's check holders should call tel. 800/221-7282 for all money emergencies. MasterCard holders should call tel. 800/307-7309.
What Things Cost in St. Maarten/St. Martin $
Taxi from the airport to Marigot 20.00
Double room, moderate 200.00-250
Double room, inexpensive 100-140.00
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 15.00-25.00
Bottle of Carib beer 1.00-1.50
Bottle of Coca-Cola 1.00
Cup of coffee 1.00-1.50
1 gallon of premium gas 5.00