Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is a part of the Dutch Antilles. Unlike most of the other islands, Dutch isn't really spoken here anymore. The island itself is split into two regions: The French and the Dutch side. In the French part, they speak French. On the Dutch side, they mostly speak English.
The island is quite small and you don't have to stay too long if you would like to see all the sights. Everything is located very close to each other and the best places can easily be visited in one or two days.
The Dutch and French side are quite diverse, but the wealth and poverty is also very different throughout the island. Sint Maarten or Saint Martin is great for a short stop, but personally I would add a few other islands to your trip to Sint Maarten to make it more worthwhile.

Mullet beach in Sint Maarten. About 15 minutes walking from Maho Beach.

Mullet beach in Sint Maarten. About 15 minutes walking from Maho Beach.

  Average costs

Stay – Finding cheap accommodation in Sint Maarten isn’t the easiest task. Especially if you want to be located quite close to the city center… Because those hotels and hostels are often most expensive.
For a very basic hostel, located quite far out of the city center, I already paid $27 a night. Way too much, if I think about it again. Locals told me the neighbourhood wasn’t great and could even be dangerous.
I don’t really recommend staying in or around Phillipsburg. There really isn’t anything to see besides the pier and the shops. Marigot (the capital of the French side) is much cosier and more beautiful.
The only are a couple of hostels in Sint Maarten. Because of that, you might notice a steep increase in pricing when compared to other Caribbean islands. For a single bed in a room of six or ten, expect to pay between twenty and thirty dollars a night. Definitely check out the neighbourhood in advance. If you always need to pay extra to get somewhere, your hostel won’t be cheaper in the long run.
Everyone who would like a little more luxury can rent their own room. On average, expect to pay between $40 and $60 a night.
Luxurious ressorts and hotels cost between $80 and $100.
A complete overview of hotels, hostels and other accommodations in Sint Maarten can be found on this page.

Eat – There always are plenty of rich tourists coming to Sint Maarten. This means that the restaurant cost isn’t super cheap. For an easy, but good, hamburger you’ll pay between $9 and $15. If you would rather eat out a bit healthier, expect to pay around $20 a person.
A soda will cost you $2 or $3, a beer between $2 and $5.

Transport – The public transportation is quite limited and often not very clear for tourists. From the airport there are plenty of taxi’s, but they cost a lot of money. A single drive from the airport to Phillipsburg costs +/- $22. If you don’t have too much luggage with you, and don’t mind sitting in a car for a little longer, you can also take the public busses.

They are prohibited to stop at the airport, so you have to walk outside of the airport and just wait there until you see one of the busses passing by.

The small busses can’t be missed. Behind the front window you usually find a big placard with the destination written on it. In most cases this will be Maho Beach, Phillipsburg, Marigot or the Quartier d’Orleans. You see one going to where you need to be? Raise your hand.
From the airport to Phillipsburg only costs you $2. The same for Marigot.

One of the bigger airplanes landing at Maho Beach.

One of the bigger airplanes landing at Maho Beach.

  Saving money

Public transportation – Tourists often can’t figure out the public transportation in Sint Maarten, but actually it isn’t that hard. From the center of Phillipsburg and Marigot (and far beyond these cities) lots of small and bigger busses leave pretty much every five minutes. Behind their windows they always have a placard with their destination.
When you see one going to, or closeby, your final destination; just raise your hand.
From Phillipsburg to the famous Maho beach will take you about forty-five minutes.
Long rides cost $2, short rides $1.

Cook yourself – Everywhere in Sint Maarten you can find small of big supermarkets. There you can find plenty of food and drinks to keep your costs under control.

Drink tap water – It is ridiculous that they dare to ask $4 or more for a bottle of water in some places in Saint Martin. Instead, save your bottle from the supermarket and just refill it with the perfectly safe and purified tap water of Sint Maarten.

Marigot, the capital of the French side.

Marigot, the capital of the French side.


Maho Beach – This beach is on many people’s bucket list and that shouldn’t be a surprise. This tiny beach is right behind the international airport of Sint Maarten. Because the airport is so small the airplanes are landing very low to the ground, or they need to take off very close to the beach.
Every day there are tens or hundreds of tourists waiting to see the airplanes up close and personal.

The most exciting part isn’t when an airplane lands, but when one leaves! Grab the fence and keep objects like hats, sunglasses and flip flops near, because they will get blown away without a doubt.
Watch out for your camera too. The small sand storm might just damage your camera lens.

Marigot – Marigot is the capital of the French side of the island. This small city is very cosy and has a very European feel. Go visit the French market and don’t forget to pose with the “I <3 Sint Maarten” plaque.
I really enjoyed the St. Louis Fort. Completely at the top of the city you’ll notice an old, and dilapidated, fort. From there you’ll get splendid views over the city and the whole island.

Visit the other islands – Almost daily, there are ferries that can bring you to the surrounding islands of Sint Maarten. Anguilla, St. Barths and Saba are some of the more popular islands.
Each of these smaller islands is quite different from Saint Martin and definitely worth a visit. If you don’t have that much time, you can also arrange a flight to the islands. These flights are very expensive and not as snug as the ferry boat.

The pier of Phillipsburg. The capital of the Dutch side of the island.

The pier of Phillipsburg. The capital of the Dutch side of the island.


Long stay – If you will just be visiting Sint Maarten, you can see all sights and do all popular activities in about four days. Definitely try to book a ferry (or cruiseship) to some of the other islands. That way, you can definitely book a little longer.

Forget to check the flight schedule – Everyone who goes to Sint Maarten wants to take a peek at the impressive airplanes on Maho Beach. The big jets from far away are by far the best attraction on the island, but there aren’t that many landing every day. To make sure that you catch one of these bigger airplanes you have to check the flight schedule in advance! Most of the time there are some in the late morning, some in the early afternoon and a couple more in the evenings.

Accommodation in Sucker Garden – Sucker Garden is often referred a the ‘ghetto’ from Phillipsburg. This neighbourhood is absolutely not cosy and there used to be a lot of criminal activity going on. I never had any problems while here, but I didn’t feel at ease either way.

Fort St. Louis in Marigot.

Fort St. Louis in Marigot.

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