Sharing a common border with the Dutch constituency of St. Maarten, French overseas collectivity St. Martin sits in the north of Saint Martin island, which has the same name. The island is the smallest in the world to contain two nations with different populations. Visitors, however, can easily travel between the two.
The capital of Saint Martin is Marigot, a charming, albeit slower paced settlement with the four Bs: boutiques, bistros and bed and breakfasts. While the French side is slightly less populated, the Dutch side sees the majority of international tourist arrivals due to it being home to the main cruise port and international airport.
Saint Martin forms part of the Leeward Islands chain, located in a region broadly classified as the West Indies.The island shares its eastern boundary with the Atlantic Ocean and the island’s western waters are classified as part of the northern Caribbean. While many cruise visitors will arrive in Philipsburg on the Dutch side of the island, smaller luxury ships will dock at the Port of Marigot.
The Port of Marigot is located in the Bay of Marigot on the north western side of St. Martin, surrounded by Simpson Bay to the south. It is separated from the British overseas territory of Anguilla by the Anguilla channel. The pier where most ships dock is located right on the waterfront, which is in the centre of Marigot.
While there are many facilities for cruise passengers that dock on the Dutch side of St. Martin, there are limited facilities for ships that dock in Marigot. The pier can only accommodate one medium size cruise ship at a time. Therefore, many passengers may be tendered ashore.
- Lockers for storing personal items
- Taxi rank
- Ferries to Anguilla.
How to Get Around
Most visitors use taxis to get around St. Martin, and most destinations have fixed prices that are displayed. No metres are used, so it’s always best to agree on a fare beforehand.
There are also larger taxi-style minibuses travelling around the island. However, with no set timetables, you’ll have to wait at one of the designated bus stops and wait.
To explore the island in depth on your own terms, renting a car is the best option. Around the port and in town there are several rental agencies, as well as two wheel hire options including bike and moped.
Day visitor can also easily walk around Marigot on foot, exploring the local shopping, beach and dining options.
- Currency - French St. Martin uses the Euro, which is available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins and €1, and €2 coins. Bank notes in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations are also used; however, most ATMs will only dispense €10, €20 and €50 notes. Most businesses on both the French and Dutch sides of St. Martin also accept US dollars.
- Time Zone - St. Martin operates on Atlantic Standard Time (AST), which is 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC.)
- Weather – St. Martin enjoys a warm tropical savannah climate, with limited yearly rainfall. The temperature is fairly consistent, with the average yearly high being 29 degrees Celsius and the average low being 25 degrees Celsius.
- Pic Paradis - Taking a trip up to St. Martin’s highest peak, Pic Paradis, provides hikers with spectacular views of the area and the neighbouring Caribbean islands of Saba and Anguilla. Hikers can journey along a well-blazed trail down the range, taking in the natural flora, and if lucky, may even spot wild monkeys that make the coconut palms their home. The journey to the peak from the port is around 11 minutes by car and will take approximately 1 hour and 36 minutes on foot.
- Marigot Waterfront Markets – Spend a good part of the day near the shore, poking around the waterfront markets, which feature craft goods, Caribbean foods and lots and lots of seafood. Those wanting a more upmarket small-town French shopping experience can purchase French imports, fashion and jewellery in the Le West Indies Shopping Mall or the Marina Port La Royale – both of which are located close to the port.
- Anguilla - Take a 20-minute ferry ride to Anguilla for the day and explore all this island has to offer. Ensure that you take your passport with you in order to travel internationally. The ferry ride is approximately USD$30 for a round trip and ferries depart Marigot every 40 minutes.