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About St. Maarten / St. Martin

Unique in this world, St. Maarten and St. Martin are Dutch and French respectively, sharing a single island in the northeast Caribbean tucked in the path of virtually constant trade winds. Except for markers at the side of the road, there are no formal border crossings - like town borders in the U. S. or Canada.

There, the similarity with North America ends. Temperatures here are summery year-round, warmer and a bit less breezy in late summer, and with more frequent showers and more winds September through December. Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, but hurricanes rarely visit outside of September, the statistical height of hurricane season, when some restaurants also close for vacation.

The island is volcanic in origin and was first discovered by Christopher Columbus. Some local legends say the Simpson Bay lagoon itself was the crater of our long-extinct volcano, but today the Simpson Bay area is the heart of island nightlife and the home to dozens of megayachts and super-megayachts during the winter (outside hurricane season).

The Dutch Side Capital is Philipsburg with its famous boardwalk along Great Bay Beach, where Front Street is paved in brick and lined with stately Royal Palm trees. You'll find many jewelry stores here along with fine restaurants of all descriptions and many places to buy souvenirs. Free parking is available in a large lot on the salt pond, a couple of blocks behind Front Street.

The A. C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo facilities are at the eastern end of Philipsburg; they're where the cruise ships dock. You can walk a half mile to town, or grab an inexpensive jitney. Our all-new, ultramodern international airport is being built in Simpson Bay near Maho, between the lagoon and Maho Beach.

You may also wish to visit Marigot, the French Capital, with its waterfront cafes and upscale shops - or take a jitney to Orient Beach, the largest and most popular beach on the island, which is lined with hotels and restaurant/bars.

The official currency on the Dutch side is the Antillean Guilder; $1 equals about 1.78 fls, or guilders. The French side currency is the Euro (), the value of which fluctuates on world markets. Prices for many things are currently higher on the French side because of the high value of the Euro compared to the American dollar.

For much more information on the island -- including where to find the lowest airfares, where the best restaurants are, which beaches are the kind that you like, and practically anything else you would like to know about St. Maarten / St. Martin, visit www.everythingstmaarten.com

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