Crafty Travels Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

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Along with crafting and cooking, one thing we love to do is travel. Whether  we are traveling to visit our children and grandchildren or off on a short weekend  getaway we are always ready to hit the road. One of our favorite places to visit is St  Martin. The first time we visited St. Martin in 2012 we fell in love with the “Friendly  Island “and its laid-back vibe. We have been returning ever since. Visiting 13 times over the past 12 years. Known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the island offers  exquisite dining from its beaches to the mountain sides and everywhere in between.  With 37 beaches you will always find a place to enjoy the ocean. There is duty free  shopping around the island with a vast selection of shops in both Phillipsburg and  Marigot. Adventure lovers and explorers can hike mountain trails, try zip lining, do some  snorkeling or maybe take an ATV or jet ski for a ride. Food, fun, shopping, the ocean,  sun and sand are just a few of the reasons we love St. Martin. We are happy to share  with you some of our favorite places and experiences that we have enjoyed over the  years. We try to explore the island a bit more, try new restaurants and meet more  people on every visit and hope we will be able to share those experiences in the future.

A Bit of Island Information

map of island

Located 190 miles east of Puerto Rico the island is approximately 34 square miles and is shared by both Dutch Sint Maarten (13+ sq miles) to the south and French Saint Martin (20+ sq miles) to the north. The borders are open, and you can travel freely about the island. Marigot is the capital of Saint Martin and Phillipsburg is the capital of Sint Maarten and is also the location of the major cruise port. The hub of duty free shopping on the island welcomes over 12,000 passengers on some days. The major airport on the island is Princess Julianna International Airport, is in Simpson Bay and is famous for low flying airplanes landing over Maho Beach.


Some More to Know Before You Go

BOOKING YOUR STAY: You have options when deciding where you would like  to stay during your visit. There are resorts with pools, bars and restaurants. Time share  rentals are popular and there is a large variety of condo and villa rentals available  around the island in every price range and offering different amenities. There are a few  all inclusive resorts on the island. Sonesta in Maho Sint Maarten and Secrets Saint  Martin are two of the more popular ones. There are so many fabulous dining options  around the island you may miss out on if you limit yourself to one resort. Simpson Bay  Resort is also popular and offers a few great dining options and a casino as well. There  are many vacation rentals available, and we recommend using a vacation rental agency  when booking one. They will assist you in selecting and renting a property. They offer a  concierge service that will assist you with airport transportation, vehicle rentals,  provisioning and dinner recommendations and reservations. They will also arrange spa  services right at your rental or even a private chef to prepare dinner. We use St Martin  Blue ( when booking our stays and they have been wonderful to  work with. There are other agencies as well. Wherever you choose to stay, using a  professional travel agent or rental agency can assure that you have a relaxing and  stress-free vacation. 

 LANGUAGE: The official language of Saint Martin is French. You will encounter  locals and visiting French tourists conversing in French. English is widely spoken, and  you will not have a problem communicating if English is your primary language. You will  see most signage and menus will be presented in French and English. While Dutch is  the official language of Sint Maarten, English is the predominant language spoken.  There are many other languages spoken throughout the island including Creole and  Spanish but for the most part English is universally used.  

 CURRENCY: The Euro is the currency of Saint Martin, but the US dollar is  accepted. Many places accept Dollar for Euro while others will calculate the current  exchange rate. The Guilder is the official currency of Sint Maarten, but the US Dollar is  accepted everywhere.  

 CREDIT CARDS: Credit cards are accepted by most restaurants and shops but  some, especially the smaller streetside vendors, accept cash only. You will want to have  cash on hand for beach chair rentals, street vendors and gratuities. Visa and Master  Card seem to be the card of choice at most locations. American Express is not accepted  as universally. Be sure to notify your credit card company of your travel plans.  

 TIPS AND GRATUITIES: Tipping is a personal choice, and everyone has their  own opinion on when and how much to tip. This information is provided solely as a  guide if you are looking for a little insight into the subject. Many restaurants will add  a15% service charge to your final bill. There is much discussion on whether the  restaurant owner keeps the service charge, the servers get it or if it is shared in some  way. Some people will add an additional gratuity to that. Many restaurants have done  away with the service charge except for the case of a larger group. A gratuity can be  added according to the diner’s personal preference. I will tell you that whatever your  decision on leaving a tip, the servers do appreciate cash. There are some other  instances where you may be considering a gratuity. If you are staying at a private  vacation rental you will most likely have the service of a housekeeper, a concierge and  possibly a personal chef. When we first started using a vacation rental, we were totally  unsure of the tipping etiquette for these occasions. These are some of the guidelines  that we have found helpful. For housekeeping $7-$10 per day per bedroom if you have  the same housekeeper for your stay. A good concierge can be an asset during your  stay. They will help arrange transportation, set up outings, make dinner reservations,  arrange for spa services and personal chef services. $10-$20 per service provided will  show some appreciation to a helpful concierge. Speaking of spa services, 10%-20% is  common. If you enjoy a private chef experience a gratuity of about 20% of the service is  suggested. 

 TRAVEL AND HEALTH: We check the CDC for  travel advisories prior to traveling abroad. We also check with our primary care provider  to see if we should have any vaccinations or medications prior to traveling. There is  nothing worse than falling ill when traveling. A little bit of caution can go a long way. 

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