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Gonzalo
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Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:56 pm

Hello all! I hope some of you can help me with this.
After more than two decades being an aviation geek, I’m planning (finally!!!!) to visit St. Maarten in the middle of 2020, probably in June or July.
Obviously the main purpose of travel for me is spending most of the time in Maho Beach or close to the action at the airport, doing some good spotting and taking pictures.
Flying from South America will be relatively easy for me, but I have a few questions regarding my stay at the island :
1. If I take an hotel far away from the airport (close to Oyster Pond for example ), is there any kind of affordable / reasonable priced transport to shuttle to Maho Beach? Or are the taxis so expensive that will be better to pay more for another hotel closer to Maho Beach instead ?
2. Is it safe to walk in the island alone? I like to walk and I had the pleasure of knowing beautyful places like Easter Island or Bora Bora walking around, but after the hurricane hit a couple of years ago there were alarming news about public safety at the island.
3. How expensive is the average lunch/dinner at the island? Thinking in normal places taking normal food, nothing luxury but clean and tasty...last year in Bora Bora I spend a lot of extra money due to the pricey food, although I was prepared.
Ok, knowing more about this three specific details would help me a lot to make a better travel plan, so if someone can answer it will be really great.
Thanks!!
Rgds.
Gear Up!!: DC-3 / EMB-110 / FH-227 / A318-19-20-21 / B732 / B763 / B789 / B788 / A343 / ATR72-600
 
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Gonzalo
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Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:05 pm

Oh and the last thing, what option would be the smartest, US dollars, Euros ? What currency is the most commonly used ?
Thanks!
Gear Up!!: DC-3 / EMB-110 / FH-227 / A318-19-20-21 / B732 / B763 / B789 / B788 / A343 / ATR72-600
 
spacecadet
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:36 am

Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:43 am

1. Nope. If you want to stay far away from Maho Beach, you'll want to rent a car. Taking taxis all the time is not worth it, and you'll feel confined to your hotel. It's not really possible to walk many places. Car rental is cheap; almost always cheaper than taking taxis even on one round trip per day from one side of the island to the other.

2. It's relatively safe, but I wouldn't wander around without knowing where you're going. Generally the tourist areas are safe. But I don't think it's a good idea to walk around randomly until you know the island better.

3. I'm from NYC so my scale might be a little skewed, but I don't find it all that expensive to eat there. Regular lunch/dinner prices are about what I'm used to. About $15-$20 per person. Less if you go to a "Lolo", which are locally owned, locally operated restaurants. But - and I say this not knowing how much has been repaired after the hurricane - I would at least set aside one night for some of the really high-end French food you can get in Grand Case. When I was there last, a few months after the hurricane, that town had been completely destroyed. But I did see some of the restaurant owners working on repairs even then, so maybe it's back in business now. If it is, that is some of the best food you will *ever* eat. You can probably also find good food in Marigot, which probably withstood the hurricane better, but Grand Case was/is where all the best places on the island are.

The most common currency on the Dutch side is US dollars. On the French side, they seem to prefer Euros. But on either side, they usually will take either one, and will just calculate the equivalent price for you in whatever you have. You might come across one or two places that won't do that, so it's not a bad idea to ask to make sure, especially on the French side. Of course most places also take credit cards.

I'd recommend trying to look up how much of the island has been repaired before deciding where to stay. I have stayed in Oyster Pond several times but last time I was there, almost nothing was left. The Maho Beach area I know is mostly back to normal. But I'm not sure about the rest of the island.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
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Gonzalo
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Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:20 pm

Spacecadet thank you very much, very useful information !!!
G.
Gear Up!!: DC-3 / EMB-110 / FH-227 / A318-19-20-21 / B732 / B763 / B789 / B788 / A343 / ATR72-600
 
jetwet1
Posts: 2987
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:42 am

Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:45 pm

There are lots of shared taxis on the island, they run from one tourist spot to another, from Oyster to Maho should be $8-$10.

I avoid renting cars there, but if you do make sure you get full insurance, the locals driving style is, let's say aggressive.

Food as above, as long as you're not eating in a hotel it's not expensive.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:08 pm

There are also small busses (jitneys) there that run all over the island for $1-2. No set schedule, you just wait at a stop. We took one from Simpson Bay to Phillipsburg and back.

Note: Our "bus" on the return was a VW van.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
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Gonzalo
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Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:05 am

Thanks to all for your help. To be honest the shared taxi looks more friendly than the rented car, one of the things I like to do on vacations is precisely avoid driving, and the price looks fine, I could solve all my trips with less than 200 dollars and that is the cost of an international driver’s license here, which I suppose I need to get insurance outside Chile. Many thanks for the valuable tips!!
Rgds.
G.
Gear Up!!: DC-3 / EMB-110 / FH-227 / A318-19-20-21 / B732 / B763 / B789 / B788 / A343 / ATR72-600
 
Balloonchaser
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Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:29 pm

Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:19 am

I’d recommend staying at the Sonesta in Maho if you can. It’s literally a 50 second walk across the street to the beach. There’s plenty of good restaurants in Maho and it’s an extremely safe city with lots of action. Paying a bit extra to stay at the Sonesta might be worth it. It’s walkable to/from the airport (taxi is like less than $10-20). It’s a beautiful resort and the convenience of being so close to Maho beach is worth it in itself. I stay near there and when I’m there, I can look on flightradar and if there’s a cool/unique flight coming in on final, I can just step outside and check it out.

Best of luck on your trip!
 
dfwjim1
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Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:31 pm

Be sure you take plenty of cash. When I was there in 2014 many commercial establishments did not accept cc.
 
vuelti24
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:00 am

Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:16 pm

Hello Gonzalo, been on St. Marteen by cruise and moved between the port to Maho by local minivans...very cheap but a bit unconfortable. You will mix with local people but seemed to be safe...just take the normal precautions. Walking to Maho seems to be quite difficult instead. I do not recomment to do so...
 
vuelti24
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:00 am

Re: Need advice on trip to St. Maarten

Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:18 pm

Gonzalo, by the way, IDP are not required in the Caribbean Islands...you can rent with your local license. Renting a car or a jeep or a buggy for the day is very common for cruisers...and no reservations are required.

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