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Questions About St.Maarten

Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:14 pm

Hi everyone,

My wife and I are going to take a trip to St.Maarten at the end of February and I have the following questions about

1). As I understand it the best time to catch the large airliners landing is between 12 and 4 P.M. Is that correct?

2). Is it possible to park a rental car close to Maho beach?

3). Is there a place to watch planes take off of runway 28?

4). Is it easy to cross between the French and Dutch sections of the island? My wife and I are both United States citizens.

5). Are people on the island friendly and welcoming?

Thanks for your responses
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RE: Questions About St.Maarten

Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:46 pm

Hi, in answer to your questions:

1 - Yes, you will get most of the big movements in that time, but I think it is worth staying all day, as you will get a lot of different movements through the day- island hoppers, cargo, etc..

2 - I think this should be ok, there are some spaces at either end of the beach, but not a lot from memory. I can recommend staying somewhere like the Sonesta hotel, then Maho Beach is a very short walk away.

3 - Maho beach is still good for this, and there are a few other spots, but Its difficult to explain how to get to them..its worth taking a walk around the airfield, you may find a few good spots, but the beach, with cheap beers nearby is hard to beat!

4 - My recollection is that (like Continental Europe) its all an open border, so no formalities.

5 - Yes, the people are very welcoming and kind. The food is great too- I recommend the swordfish steak at the Sunset bar
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RE: Questions About St.Maarten

Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:24 pm

Quoting dfwjim1 (Thread starter):
4). Is it easy to cross between the French and Dutch sections of the island? My wife and I are both United States citizens.

You don't even notice the border, apart from a sign by the road. Kind of like driving across a state border in the US or between Schengen countries in the EU.

Quoting opticalilyushin (Reply 1):
Yes, the people are very welcoming and kind.

I'd be careful with generic answers like this. For some reason, whenever there are palm trees and beaches and hammocks, people tend to say "the people are very welcoming and kind".
St. Maarten, in contrast to many other smaller islands around it, can be a bit shady/dodgy and even dangerous in some areas and at certain times. When walking on the beach in Philipsburg in the evening, I didn't feel nearly as safe as in Saba, Anguilla, St. Barth and similar places. And I'm normally not a nervous traveler and have been to some very weird places. The truth is, since breaking away from the Netherlands and becoming the main hub for the surrounding areas, part of the population is actually quite poor and reports of muggings, robberies and even murders aren't rare. And it's getting worse. Honestly I wouldn't walk around the poorly lit beach areas of the city after dark. Kind of weird people hang around there.

All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
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RE: Questions About St.Maarten

Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:10 pm

No problem parking a car around Maho Beach, be sure to be well in advance for the KLM arrival as the place is really PACKED  

I was there last month and to speak frankly I did not find the whole Island very appealing. No problem with people though, on both parts. I'm a native french speaker so I spoke french on the french part, but I think you won't have any problem speaking in english on the whole island. No problem to use your US dollars, even on the dutch part I once paid with Florins and was offered the change in dollars  

Yes, most of the trafic come between 11am and 4pm, if you want to see the Amerijet 727 you'll have to be there earlier. There's a road at the other end of the runway but parking is not allowed IIRC, however you'll likely enjoy the jetblast at Maho Beach !

As said above, no problem crossing the "border", once you get your passport stamped at the airport you can go where you want...

Have a nice trip !
Life is short : eat dessert first !
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RE: Questions About St.Maarten

Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:23 am

Thanks everyone for all of the very helpful information.

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