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Getting Around St. Martin - St. Maarten

The best way to get around St. Martin and St. Maarten is in a rental car. But really, outside of walking, just about any means of navigating between the French and Dutch sides of the island is manageable. Having a car will allow you more mobility and you'll find reasonable rental rates. Agencies are clustered on the outskirts of Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), located in St. Maarten. Unfortunately, traffic can be pretty heinous on both sides. The island buses also cater to tourists and are fairly cheap to ride. If you don't like the idea of waiting on a bus, consider splurging on a taxi. And if you're feeling adventurous you might want to use a scooter; there's nothing like feeling the sea breeze in your hair -- ahem, helmet.

Car Renting a car is a cheap and easy way to get around either St. Martin or St. Maarten. Some travel sites report rates starting as low as $30 USD a day; all of them mention that the rental kiosks are located just outside SXM Airport. Don't worry about motoring between the two sides -- chances are you won't realize you've crossed the French-Dutch border -- but do watch out for traffic jams around tourist haunts like Marigot, Philipsburg and Grand Case.
Scooters Scooters are certainly a cool way to see the sights, and they'll make island traffic more manageable. But we can only advise this method if you've had experience maneuvering one before. This is particularly the case in St. Martin and St. Maarten, where there are narrow roads. You can rent a scooter at the airport for around the same daily price as a car.

Bus

Look for minivans that say "bus" in the license plate -- these are the most affordable way to get around. Unfortunately, the minibuses aren't very efficient -- they're prone to pick you up and drop you off anywhere you'd like, so there's no set schedule to follow (similarly, their start and end times are hard to determine each day). It'll cost somewhere between $1 and $1.50 USD for a one-way trip.

Taxi

During the day, these vans mostly cater to cruise ship traffic, motoring travelers to and from the top sites. But the taxis are also great transportation at night, particularly as the minibuses are less likely to run. They're unmetered, so agree on a fare before entering the cab. And keep in mind it will cost you about $12 USD to get from the airport to Philipsburg or Marigot and about $20 or $30 USD to get from the airport to Dawn Beach.

Entry & Exit Requirements

You can travel freely between this island's French and the Dutch sides, but you will need to present a valid passport when you first arrive. You might also be asked to present your return ticket, proof of sufficient funds for your trip and proof of lodging. For more information on customs, visit the U.S. State Department's website.

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