If you have read a few of our reports on various countries and their currencies, you will notice there is a commonality among the titles. We mention the country first and then the currency it uses.
The same is true with Saint Martin, which is a Caribbean island. However you need to be a little careful here as the currency it uses relates to only the northern half of the island known either as Saint Martin or Sint Maarten. This is because the northern part of the island is deemed to be French territory. We will find out more about this here.
Saint-Martin, the French part of the island, uses the euro. This is divided into 100 cents and has several coins and banknotes to use. The coins are available in one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents. You can get one and two euro coins as well. There are also 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro banknotes.
It is also possible that when you visit Saint-Martin, the French part of the island, you may well see US dollars in use there as well. All in all though you should use the euro while you are there, as this is the official currency in use.
The so-called Collectivity of Saint Martin (French) would of course use the euro just as France itself does.
Clearly there are two main currencies to focus on here. If you want to visit the French part of the island you should ideally get hold of the euro. The good news is that this is easy to find via bureaux de change. You just have to find one that offers a good rate for the amount of cash you need. You can get extra cash once you are there by visiting a bank and using their cash machine. There are several banks out there so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a branch in the more popular and built-up areas. You can also exchange another popular currency for the relevant one at banks and exchange points.
You should also be able to use credit cards to make payment in many places. Don’t assume this is always the case though. In some locations people may end up only being able to pay with cash, so it is a good idea to always have some euros on you.
Well this is easy enough to do – you just need access to a currency converter that is easy to use. The euro will be included on all good currency converters so you just need one that gives you a fairly up-to-date exchange rate. It will only be a guide anyway since the bureau de change you use will charge a different rate in order to make some money. This is why shopping around is such a good idea.
If you like the sound of visiting Saint Martin it’s a good idea to begin your journey in a virtual sense. You can do so by visiting the official website for the island at http://www.stmartinisland.org/. This actually includes information for both parts of the island so make sure you read the relevant sections if you want to visit the French northern half.
For the most part the island is quite safe to visit. However there will be the odd instance of petty crime that occurs there. In reality you should simply adhere to all the usual precautions you would take at home, and you should be just fine. Few people will run into problems, especially if they keep an eye on their belongings and are careful about where they go, especially alone.
It is worth noting that islands in this part of the world are regularly used for drug smuggling. Make absolutely sure you never leave any of your luggage or bags unattended, even if only for a moment. In addition, make sure you don’t agree to take any bags for anyone else, even if there seems to be an innocent reason.
Saint Martin is the northern half of the island known by the same name. Its official name is the Collectivity of Saint Martin. It takes up 60% of the entire island with a border with Sint Maarten running roughly through the lower middle section. The capital of this island is Marigot, which is a town rather than a city. It only has a few thousand permanent residents, which makes it a rather laid-back and appealing place to be. It used to be a fishing village but has grown rather from those initial beginnings. You can happily wander around the town and perhaps stop off at a café or bistro to enjoy a drink and a snack, and perhaps enjoy the views over the water too.
This part of the island also boasts some impressive beaches. Many people book a holiday here with a sensational beach break in mind – and who can blame them? There are some amazing Caribbean-styled beaches here that beg you to attend them every single day. Look out for such beaches as Anse Marcel, Petites Cayes, Grandes Cayes and Happy Bay among others (what a great name that last one has!).
Another key place to visit while on the island is Grand Case. You can see Anguilla, a nearby Caribbean island, from there. Its proximity to the coast makes Grand Case an appealing place to visit and stay in if you like your water sports. You could try anything from windsurfing to snorkelling to scuba diving if you wish.
However if you love French food you won’t be disappointed either. The main Grand Case Boulevard has restaurant after restaurant to delight in. If you are staying for a couple of weeks you can enjoy trying a different one every single night if you wish and you’ll never eat the same thing twice.
Another place you may want to try out – especially if you have kids – is the Butterfly Farm. This occupies a coastal position near the eastern side of the island. The farm, as the name suggests, focuses only on butterflies – and there are plenty of them. If you are used to seeing the odd butterfly or two at home, be prepared to see many more beautifully-coloured ones here. Many are exotic and have stunning colours displayed across their wings. There is even one known by the name of glass wings, although you may not be guaranteed to see all the species while you are there. You can enjoy a guided tour while you are there that is included in with the normal entrance fee, so make sure you go on it. It will make it much easier to learn all about the various butterflies you could see.
If you fancy something a little more demanding, make sure you see Pic Paradis. This is the highest point on Saint Martin and therefore it guarantees you some excellent views. The walk to the top is bracing and will be a great challenge for many. Once you get there make sure you spend some time at the summit – 424 metres high. You can look out over the island from here (and over Sint Maarten as well of course) and see how many landmarks you can spot. Make sure you wear good stout shoes for this journey, because you might just be tempted to take in some other walks from here as well. It is a haven for hikers and walkers alike.
It is easy to get confused about Saint Martin, particularly as this is the name for the entire land mass as well as the northern part of the island that is the French collectivity. However there are plenty of reasons to head for the French collectivity since it has so many appealing places for you to see. You can also enjoy a wide range of activities here and with the euro as the currency of choice, it is easy to make sure you have some cash with you before you even land.
It is the ideal Caribbean destination for those who want a good beach holiday with reliable weather too. With beaches dotted all over the island, particularly on the northern reaches, you can be spoilt for choice if all you want is to do some sunbathing.
With ample water sports, places to go and many French-inspired restaurants to discover as well, there couldn’t be anything better to enjoy. Despite the size of this part of the island, it certainly knows how to pack in a variety of activities, destinations and great things to see and do. So really, the only question that remains is this – where are you going to start your exploration of Saint Martin?