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St. Maarten/
St. Martin Airport

Gateway to the Lesser Antilles

St. Maarten/St. Martin. As one of the busiest airports in the Lesser Antilles, St. Maarten/St. Martin airport serves as a gateway to the Lesser Antilles and an increasingly important cruise port of departure. And, given its famous dual French/Dutch personality, this fabulous destination is itself well worth at least a mini-vacation on its own.


The Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) (599-545-4211) on St. Maarten’s side of the island offers non-stop flights from the United States, Canada and Europe (see arrivals live here). The airport’s 7708′ runway, barely enough for heavy jets, requires a low 3% guide approach over the beach, as shown (see video), to the delight of plane spotters, some at the adjacent Sunset beach bar (photo: Wikipedia). Onboard, for landings, a left side seat offers the best views of the island, and the right side for the takeoffs that climb steeply toward the mountains and bank hard right after 10 seconds. A top 10 most exciting airport to fly!

Terminal. An ultra-modern building, the terminal is reached by jet bridge or shuttle bus off the tarmac to the ground floor arrivals hall. Fill out the customs forms handed you ahead of time. Save your luggage tags, if any, and incoming boarding pass as transit proof to avoid local departure tax.

If connecting to local islands via St. Barth Commuter, Winair or Windward Express, and with carry-on only or check through luggage, go to that airline’s Transfer Information Desk, then to the transit screening point and elevator to first floor departure hall with the boarding gates of your carrier (see terminal diagram). Otherwise, proceed through immigration (typically the left lines are shortest), either into St. Maarten or through to other connecting carriers via their transit desks or check-in counters.

Food Court and Shops. The terminal also features the ‘So Much More’ food court and shops, with 40 choices, some unique to the island.

Ground Transport. The most economical way to get around, rental cars are available at the airport, along with taxis, which can be especially expensive to the French side of the island. Limos may be arranged for pickup at the airport.

Major Airlines Served. Large intercontinental jets fly to St. Maarten directly non-stop from the United States, including Delta (Atlanta), United (Chicago, New York and Washington), JetBlue (Boston), US Airways (Charlotte and Philadelphia) and American (Miami and New York). Europe is served by KLM and Air France (Paris) and Canada by WestJet (Toronto).

Caribbean Carriers. Within the Caribbean, travel is usually on regional jets, turboprops and smaller planes. American Eagle/Executive Airlines, LIAT, Caribbean Sun, BWIA, WINAIR, Air Caraibes, Anguilla Air Services, Windward Express, Dutch Antilles Express, St. Barth Commuter and other local carriers offer regularly scheduled intra-Caribbean flights as well as charter service, including flights to nearby islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Barths.

Flights to the British Virgin Islands. Some carriers, including LIAT and Winair, offer direct flights to Tortola’s Beef Island airport from St. Maarten, making this route an attractive alternative route to the British Virgin Islands in order to avoid the congestion at San Juan airport.

Multi-National Archipelago. Offering great opportunities for day trips or side excursions, this archipelago of nearby islands is multi-national, sharing St. Maarten/St. Martin’s dual Dutch/French personality, as St. Barths is French, Saba and Statia are Dutch and Anguilla and Antigua are British.

Ferry Service. Ferry service is available to Anguilla and St. Barths from St. Martin’s Marigot ferry dock and to Saba on Edge I and Edge II high speed catamarans from the Pelican marina in Simpson Bay near St. Maarten’s airport and Dawn II from Dock Maarten Marina in the heart of Philipsburg. Ferry service is not available to St. Eustatius (Statia). The travel time to St. Barths is 75 minutes on a conventional ferry and 35 minutes on a catamaran ferry.

Marigot, St. Martin. With a southern France ambiance comparable to Cannes, Marigot has open air cafes, boutiques and bistros as well as a beautiful harbour. Marigot and St. Martin have large resorts as well as more intimate places (see info and rates). See the affordable Hotel Beach Plaza (see info and rates) right on Marigot Bay.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten Cruise Port

An easy 15 minute palm-shaded walk from the pier, Philipsburg shops have become a competitor to St. Thomas as the Caribbean’s best duty-free shopping destination, especially for jewelry (photo: CruiseTimetables).

An increasingly important departure/ embarkation port, Philipsburg is a most popular destination port (see ‘Oasis of the Seas’ cruise to St. Maarten (as well as to St. Thomas) out of Ft. Lauderdale. Also see ‘Adventure of the Seas’ cruise to St. Maarten out of San Juan).

Philipsburg. Somewhat congested when the cruise ships are in port at Great Bay, Philipsburg is known for its narrow, cobblestoned Front Street with world-class jewelry and other duty-free shops and cafes connected by steejes (little lanes) to less congested Back Street, with more local and eclectic shopping.

Along Great Bay beach, the Boardwalk promenade stretches a mile, lined with casual beach bars and fine restaurants.

See St. Maarten Cruise Port.

Accommodations. Philipsburg and St. Maarteen have a wide variety of accommodations (see info and rates). In Philipsburg itself, the Seaview Hotel (see rates-low price guarantee) is "beachfront on a budget" right on Front Street. Princess Heights Deluxe Condo Hotel (see rates-low price guarantee), in Oyster Pond, is an affordable luxury boutique condo hotel with gourmet kitchens and great ocean views.

Accommodations near the Airport. Near the airport, the Travel Inn Hotel (see rates-low price guarantee) and the Turquoise Shell Inn (see rates-low price guarantee) are affordable choices.

US Non-Stop/Connecting Airports. The major US airports for non-stop flights to the Caribbean as well connecting service include Miami (American), New York (American, JetBlue, Delta), Atlanta (Delta with the world’s largest hub), Chicago (United and American,) Los Angeles (United and American), Philadelphia (US Airlines), Houston (Continental) and Dallas Fort Worth (American, the most important Caribbean carrier, with its main US hub).

Delays and Overnight Bag. Luggage and flights may be delayed so carry on an overnight bag with a day’s necessities, including medicines, clothing and a bathing suit as well as reading material and snacks if desired.

Back to Tortola’s Beef Island Airport

San Juan Airport | San Juan Cruise Port | Old San Juan | Tortola Airport
St. Maarten Airport | St. Maarten Cruise Port | St. Barths Airport | Anguilla Airport
St. Thomas Airport | St. Thomas Cruise Port | St. John | Saba Airport
Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port | Atlanta Airport | Dallas/Ft Worth Airport

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