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By No owner — last modified Sep 30, 2017 08:32 AM

 Sint Maarten - Profile


  • One of the northern Leeward Islands, this small island is shared between two nations. The southern third (Sint Maarten), is now an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the northern part (St Martin), belongs to the French départment of Guadeloupe.
  • Since becoming an autonomous country, Sint Maarten now has a new flag (red over blue with a white triangle at the halyard).
  • Sint Maarten has a population of 40,120 with the most populated areas being Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac.
  • The official languages are English and Dutch. Spanish, Creole, Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) and French are also spoken.
  • Netherlands Antillean Guilder or florin is used as currency see general info for details.
  • Time zone in Sint Maarten (GMT-4) see general info for more
  • The island has a tropical marine climate with steady northeast trade winds and moderate temperatures; average rainfall of 150 cm/year; hurricane season stretches from July to November
  • Sint Maarten is more developed than St Martin and cruising attractions include great restaurants, beach bars, white sand beaches, rainforests, coral reefs, and a fascinating colonial history.
  • Simpson Bay Lagoon on the west side of the island straddles the border between the two nations, and houses the majority of the island’s yachting facilities and amenities.
  • Both sides of the island use the IALA-B (green to port) buoyage system. See Yachting Essentials for more.


Overall Crime and Safety

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. There have been reports of theft from vehicles, especially rental cars. Armed robberies and tourists being followed by people on motorcycles have also been reported. Burglaries and break-ins are common at resorts, beach houses, and hotels.

Specific areas of concern:

Petty Theft

The main tourist areas are generally safe, but you should take normal precautions. Avoid remote areas at night. Don't take valuables to the beach. Make sure purses and backpacks are closed and not easy to grab.


Used as drug passageway from South America to Europe and North America. Don't leave bags unattended or agree to carry a package for anyone.

Maritime Issues:

Locked dinghy and outboard thefts continue to be a problem in the lagoon, particularly on the French side. Be sure to lift and chain and lock your dinghy and outboard at night and sleep with your doors and hatches locked.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net provides information by anchorage or by island. If you experience a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. Also be sure to check the noonsite Piracy & Security Pages

Reported Incidents:

Simpson Bay, 2018: Crew member shot in hand near Simpson Bay (see report adjacent).

Simpson Bay, Blue Pearl Marina 2018: Boat boarded when occupants sleeping dinghy/outboard, mobiles and laptop were taken.

General Emergency Numbers: see general info

Last Updated: December 2018


Sint Maarten has a mild tropical climate, with steady easterly trade winds. July to November is the rainy season, while December to June is dry, although conditions vary little, June to November being the hurricane season.

The St Maarten Cruiser's Net can be heard at 0730 on VHF Channel 14, Mon-Sat, beginning transmission with a marine weather report.

Weather and other information is broadcast on Mike's (Shrimpy's) Net, Monday to Saturday on VHF Channel 10 at 0730.

At 0900 Island 92 (91.9 FM) broadcasts a comprehensive marine weather forecast and overall synopsis, repeated at 12 noon.

Meteorological Department Curaçao (MDC)
Provides weather services for Curacao, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and Saba, within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Office providing public weather forecasts for Antigua & Barbuda, the Leeward Islands and the BVIs.

SMX Cyclone (in French - marine weather & cylone warnings)

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Weather (Dutch Side)
Tel:+1 721 545 4226

Main Ports

Cole Bay , Oyster Pond , Philipsburg * , Simpson Bay *

* indicates port of entry

Kelly Ran
Kelly Ran says:
Dec 05, 2018 01:03 AM

November 2018 - SIMPSON BAY

IGY Simpson Bay Marina has 1 dock available (out of 3).
No wifi or fuel.
Electricity was 0.54USD/kWh.
Water was either 0.15USD or 0.20USD per gallon (don't remember exactly).
No pumpout available.
Surrounding area has good grocery store (diverse options; prices were on par with any American metropolitan area), good breakfast at Zee Best, and various snack bars / bars/ food along the road. Sidewalks are scarce.
IGY customers have pool access to IGY Isle de Sol (on Snoopy Island). Turtle restaurant at Isle de Sol not open yet; we were told they would be open very soon.

Regarding clearing in or paying the bridge fee - just show up at the bridge, hail on channel 12 to ensure they know you are trying to enter and motor through FAST. They do not like keeping the bridge open for any longer than they have to.

You can take up to 24h to clear into customs. We ended up paying the bridge fee and lagoon fee a couple days after we arrived, because the office was closed when we showed up. Customs office and bridge/lagoon payment office have different hours. There is a dinghy dock for the customs/bridge office, just outside the bridge. You can anchor inside and then dinghy to the office. They also have a dumpster for cruisers at the police station parking lot.

The party boat is docked right next to the Dinghy Dock Bar and will be there for a while for repairs. Meanwhile they are still partying hard. Do not anchor too close to them (noisy!). Soggy Dollar Bar also had a lot of noise on some nights.

Lots of large flies and sand gnats in the anchorage. Good luck...

Budget Marine is very similar to West Marine in the States. Their inventory is more sparse than normal, due to looting after Irma. They still have a lot of stuff though. Prices are reasonable.

Island Water World is a much more dense space and seems to be more fully stocked (especially for electronics, dive equipment, fishing, and books). Prices may be higher than Budget Marine for most items. Also their dinghy dock is more crowded. Note that their dinghy dock is split in two parts -- the north half is for short-term parking and the south half is for long term parking.
They have water and a fuel dock at reasonable rates (approx 1USD/L for diesel; water was cheaper than at IGY Simpson Bay but don't quite remember.)

Mega ACE Hardware is a short uphill walk from Island Water World. Be careful; there is no sidewalk and the street was slippery in places. Also a lot of stray dogs. This ACE is large and has a lot of inventory.

November 2018 - MARIGOT

LOTS of wrecks; anchorage gets shallow in places, so stay in the channel as much as possible.
Fuel dock -- be prepared to pay in euros. We had trouble trying to pay with USD.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 30, 2017 08:30 AM

An update from Island Global Yachting (IGY):

In the wake of Hurricane Irma and Maria, the IGY Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and IGY Simpson Bay Marina, are currently under repair.
As of September 19th, 2017, the airport in St. Maarten was not open to commercial carriers, however, was accepting private aircraft and humanitarian relief flights.
St. Maarten has several hotels that remain open, however due to the airport being closed, are currently being used as relief centers.
Several banks are open and welcoming customers with some having cash withdrawal limits in place.
All IGY Caribbean marinas will be partially operational for the the upcoming 2017/18 Winter Season and are expected to include crew amenities such as; the gymnasium, swimming pool, and food and beverage outlets within our facilities gated locations.

John says:
Apr 13, 2017 02:56 PM

March 30 2017- Dropping off / picking up crew at the docks along airport road is now frowned upon. We were successful at the dock behind the Hertz Rent A Car lot, but not at the ferry terminal, or office adjacent. The other docks were all in a state of disrepair. We did not try the marina that is just past the Airport going toward the French side.
Note also that on older charts the Anguilla ferry terminal has moved and is now located adjacent to the airport and is staffed by customs agents.
SY Vent de Soleil

CaptPeter says:
Apr 01, 2016 12:01 PM

Comment to above post regarding pay enter in fee in advance. Don't ask so much questions on channel 12. Call up the bridge,let them know you're standby for entering the lagoon. That's all they need to know. You sail in and do what you do, put anchor or go to your berth. Then when you're all settled, take a buss or whatever to the custom office at bridge, clear in or pay what you need to pay. You'll have a pleasant entrance to the country in that way. Cheers Peter

Stein-Tove I Engh
Stein-Tove I Engh says:
Apr 23, 2015 02:34 AM

Our experience with Sint Maarten harbour authorities does not quite indicate that sailors are appreciated and regarded as a resource. Apart from paying fees of course.

One should think that professionally keeping track of practices and being able to provide service and correct information to sailors would be part of their job. Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island, has only two ports of entry. Sailors entering at one of them and leaving at the other should be no unexpected event.

The customs/harbour office in Philipsburg is not so conveniently located for an anchored sailor, so I called the harbourmaster on VHF to check if I could pay the anchoring fees in Simpsons Bay when later checking out from there.

Check in had been in Philipsburg. I was told this was not possible due to separate systems. So I walked to the harbour authorities office to pay the fee. They could not understand why I was coming and told me it would be better to pay the fee when checking out in Simpson Bay! The harbourmaster must have misadvised me they said. OK, OK....

Upon arriving in Simpson Bay and waiting for the bridge to open into the lagoon, I called the bridge on VHF 12 and asked if it was necessary to pay the bridge fee in advance, as I would anyway have to go to the offices to check out. I was told to call a phone number. The number is given in the Doyle guide, so this might be expected.
However, none of my SIM cards were able to complete the call. Time before bridge opening was approaching, and a visit to the offices by dinghy might have caused us to miss it if there was a queue. So I called the bridge again and asked if they could get me the information because I was not able to call on the phone. There was almost no VHF traffic. After answering the initial call, the operator just refused to communicate with me anymore.

So then there was no option but to hurry to the harbour office before the bridge opened. They said I had to pay before entering the lagoon.
When I told them I was upset because there was no answer on the VHF, the clerk said "Well, that is not how we do it here".

So, being helpful to sailors (customers), is not the way they do it at the bridge in Simpson Bay.
A supervisor, overhearing this conversation, said she would check on it.

As sailors often experience, the authorities want our money. Giving good service to sailors is not quite as interesting.

DRoss says:
Mar 15, 2015 03:31 PM

Don't know. We're under 20t I just checked our records and we paid $48 to clear in to Simpson Bay in Nov 2014 for 1 week. Then paid $24 to clear in to Marigot Bay and stayed about 3 weeks before leaving to go to Anguilla plus Prickely Pear. ($88) and St Barts ($26) then back to Marigot Bay and another $24.Might be missing something but I don't see any other charges. We bought water in Simpson Bay for $23 for 80 gals.

christopher melo
christopher melo says:
Mar 09, 2015 07:58 PM

Do the Harbor fees apply to vessels anchored in Great Bay, Philipsburg or only those in Simpson's Bay and the Lagoon?

Michael Strotmann
Michael Strotmann says:
Mar 08, 2015 08:04 PM

Bad surprise when clearing out ! Please be aware that Sint Maarten charges you for using "their" water. Next to a clearance fee of 2.15 US$ and Pilotage in 8.67 US$ and out 4.34 US$ they charge 16.25 US$ per week for a 20 t ships (called departure fee). Not enough - in addition they want to have 0.091 US$ per ton and day. For this i had to pay 90 days * 20 tons * 0.091 = 109.20 US$. All in all ... 270.61 US$ for "nothing".

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 09, 2015 10:19 PM

Posted on Yahoo Cruisers Network Online - 3 February 2015
The fee for entering through the Dutch side bridge depends on length.
12 meters or less is $7 US.
The costs go up if you are larger.
Every week you stay on the Dutch side costs $20 US.
Dutch C/I is at the Bridge and you actually see 2 people (not 3).

It costs 5 Euros each day to anchor in Marigot Bay on the French Side with an initial charge of 20 Euros when you first arrive, if you anchor in Marigot Bay. There is no charge for anchoring anywhere else on the French Side, either outside or inside the Lagoon.

The channel from the French side bridge has shifted because of hurricane Gonzolo and varies because the marks are also missing. It is best to enter through the Dutch side bridge and then go through the new Causeway bridge to the French Side. There is no charge for the French Side bridge.

Most people come in the Dutch Side and then decide either to anchor or just proceed to the French Side and check in, once in the lagoon. Or you can just anchor in Marigot Bay with lots of room (because of the daily charge).

We left Sint Maarten/St. Martin 3 days ago so this information is current.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 18, 2014 08:23 PM

Jan. 17, 2014 - French bridge currently experiencing problems and appears to not be opening (our friends had to go out the other bridge yesterday). Dutch Bridge has new times not shown in cruising guides and most web sites. New times effective Nov 15 are posted here (these match what the Dutch bridge authority gave us last week).
SY Day Dreamer

Sint Maarten
Cole Bay
Oyster Pond
Simpson Bay
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