Although the island is divided into two separate land claims, there are no official borders or border crossings (besides a couple of cheesy billboards welcoming drivers to each side of the island). Traffic moves as freely across both sides of the island as if it was one entity.
Car rental agencies are abundant on the island and are wiser choice than scooters. Motorbikes tend to get stolen and easily roughed up and, frankly, they aren’t that much cheaper than a car. During low season, there’s no need to book ahead, as you can simply arrive at Juliana Airport and bargain among the 10 or so booths for a price as low as US$25 per day. In high season, expect to pay around US$35 per day for the most compact car you can find. Weekly discount rates are usually on offer year-round.
Try Banana Location (0690-71-91-05; firstname.lastname@example.org) and you’ll be guaranteed a clean, comfortable vehicle at a very reasonable price (€35). The affable owner delivers some of the top customer service on the island – he’ll meet you at the airport to make sure you start your holiday off on the right foot.
The following companies have offices at Juliana Airport, Sint Maarten:
Paradise Island (545-2361)
Buses are by far the cheapest method of transportation, but remember that time is money. If you need to be somewhere fast, take a taxi or better yet rent a car. Buses do not have any set schedule and they come and go as they please until around 10:30pm. Buses charge US$2 for every town you pass through along your journey. Service mostly moves through Philipsburg, Mullet Bay, Simpson Bay, Marigot and Grand Case. When you need to get off, simply yell ‘stop.’
In the capitals you have to stand at bus stops, which are called ‘Bushalte’ in Philipsburg. In rural areas you can flag down buses anywhere along the route. Buses have their final destination posted on the front shield, but most are bound for either Philipsburg or Marigot.
The government-regulated fares should be posted in each taxi. Rates increase in the evening or if there are more than three passengers. From Juliana Airport it’s US$6 to Maho, US$15 to Marigot and US$22 to Grand Case. Taxi tours of the island last 1½ to three hours and cost US$20 to US$40 per person.
To hail a taxi, call 147 anytime day or night.
Frog Legs Cyclery (87-05-11), next to the Match supermarket in Marigot, St-Martin, rents out mountain bikes from US$15 a day and organizes island cycling tours for US$20.