Sint Maarten’s Dutch side is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewelry, exotic drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and plentiful casinos. The island’s French side is known for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and rich French and Indian Caribbean cuisine.
English is the most commonly spoken language along with a local dialect. The official languages are French for Saint Martin, and both Dutch and English for Sint Maarten. Other common languages include various French-based creoles (spoken by immigrants from other French Caribbean islands), Spanish (spoken by immigrants from the Dominican Republic and various South American countries), and Papiamento (spoken by immigrants from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao).
Rental cars are the primary mode of transportation for visitors staying on island. If any driving is expected off the major roads (such as to some of the more secluded beaches), a four-wheel drive is recommended. Traffic on the island, however, has become a major problem; long traffic jams between Marigot, Philipsburg and the airport are common.
Because the island is located along the intertropical convergence zone, it is occasionally menaced by tropical storm activity in the late summer and early fall.
The island is widely known for its hundreds of gourmet (and more moderately priced) restaurants on both sides of the island.
Neighbouring islands include Saint Barthélemy (French), Anguilla (British), Saba (Dutch), Sint Eustatius “Statia” (Dutch), Saint Kitts and Nevis (Independent, formerly British). With the exception of Nevis, all of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from Saint Martin/Sint Maarten.