What to expect around the Island of St. Maarten / St. Martin

Just as Europe is more expensive than the US, so is the Caribbean more expensive in general than the US. Cars rent for $165 per week  & up depending on the season (but some other Caribbean islands don't even permit vacationer rentals of standard cars, forcing you to use expensive taxis). However, taxis are not expensive in SXM. You will need a car to go to the best beaches, e.g., Orient Beach and the launching area to Pinel Island (a $6.00 round trip to a small paradise - they pick you up at the time you choose).

Going to SXM is like going to a laid back Europe. Restaurants have chefs who were schooled in Europe. Many restaurants prepare everything fresh daily, including the baking of their breads (buy some at a market and bring it home for breakfast or sandwiches). French fine dining and Dutch grills are superb. And to boot there is a local Caribbean style food. French as well as California wines are abundant and  you can get a Heineken almost anywhere on the Dutch side.

Yet, SXM has fast food, pizza delivery and several reasonably priced restaurants although there are few chain restaurants there so you have to discover where to dine out (we would be glad to suggest our favorites).

Shopping/dining in Marigo is like visiting a small seaside village in France. On the Dutch side tax free shopping attracts island visitors as well as cruise ship stopovers.