Ah, St. Maarten: paradise on earth. After returning from a wonderful short trip to this wonderful slice of the Caribbean this week, I must say I’m impressed. And rejuvenated.
Out of the dozens of Caribbean islands I’ve visited this year, St. Maarten stood out. The entire process on both sides – entry and exit – was formidably efficient.
Here’s how it went – and everything you need to know before visiting St. Maarten in 2021 or 2022.
My experience visiting St. Maarten in 2021
Within the first 5 minutes of getting to the hotel, I was swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Maho Beach. Surrounded by white-sand and pink clouds, watching airplanes pass mere feet over my head, I thought: life really isn’t too bad.
St. Maarten definitely surprised me this time. I hadn’t been to St. Maarten in 7 years, and after two Category 5 hurricanes smashed against this beautiful island in 2016, I didn’t know what to expect.
Well, they recovered fully. Even after the pandemic decimated the industry, the island survived.
In fact, most of the hotels, resorts, and markets I had previously known were all reconstructed and lovelier than ever before! The beaches gleamed with splendid beauty, the reefs healthy as ever. You could see sailboats from all sides of the island. It was fantastic.
In terms of Covid-19 restrictions on St. Maarten:
- Face masks are mandatory indoors, but luckily not outdoors. This seems enforced. It is a small island, after all.
- Restaurants and hotels are open and ready for business!
I enjoyed some time at the world-famous Sunset Bar in Maho Beach. I couldn’t help myself; between airplanes, a fabulous white-sand beach, and the most famous bar in the world, I was in pure jubilation.
Related: Dominica: the Best Caribbean Island?
Step 1) Filling out an easy online form
Unlike the systems other islands use, the St. Maarten “EHAS” is very user-friendly. You’ll get your response within 12 hours of submitting it.
The best news is that starting today (November 1st, 2021), all travelers to Sint Maarten who are fully vaccinated are exempted from a COVID-19 test.
One issue that may concern people who were vaccinated early on is that your completed vaccination date cannot be older than one year. Luckily, you can obtain a booster shot before the ending of the one year term is over to meet this requirement.
Step 2) Sign up for St. Maarten Visitors medical insurance/ “Protection Plan”
Similar to the procedures for entering Costa Rica, St. Maarten requires all visitors to buy a protection plan. This covers basically anything you would need if you get sick with Covid-19 on your vacation.
Step 3) Time to fly to St. Maarten!
It’s a good idea to show up to the airport extra early. This is because airlines thoroughly review each passenger’s documents to make sure they are allowed to fly! Airlines can be fined heavily otherwise.
I recommend showing up at least 2 and a half hours early, as it’s likely you will need to check in at the ticket counter.
Make sure to bring with you:
- Your “EHAS” pre-authorization PDF with the QR code on it. It’s a good idea to print it out in case your phone dies.
- Official proof of vaccination, e.g. the CDC-issued vaccine card
- Your Covid-19 test results (if not vaccinated)
- An extra comfortable face mask or two, just in case
On arrival in St. Maarten, you can expect two checks;
- An initial check of your QR code
- A possible second check of your vaccine records or Covid-19 test results
You will be given either some green stickers or a “required self-quarantine” paper to present at customs. Don’t lose this – your hotel will request it at check-in.
In my experience this all went by very quickly and efficiently. I was actually surprised by the rapidity. I was out the airport in less than 10 minutes!
You Should Read: 10 Ways to Get Through Customs Fast: Tricks From an Airline Pilot
Exiting St. Maarten
Unfortunately, every vacation has to end sometime.
My experience leaving St. Maarten was just as great as entering. Security and customs were a breeze, and my only complaint would be the lack of gate space and small selection of food past security.
Here again, you should show up early if your airline doesn’t allow online check-in, or if you need to check some bags to your final destination.
Time to pack your bags and visit St. Maarten
For those wondering, “is it a good time to visit St. Maarten?” or “what are the travel requirements for St. Maarten?”, the elimination of the Covid-19 test requirement for vaccinated passengers means it’s a great time to visit.
As you can see, I really enjoyed my time in SXM and I can’t wait to return.
Enjoy your worry-free vacation, and as always, feel free to let me know how it went in the comments below.