Princess Juliana International AirportIATA: SXM ICAO: TNCM, Tel: +1 721 545-2060, (http://www.pjiae.com/home.html). This airport on the Dutch side is the larger airport on the island and one of the Caribbean's busiest. The runway was very short, but has been extended and the terminal rebuilt, opening in December 2006. Planes land and take off unusually close overhead to sunbathers at Maho Beach see related item under "Stay Safe" below. Maho Beach itself is a tourist draw for die-hard aviation enthusiasts for this reason, and the airport is something of a holy grail for them. You don't want your hotel too near. There were over 1.6 million visitors that came through Princess Juliana Airport in 2005. It is not only a beautiful airport, but a very busy airport, especially on the weekends when many timeshare owners are coming and going.
The other airport is near Grand Case to the north, and primarly serves inter-island flights, commercial and private.
When leaving St. Martin by plane, travelers pay an exit tax at the Phillipsburg airport. Travellers departing on international flights pay US$30. Exempt are passengers flying with certain airlines, transit passengers and children under two. This tax is included in some airfares but for others travelers must pay at the airport. As of November 2007, US Airways does cover this tax. The exit tax to the other Netherlands Antilles Islands such as Saba and St. Eustatius is only $10. The exit tax does not apply to in transit travelers.
Last year, over 1.3 million people visited the island by cruise ship, landing mostly in Philipsburg on what used to be the "Dutch side".
Since 2005 they've used an extended pier built by a 3-year project. Four cruise ships can visit at once.
As of July 2010, they finished construction of a second nearby pier catering to next-generation mega-cruise ships.
Dredging continues next to the piers, to assure enough depth for those ships. This generates huge piles of sand on shore, being used to build Philipsburg's infrastructure.
Very-occasionally, ships moor or anchor off-shore.
Those ships make the city of Philipsburg the busiest city on the island. In "high season", you may see 6 or so ships, offloading perhaps 18,000 or more passengers. In low season, one occasional ship is more common. You can find usually-accurate schedules for this and many ports and dates at (http://www.cruisett.com/p...).
The main cruise docks for Philipsburg are approximately a one mile walk to the east end of Front Street leading into the main shopping area. However, a short walk from the cruise ship docks you'll find:
A fleet of taxis and cars/guides for hire as noted under "Get Around" below.
A water taxi service....continuously running boats in a round-robin route to Philipsburg...in either order, to a dock near the east end of Front Street and another opposite the courthouse on Front Street center, before returning to the cruise ship area. Both stops offer ready access to a large beach and Front Street shopping. Several boats run while multiple cruise ships are there. You can buy single-trip wristbands at modest cost, or wrist-bands for unlimited travel all day for slightly more. You'll see long lines when many cruise ships are docked, but the number of water taxis employed rises to meet demand, so you'll rarely have a long wait.
Marigot port on the "French side" is limited to hosting one small-sized cruise ship at a time, but is also served by attractive marinas supporting many yachts of all sizes. Most inter-island ferry service also arrives/departs at Marigot.