St. Barts Time Zone, Currency, Banking
St. Martin / St. Maarten is in the Atlantic Time Zone (GMT-4). When the eastern US is on Eastern Standard Time, the time in the island is one hour later.
When the eastern US switches to Eastern Daylight Time, the time in the island is the same. Local time is usually indicated in the 24-hour format (1:15 p.m. is 13:15 or 13h15). This island does not convert to daylight savings time.
As with most of the Caribbean, there is also something called "Island Time". This means that things may actually take a lot longer than one expects. The best way to deal with Island Time is to simply relax and enjoy yourself while you are waiting.
CURRENCY AND BANKING
The official currency of French St. Martin is the Euro. In Dutch St. Maarten, it is the Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf). However, US dollars, traveler's checks (which are increasingly rare) and major credit cards are generally accepted throughout the island at local exchange rates. Note that although Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, many merchants do not accept American Express or Discover cards.
You will usually get a better rate of exchange at local banks, currency exchange offices (bureaux de change), or ATMs (called ABMs or distributors des billets on the French side), which are usually found at airports and banks, than you will at hotels. Major banks are located in Marigot, but most towns have at least one bank with an ATM. Banks are generally open 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00, Monday-Friday. Some are also open on Saturday mornings.
Although there is not a lot of crime in St. Martin, visitors should not leave cash or essential items unattended. Most hotels have a place to store important documents or valuables in rooms or at the front desk, and most villas and condominiums have safes.
A universal currency converter is available at oanda.com.
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