as of May 30, 2018
When I landed in St Maarten I was nervous to see what the check-in process was going to look like after I had heard the airport had major damage from Hurricane Irma and the airport was being run out of tents. This sounds like it was going to be messy.
However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised and happy to say the staff and process were actually quite enjoyable. When you land, you will de-board the plane directly, so make sure you’re not still wearing your sweater as you will instantly get to feel the Caribbean heat. I personally enjoy exiting planes like this, especially when somewhere tropical.
Once you have exited, you will be directed to the shuttles (unless your plane parks closer to the arrival area). The shuttles are large and they always have enough waiting so they are loaded quickly. You then travel to the arrivals area. The drive was almost laughably short making you wonder why you didn’t just walk.
Upon entering the arrival area/customs, which is in a temporary building, you will proceed through the line and speak with a customs agent. They will welcome you to St. Maarten, ask if you are staying for business or pleasure and find out what location you are staying in. All pretty standard stuff. The line moves quickly and they have plenty of agents set up.
Directly behind the customs agents is the baggage claim. This process is all done manually, but they move “Caribbean Fast.” It’s actually a nice experience because when they bring out the luggage if you wave as it comes, they will bring it directly to you.
Once you have your luggage, follow the exit signs and it will lead you outside, directly in front of the parking lot and next to the car rental shuttles.
Thrifty had plenty of cars to choose from and their facilities faired well from the storm.
Thrifty provided me with a Hyundai Accent, which is the car I recommend if you are planning on leaving anything in your car while staying on the island. I always have camera equipment with me, so having a trunk without windows is very important. Otherwise, I would recommend the Hyundai i10 since it’s very tiny and easy to maneuver around the tiny roads and parking spaces.
During my last visit, Thrifty gave me a brand new Jeep Wrangler for a shoot I was doing. Having it was super fun and really made me feel like an islander. Too bad they didn’t remove the doors for me.