Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Beautiful St. Maarten Removes Testing & Vaccination Rules

By Alexander Britell

There’s been a significant shift in the Caribbean’s testing policies, with just about every destination in the region having lifted its entry rules.

And now you can include St. Maarten.

Effective Nov. 1, the Friendly Island will no longer require travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result in order to enter the island.

The news was confirmed by St. Maarten Tourism Minister Omar Ottley this week.

It’s naturally a boost for the French side of St. Martin as well, which relies on the Dutch side’s Princess Juliana International Airport for the vast majority of its visitors.

Travelers will only need to meet the “usual immigration and border control requirements to visit the island,” Ottley said.

St. Maarten will, however, retain health officials at the airport to monitor passengers entering the country.

Travelers who may be experiencing flu-like signs or symptoms may be required to test before they depart the airport, the Minister said.

“St. Maarten has done exceptionally well in its fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) COVID-19. The Country is now fully engaged in restoring economic activity, and one key aspect of economic revitalization is the return of visitors in large numbers,” Ottley said. “At the same time, while we concentrate on rebuilding our Tourism destination, our work will continue to protect the population, including our visitors.”

The lifting of all restrictions comes after a public call by the St. Maarten Hotel and Tourism Association to do just that, arguing that the travel restrictions would limit the potential for St Maarten’s winter tourism season.

St. Maarten is the last Dutch Caribbean destination to remove its travel restrictions. Bonaire, St Maarten, Statia, Saba, Curacao and Aruba all previously removed their restrictions earlier this year.

“St. Maarten must remain vigilant and be mindful that before COVID-19, hotels and the island dealt with other transmittable diseases that were harmful to the economy and the people,” Ottley said.

For more, visit St. Maarten at

The Ultimate Caribbean Beach Bar Hotel Is Making a Comeback

It’s hard to think of a more legendary beach bar in the Caribbean than “Soggy”, as Jost Van Dyke’s bucket-list British Virgin Islands beach bar, the Soggy Dollar, is affectionately known.

And while the Soggy Dollar Bar long ago completed its comeback from the storms of 2017, one of its essential components did not – the hotel.

But later this year, the Sandcastle Hotel is finally reopening its doors as Sandcastle at Soggy Dollar.

Sandcastle, which first opened its doors in 1970, was for nearly a half century the Caribbean’s ultimate “beach bar hotel,” a place where you could enjoy your Painkillers by day, walk a few steps across the sand and retire for the night (then wake up, walk over and repeat the ritual).

“There’s only ever been one original… wake up in White Bay, stay at Soggy,” the bar said in a statement. “The long-awaited return of the iconic Sandcastle Hotel at Soggy Dollar.”

The original Sandcastle had six bungalow-style rooms on the sand; the bar has not yet announced the number of units for the relaunch.

What won’t change is the essence of Sandcastle — a toes-in-the-sand boutique hotel that’s the essential way to experience the unrivaled joys of this white-sand oasis in the British Virgin Islands.

The Sandcastle’s return means there will soon be two terrific places to stay on White Bay, with Sandcastle joining the just-opened Hideout, a luxury villa resort that’s also attached to a top beach bar, Hendo’s Hideout.

Rates and reservation details will be revealed shortly, the bar said.

For more, visit the Sandcastle.

Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean.

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