|It's not only necessary, it's a neccesity! The island is seven miles by seven miles in size (37 sq miles) and made for adventure. Explore! Duty-free shopping; incredible restaurants; 37 fabulous beaches, each one different from the next; Wednesday and Saturday market days in Marigot and Philipsburg; the Museums; the Zoo; the Butterfly Farm which is a wonderful experience especially for childrens; exciting casinos, where you can "invest" your money; dancing/clubs/nightlife; and, numerous activities on the island all require a car. As for car rental companies - several of the well-known brand name rental companies are represented on the island, as well as dozens of local companies on both sides of the island.
Both International and Foreign Driver's Licenses are acceptable for renting a car. Driving is on the right hand side, as we do in the USA. A major credit card or cash are acceptable for renting a car and most cars come with Unlimited Mileage. The main road around the island is 99% paved macadam, in good shape, and one lane in each direction. The unposted speed limit is 35 mph, which provides a relaxing ride. There are no super highways; but, people speed and carelessly pass cars in both directions. Drive carefully/obey the speed limit!
Several car rental companies have booths at the Airport Arrivals Terminal and although their representatives will be waiting there to attract your business, it is wise to reserve a car in advance, especially during the mid-December to mid-April high season. Also, make sure you rent a car with air-conditioning; you'll need it. By the way, if you seek something more adventurous, there is a Harley-Davidson dealer on the island who can provide you with some real "hogs." So, if you prefer to rent a "Monster Bike" or a scooter, make sure you wear a helmet. You can also rent mountain bicycles, vans, and even convertible jeeps. Be careful, the sun can be vicious!
Buses and Taxis: Small 10 person jitney buses run hourly from 6 a.m. to midnight between Philipsburg, Marigot, and Grand Case. The price is very reasonable, and, you can get on or off anywhere along the route. The negative is they stop frequently to pick up and discharge passengers so your trip tends to take longer than if you were driving yourself. They usually have a sign in the front windshield showing their final destination, Philipsburg, etc.
Taxis are numerous and reasonably priced. You can easily find one at the Airport Terminal exit. In fact, they will probably find you as you exit. The Dutch St. Maarten Taxi Association regulates the taxi industry on St. Maarten; in fact, they are the only taxi association on both sides of the island. Their members, approximately 200, wear a distinctive orange shirt/black pants uniforms and usually the taxis are 6-8 person vans. DO NOT except rides from people in cars who offer you a cheap price. The taxi association posts its rates on their website, www.taxistmaarten.com, where you can also make reservations. By the way, you can also book a taxi for private tours of the island.