Goes Ashore in the Caribbean
to see & things to do
Part Dutch and
part French, St. Martin/Sint Maarten is the smallest territory in
the world shared by two sovereign states. Living
in peaceful harmony, the only indication you’re traveling from
Holland to France (or vice versa) is by the signs. The
pier facilities are located at Great Bay Port, just outside
Philipsburg. Only a few vessels continue to anchor and use the
Captain Hodge Wharf’s tender landing site in the heart of town.
A boardwalk links the pier at Pointe Blanche with downtown
Philipsburg and water taxis whisk passengers the half-mile distance.
Taxis meet all
arriving ships and are the best way to get around independently. The
beaches are the primary attraction and there isn’t much else to
see in the island's interior. Sightseeing
tours usually include a stop to shop and wander around Marigot on
the French side.
Many ships offer
water sports-oriented excursions and one of the favorites is the
America’s Cup 12-Meter Race. Participants
board and crew one of two America’s Cup yachts and the highlight
is an actual race.
available in ten casinos on the Dutch side of St. Martin/Sint
Marigot is the
spot boasting French boutiques selling perfumes, luxury goods, and
hard to find wines and spirits. However,
Philipsburg’s Front Street is currently the island’s shopping
mecca. St. Martin/Sint
Maarten is one of the world’s truly duty-free ports and, with
dozens of shops to choose from, prices on electronics, liquor, and
jewelry rival St. Thomas and some are lower. Look
for the Guavaberry Company and try a taste of the island that you
can take home.
A $50 million
waterfront development resembling a festive Caribbean marketplace
with shops and restaurants beckons disembarking passengers.
It’s at the
beach where the differences between Dutch and French Martin/Sint
Maarten are most apparent. As
on the French Riviera, there are clothing-optional beaches on the
French side, the most famous is Orient Beach. Grand
Case Beach is lined with seafood restaurants and boasts white sand.
The dozens of
Dutch side beaches are more family flavored, but are becoming more
liberal regarding topless and naturalist sunbathers. Just
outside Philipsburg are popular, but often crowded, Great Bay Beach
and Little Bay Beach—terrific for snorkelers.
On the west side of the island, palm shaded Mullet Bay Beach
is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Water
sports equipment is available for rent at Mullet Bay Resort.
Noted for spectacular sunrises, Dawn Beach is also well known
for the underwater beauty created by its offshore reefs. The
changing facilities of large resorts are often available for a fee.
For a refreshing
drink and quick dip after shopping, visitors need venture no further
than the beach adjacent to the stores in Philipsburg. Lounge chairs
and umbrellas are available for hire and numerous watering holes
line the shore.
Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call 2013 is all you need
to plan your days ashore, PLUS a cruise primer section and cruise
line profiles by Cruise Diva, Linda Coffman
Back to Caribbean
Ports of Call