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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in the Caribbean
Sights to see & things to do

St. Martin/Sint Maarten

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. 

Gaming is available in ten casinos on the Dutch side of St. Martin/Sint Maarten.


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
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