Both offer a little European culture and a lot of laid-back Caribbean ambience.
With soft trade winds cooling the subtropical climate, it is easy to while away the day on one of 37 beaches or shop in Philipsburg’s Front Street and the rues of the very French Marigot. Luck is a commodity at St Maarten’s 13 casinos but chance plays no part in finding a good meal at the many world-class eateries. The isle’s biggest asset is its friendly natives.
When the cruise ship pulls into this Caribbean port, passengers will get to visit two countries – Dutch St Maarten and French St Martin.
Cruise passengers don’t need to wander far from port to stroll the boardwalk and shops of Philipsburg. Also nearby is the 12-Metre Challenge. Experience is not necessary to have a good time sailing crafts that once competed in the America’s Cup Race.
Or, relax on the beach. There is one to suit every taste but one of the most beautiful and happening shorelines is Orient Beach. Explore the island – it has so much to offer. Sample the gourmet cuisine in the charming village of Grand Case. Hire a taxi or car and discover the island. Be forewarned that the roads aren’t the greatest and traffic can be a nightmare.
• Le Fort St Louis
• Pic du Paradis
• Plantation Mont Vernon
• Loterie Farm
• Butterfly Farm
St Maarten Office of Tourism
Vineyard Office Park Building, WG Buncamper Road 33, St Maarten
A major port of call, Philipsburg’s cobblestone streets are full of jewellery, electronics, liquor, cigar and designer clothing shops. Besides Front Street and the Maho Shopping Plaza, there are shops, a market and some fine art galleries in Marigot, located on the island’s French side. For crafts and souvenirs, browse the Philipsburg Market Place on Back Street.
Foodies delight – St Maarten dishes up some of the Caribbean’s best vittles. Though the French claim cuisine kudos, the Dutch-influenced side has several award-winning restaurants. For cheap eats, try a lolo, one of the seafood/barbecue shacks in Grand Case.
When to go:
Temperature averages about 28°C (82°F) year round with cooling tradewinds. Rainy season is August through October, but the hurricane season is late May until early November.
1km (0.6 miles).