There are two types of cruising models. Saint Barth’s, which has no cruise port and remains untouched, only accessible by a small ferry service to Tortola and a tiny runway only used by small propeller airplanes and St Maarten or St Martin, with dozens of large ships coming in every day, and vomiting thousands of cruisers. Actually I have never enjoyed St Maarten.
Due to strong winds, our captain aboard the Silver Wind cancels the Saint Barths call and diverts to Saint Maarten. ¡¡¡Oh no¡¡¡. I really did not like the decision. Storms change plans, and make ships to reach unplanned destinations. Perhaps it is what happened in 1493, in Christopher Columbus second trip, when he discovered this island by chance. Spanish were not interested in the Island, and later on French and Dutch came and divided the island living peacefully.
At about 240 km away from Puerto Rico, St Maarten has become the prototype of what a Caribbean island should never become, in terms of massive cruise tourism. The only one in the area which I don´t personally have any interest in visiting it.
Things were not going to be different that morning. After arriving, I go out to the Silver Wind upper deck, and our tiny cruise ship was surrounded by, 7 immense cruise ships. It had to decide if I was going ashore. Looking to the harbour, thousands of people were walking towards the small capital called Philipsburg. Basically 1327 inhabitants live there.
Appart from two interior lagoons (Simpson Bay and another small one behind the capital of the Dutch part), the island is quite dry; But …. What are my fav things to do at St Maarten ?.
-Indulge at a beach resort like Kkao in ORIENT BEACH.
One of the most chic spot on the island, in the French area, Orient Beach is a huge beach with several resorts. A resort is a beach complex aimed to offer all beach services that someone may need. Beach chairs, umbrellas, water sports facilities, toilets and showers, and usually a kind of snack bar where drinks and food are served.
Resorts are usually private, and one has to purchase a day pass. Dozens of options and prices. In our case we also had lunch included which consisted of caribbean style ribs with a local sauce, roasted potatoes with coconut cream on top.
From the cruise port there are buses to the airport. It´s the perfect air planes geeks paradise. At the end of the runway, the planes pass so close to the beach that you can practically stretch out a hand and touch the landing gear of the incoming planes. It is one of the most important attraction on the Island. There are buses from the port, but a taxi will cost you little money.
–PHILIPSBURG at sunset
At literally two miles away from the cruise terminal Philipsburg is a quaint tiny “Caribbean like” village. Although usually crowded, it has a particularly charming touch at sunset. I love staying longer than the big ships departure, to breath and chill out.
This small semi-colonial spot, offers apart from two main sights ( the wooden courthouse, and a small cathedral), a long street full of exclusive boutiques. Tax free haven, and ideal for shoppers. But I feel that the most unforgettable thing is its urban beach, where, apart from its terraces and its views, we can enjoy relaxing under the palm trees, and the fishing boats.
–MARIGOT a french idyllic place at the Caribbean
￼ Marigot is the capital of the French side; written St Martin vs St Maarten,
it is European territory, with all the advantages of the single market. It is the place where almost all the citizens of the European Union live.
Deliciously local, it reminds me of a small village on the French Riviera, with Caribbean influences, located on a lush and quiet environment and fortunately away from from the cruise port. No cruise port at Marigot.
We can enjoy a secluded Marina, wooden houses, with flowers and balconies. Nice markets, and French cafés, patisseries and shops, perfect for buying perfumes and French articles at a very low price.
The port is a macro-complex with all kinds of facilities. From shops, bars, excursion agencies, taxis, sea taxis to the center of Philisburg, bus station etc. Also ferries to the nearby islands of Saint Barths, Anguilla and Saba. Quieter islands at a few minutes away by ferry. I recommend renting a car. The island is not a stressing place for drivers.
There are lots of shore excursions agencies, offering a wide range of tours. No free wifi at the port (I used the one at Hard Rock at Philipsburg), but there´s a place behind the tourist office, for about 4 dollars. Nothing is free in St Maarten.
Taxis are regulated and do not usually give problems. Right in front of the port exit, we can find the tourist office. Although strongly linked to Holland, the so-called “Dutch” part, is independent; with its own currency (Netherlands Antillean guilder), although dollar and euro are widely accepted.