Port of Call Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Cruise ships dock at the AC Wathey Pier in Great Bay. Downtown Philipsburg is an easy 15 minute walk from the pier. (Or a 5 minute trip by water taxi).
Philipsburg Shore Excursions
St Maarten is a duty-free island with no sales taxes. Prices on electronics, jewelry and liquor are amazingly low. Philipsburg's mile long Front Street, together with the many side-streets running down to Back Street, are a shopper's dream.
Town Beach fronts the seafront of Philipsburg, and is an easy walk from downtown. It's a pretty beach, with lots of facilities, and a good view of your cruise ship across the bay.
A very exciting beach, but not on account of enormous surf, insane banana-boat rides, or happening beach bars! The thrill at Maho Beach is watching huge aeroplanes screaming close overhead, seconds before they land at Princess Juliana International Airport. It's actually quite disappointing when the small dot high in the sky approaches and finally you realize it's a small private plane, not a monster jumbo-jet. About 5 miles west of Philipsburg.
Orient Beach is a lovely (but very busy) 2 mile long sweep of soft powdery sand in St Martin, the French side of the island. Despite its location on the island's windward east coast, facing the Atlantic, the water is generally clear and calm, perfect for swimming, thanks to the protection of an offshore reef. The beach has lots of rental shops for water sports including parasailing, waterskiing and snorkeling. There are numerous beach bars and cafes. Prudes beware - at its southern end, the beach has a popular nudist section.
The capital of St Martin, Marigot is filled with chic boutique shops, excellent restaurants, lively bars and friendly cafes. Marina Royale, on the seafront, is packed with expensive yachts, well worth a wander for a gawp!
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