A few months back Sanjay and I went cruising through the Caribbean on our first ever cruise ship adventure. As a result of that we were lucky enough to travel to quite a few tropical islands, including beautiful Saint Martin or Sint Maarten if you prefer the Dutch name…There are two sides to the island – The French side and the Dutch side and both have their own ‘capital city’ Philipsburg (Dutch) and Marigot (French).
The only downside to exploring places while on a cruise ship (in our opinion) is that the ship doesn’t tender for long, in this case we were only able to spend about 7 hours on the island before we had to get back on board. So we crammed as much as we could into that time and here are our St Maarten highlights…
Orient Bay Beach
Some claim that this is the is islands most beautiful beach and we certainly thought it was stunning! The water is turquoise and clear, the powdered white sand is lined with tiki huts, colourful beach chairs and great places to eat. One thing you should know is that this is a clothes be damned (nudist) beach!.. Something I didn’t know prior to arriving haha 😉 However, the beach was almost deserted apart from a couple of local families when we arrived and everyone to my relief was wearing swimwear! As you can probably tell I would’ve felt extremely awkward if they weren’t!
Sanjay and I spent just over an hour here, had lunch and took a quick dip, it was also ridiculously hot so I had a couple of these delicious beauties to cool me down!
Virgin mango margaritas 😀
St Martin is famous for its tax free shopping and the most popular place to fulfil your shopping desires is Front Street, which is located in central Philipsburg. (I’m proud to say I didn’t go overboard and only purchased a pair of jeans…that was it!) In addition to Front Street, located near by are Old Street, filled with gift and art shops and Back Street which houses the local market, filled with souvenirs and inexpensive trinkets 🙂
If you’re looking for a beach to relax, this one probably isn’t for you! I’m sure a lot of you already know about Maho Beach but for anyone that isn’t familiar, it’s well known for it’s very close proximity to the St Maarten airport, which gives beach goers a thrilling experience as the planes fly over! The bigger planes tend to land in the afternoon but check the flight schedules for the best time to plane spot. We went there in the morning as we were trying to squeeze as much as possible into our day trip, we saw some pretty decent sized planes as well as some small ones but didn’t spot the giant jumbo jets unfortunately!
Here’s an image courtesy of stuff.co.nz of a large plane, taken from a great angle, coming into land.
Is home to the local government departments and boasts a casual Creole ambiance. Although the architecture is very colonial, the city is full of lively cafes, restaurants and boutiques. If you’re into high end shopping this is where you’d come.
Built in 1789, its primary function was defending the harbour warehouses, where supplies such as rum, coffee, sugar cane and salt were stored. The fort was subsequently abandoned, ruined, restored and abandoned again, it was during this time that it also became a battleground when the English had come to the island to loot the warehouses. Following that, the fort which overlooks Marigot Bay was abandoned once again and in 1993 restoration began. It is a bit of a climb to get to the top of Fort Louis, including stairs and on a ridiculously hot day it can prove a bit difficult… Sanjay and I were very shiny by the end of it!!! 😉
The Border Obelisk
A monument symbolising when the Dutch and the French signed an agreement, dividing the island into two. The French were given the north which is two thirds of the island and the Dutch were given the south. There is a clause in the treaty which states people and goods can circulate freely between both sides of the island.
Well like I said we crammed as much as we could into our few hours on the island and I have to say we came away feeling quite good about how much exploring we had actually managed to do!…If you, like us are visiting St Maarten from off of a cruise ship I hope these highlights give you a good indication of how much you want or don’t want to pack into your day!
Happy travels, Priti X