St. Maarten is home to a variety of attractions, from historical sites to natural wonders. Visitors can explore the island's colonial history at Fort Amsterdam, or take a tour of the island's many churches. Nature lovers can explore the island's lush rainforest, or take a boat tour to view the island's many coral reefs. There are also several museums and galleries located around the island, offering a variety of cultural experiences.
Along Great Bay, you’ll find that the boardwalk area has tons of options. Shop, dine, or rent water-sports equipment right there on the beach. Or, relax and just hang out under the picnic tables - great for people watching. For those last-minute planners out there, this is a great jumping off point to figure out your day.
As soon as you get off your ship, you’ll find various options to get around the island via water taxi. We recommend this scenic option versus boring cab rides. For just $6, you can get one-day tickets for unlimited rides. You’ll find stops at The Captain Hodge Wharf, Walter Williams Jetty, and Bobby’s Marina.
For the adventure seekers, you’re in luck. There are numerous ways to take in the island’s beauty while also getting that heart pumping. Your “dry” adventures will include zip-lining, rock climbing, hiking and more. If you’re looking to get wet, some of the many tours offered include jet packs, fly boards, jet-skis, snorkels, scuba, and much more.
The island is relatively small (37 square miles) compared to other Caribbean destinations, so you’ll find most St Maarten beaches are easily accessible from your cruise port. There are a total of 37 beaches near Philipsburgh, so choose wisely. See our Beaches section below for details.
It’s likely that St Maarten will be densely packed with other cruise passengers during your visit. If you’re looking to stretch your arms without accidentally slapping another cruiser, consider island hopping. You’ll have a few islands to choose from. The closest and most popular destination via ferry is the island of Anguilla. You’ll find it’s as sexy as its name. The ferry ride to Anguilla is roughly 25 minutes. Slightly further (45 minute water ferry) is St Barts. And close to an hour and a half away is the lesser-known island of Saba. This option is very popular for outdoor enthusiasts looking for authentic scuba diving and hiking experiences.
Cruise passengers favor St Maarten in their hunt for jewelry, liquor and electronic products. As with similar Caribbean ports, you’ll benefit from the island’s “duty-free” status. You can find more about St Maarten shopping below.
Marigot is the capital of the French side of the island, St Martin. Here’s where you’ll find high-end boutiques as well as small vendors selling local crafts. The Marigot Market (on Boulevard de France) offers spices, crafts, meats and fresh fish (maybe not advisable to bring back onboard), and other local favorites. The romantic outdoor market is located directly downtown and on the waterfront.
The Boardwalk Shopping Mall is located in the heart of Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It is a two-story mall with a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars. There are several souvenir shops that offer a wide selection of items, from t-shirts and hats to jewelry and local crafts. Prices are generally reasonable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting.
Just a 20-minute walk from your ship, this cobblestone street is a must-do for anyone looking to shop while in St Maarten. From jewelry to popular designers (think Gucci, Cartier, Versace, etc) to crystal-ware, here’s where you’ll want to be. The open-air venue is on the boardwalk and offers a very scenic shopping experience. Feel free to use credit cards at the larger retailers, but some smaller vendors only accept cash.
This could possibly be the most popular beach on social media. If you’ve ever seen an image of, what looks like, an airplane disaster about to happen while bikini-clad onlookers raise their hands in the air, then you’ve seen Maho Beach. Located directly in front of the airport (and runway), you’ll find this popular attraction for thrill seekers. Sunset Bar & Grill is situated right there on the beach in case you need a couple drinks before witnessing this for yourself.
At Mullet Bay, you’ll find plenty of amenities for the family, including restrooms, food, and umbrellas for rent. It’s been called the “most beautiful beach in Sint Maarten” by some.
There are 34 other beach options available to you while on the island. Depending on your preferences, you’ll find some better choices than others. You can catch a spectacular sunrise at Dawn Beach. Or, find extra-calm waters at Anse Marcel Beach. Amateur diver enthusiasts should head to Lucas’ Bay, while snorkelers should try Plum Bay Beach. Water sports fans should check out Guana Bay and hardcore surfers will be drawn to Burgeaux Beach.
Simpson Bay Beach is a popular beach near Philipsburg, St. Maarten cruise port. This beach is located on the Dutch side of the island and is known for its stunning white sand and crystal clear waters. It's a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, and it's also home to a few restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a delicious meal and a few drinks while taking in the stunning views.
Orient Bay is very popular among cruise passengers. Partially due to the abundance of water-sports activities available there. But, mostly thanks to the “clothing optional” portion of the beach. If you happened to forget your bathing suit on the ship, have no fear. You’ll be accepted among your fellow-naked sunbathers here. Not surprisingly, it’s located on the French side of the island.. oh, la la.
Great Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It is a long stretch of white sand beach that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. The beach is also home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops, making it a great place to spend the day. Visitors can also take a boat tour of the bay to get a closer look at the area's stunning scenery.
Front Street is the main street in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It is a bustling street lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Visitors can find a variety of souvenirs, clothing, and other items along the street. It is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or have a few drinks. Front Street is a great place to explore and take in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean.
Simpson Bay Lagoon is a popular tourist attraction in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It is a large lagoon that is home to a variety of marine life, including fish, turtles, and dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lagoon to get a closer look at the wildlife. The lagoon is also a great place to go swimming, fishing, and kayaking. It is a great place to spend the day and take in the beauty of the Caribbean.
The Philipsburg Boardwalk is a popular tourist attraction in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It is a long stretch of boardwalk that runs along the waterfront, offering stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Along the boardwalk, visitors can find a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars. It is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and take in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean.
Fort Amsterdam is a historic fort located in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It was built in 1631 by the Dutch West India Company and served as a military base and trading post. Today, the fort is a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into the island's colonial past. Visitors can explore the fort's grounds, which include a museum, a chapel, and a replica of the original fort.
With multiple docks, the terminal can handle up to six large cruise ships at a time. That amounts to nearly 20,000 passengers. After disembarking, you’ll have four immediately options. The terminal area offers substantial opportunity to shop, eat, or browse. These vendors are good for convenience purchases, but not necessarily long-term visits. Option two is to jump on a water taxi and head downtown or one of multiple other coastal stops. Third, you can participate in an organized tour. Your guide will be here waiting to start your adventure. Or finally, you can walk 20 minutes to the downtown area.