The beautiful island of St. Maarten is one of the most popular ports to visit on a cruise when cruising to the Eastern Caribbean. If you are stopping in St. Maarten on an upcoming cruise, here are a few options on how you can spend your day in port.
Water Taxi to Downtown
For $7, you can get an all day pass for the water taxi that leaves right near where the cruise ships dock. The water taxis depart and arrive every 5-10 minutes and will take you over to a great family beach and the downtown area for shopping.
Kids 3 and under are free and it is cheaper than taking a cab if you wish to go downtown for shopping. When you disembark from your ship, start walking towards the shops and look for the large “Water Taxi” sign on the left. You can’t miss it.
Maho Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the world. Situated directly across from the street from the runway at the international airport, you can sit on the beach and have airplanes fly as low as 50 feet directly over you as they come in for landing.
Since beach area is not very large, it can get very crowded when several cruise ships are in port. The larger planes also cause larger than normal waves when they fly over so it is not the best beach for small children. There is a restaurant and several places to get drinks and watch the planes come in. A one way cab ride from the port will cost anywhere from $8-10 a person, depending on the size of your group.
Another unique thing about St. Maarten is that there are actually two countries on the island. The cruise port is located on the Dutch side and is known as St. Maarten and the French side is St. Martin.
Taking an island tour is a great way to learn about the culture of both countries and learn how they have lived peaceably for almost 400 years. You won’t even realize that you are entering the other country if you miss the sign since there is no physical border between the two countries.
They drive in the right hand side of the road so don’t be afraid to rent a car and explore the island on your own.
Sail and Snorkel
The cruise lines and 3rd party shore excursions companies offer a variety of sailing and snorkeling excursions in St. Maarten. The beautiful blue water is crystal clear and great for seeing an abundance of sea life.
Creole Rock has a reef that extends a mile offshore and the water is shallow and calm, excellent for snorkeling. Tour groups to this spot are often limited to 15, so you won’t be stuck among the crowds.
When you do go to St. Maarten, you should probably know ahead of time about Orient Beach. Orient Beach, located on the French side, is one of the most popular beaches on the island and was the #1 booked shore excursion on our last cruise.
I know several cruisers who stopped here not knowing that the beach was clothing optional. One told me that not one person on their tour wanted to get off the bus, so they just skipped it. While many have no problem with it, it is something you should know about if you would be uncomfortable in that setting.
Whatever you decide to do while in St. Maarten, we hope you enjoy this beautiful tropical island as much as we do every time we visit.
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