Explore two cultures on one island when you cruise to beautiful St. Maarten. At just 137-square-feet, you get two for the price of one as the island is divided in two. The Dutch side is St. Maarten (or Sint Maarten) and the French side is St. Martin. Regardless of where your ship docks, you can easily visit both sides of the island.
Dubbed the “Friendly Island” because of its hospitable ambiance, a host of delights are featured in both. Dive, snorkel, hike and climb historic Mount Concordia. Head to the Dutch side for duty-free shopping, forts, casinos, plus art galleries and the French side, for world-famous dining cuisine.
Referred to as the crossroads of the Caribbean, St. Maarten is located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, about 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. Many cruise lines offer St. Maarten and St. Martin port calls on Eastern Caribbean itineraries, which will take you in style and comfort to enjoy beautiful beaches, duty-free shopping and outdoor sports. Ideal for a family vacation, fun and unique activities include an exhilarating sailing race aboard America’s Cup winner, the Stars and Stripes or other contenders.
Dutch St. Maarten
Located near the cruise ship pier, Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten, offers a host of activities, including a visit to Cyrus W. Wathey Square, a bustling area filled with restaurants, jewelry stores and more. On Front Street, the main thoroughfare, you’ll find a plethora of duty-free shops and eateries. Looking for a sparkler? Front Street is also the place to shop for your favorite gems — diamonds, sapphires, rubies and more.
Adventures include touring the saltwater lagoons by kayak for a memorable experience. The majestic shoreline shelters a variety of wildlife including egrets, plovers, herons and pelicans. Discover a charming destination with classic examples of traditional West Indian architecture, including the beautiful pastel-colored houses with “gingerbread” colonial design and second-story verandas.
Philipsburg also boasts the famous mile-long Great Bay Beach, considered one of the best due to its size. Water sports available include pedal boats, snorkeling and more. White-sanded Simpson Bay Beach, is half-moon-shaped, and is a short drive west of Philipsburg. Beautiful Cupecoy Bay Beach is comprised of three white-sand beaches strung together with sandstone cliffs and shoreline caves.
Historic Fort Amsterdam was built in 1631 by the Dutch and today, offers an interesting glimpse into the past, with its cannons dating back to the 19th-century. It is also provides an important breeding site for brown pelicans. Families will love the St. Maarten Zoo where adults and children alike may delight in such residents as ocelot wildcats, bats, marmosets, owls and cabybara, which look like giant hamsters.
French St. Martin
French St. Martin is mostly duty-free and boasts many chic cafés and bistros. Delightful open-air markets will remind you of Paris, but with a tropical flare. Tucked next to a lovely cove, its capital, Marigot, attracts visitors with its beautiful white-sand beaches, romantic sunsets and eclectic boutiques.
If you are in the mood for food, you’re in luck as it’s considered the “culinary capital of the Caribbean,” featuring exquisite haute French cuisine. Grand Case, known for its incredible restaurants, is a favorite of both locals and visitors thanks to its decadent gourmet cuisine. Indulge in a delicious French meal after a fun day in the sun and cap off your evening by sipping local rum as you marvel at the famous “green flash” of the sun.
Experience an exciting Caribbean cruise to St. Maarten/St. Martin and discover the many delights of two nations and cultures on one thrilling vacation.
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