St Maarten is a fantastic port of call aboard a Caribbean cruise, with a truly diverse culture that is split between Dutch and French heritage. Philipsburg is the Dutch capital of the island and the arrival point for visiting cruise ships, whilst Marigot is the capital of the French side.
No formal boundaries exist between the Dutch and French regions, only a single welcoming sign tells you when you have crossed from one country to another. One noticeable difference that you’ll also see, is that the French like to spell it ‘St Martin’, whereas the Dutch opt for the spelling ‘St Maarten’.
For those who didn’t know, St Maarten is an island with a staggering 37 beaches! Every single one of its beaches is fantastically unique and reflects the rich diversity of the island itself. Make sure you come prepared for diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kite surfing and more. Don’t forget to come with a towel in hand so you can relax on the golden sandy beaches afterwards and soak up the Caribbean sun.
As the largest saltwater lagoon in the Caribbean, Simpson’s Bay is a popular attraction for a lagoon kayaking experience. Once the safety brief is complete the kayaking will commence and you can head towards Bellevue mangroves and the water border separating the two sides of the island. Orient Beach is the largest and most popular of all St Maarten’s 37 beaches and is brimming with tourist amenities, including beach restaurants, hotels, shops and water sports.
The village of Grand Case has retained all its authenticity and earned a reputation as the gourmet capital, making it a popular destination for those who visit the island. Grand Case really comes alive during the ‘Mardis de Grand Case’ and the Harmony Night festival, when Caribbean jazz bands and orchestras parade together, alongside stalls exhibiting local crafts and cuisine.
Explore Marigot and discover old Creole houses which have been restored in traditional Saint Martinoise style, often incorporating luxury boutiques. Leading luxury brands from around the world can be found here and the best part of all is that it’s all duty free – perfect for the shopaholics amongst us!
From a Golden Eagle catamaran and the underwater experience of a semi-submarine to the blissful serenity of a glorious day at the beach, St Maarten presents a fabulous day under the glistening sun. A true great of the Caribbean, St Maarten is rapidly becoming a regular feature for many cruise operators and one not to be missed for a spectacular day of exploration.