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What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

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USA-Virginia
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What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

I hope everybody have a great day! We will have a stop on the island for about 6 hours and it is not much time. What can be done in terms of seing island in such a short time. Beach, vistas,interesting place?

Any advise?

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Rhino Safari, take a taxi ride around the island with stops on Mullet Baech and Orient Beach

DonPedro71
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2. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

I assume you're coming into Phillipsburg on a cruise. Phillipsburg is typical shopping on any island. Lots of Jewelry, cameras, Cuban cigars, liquor and other souvenirs. In Phillipsburg itself, the Guavaberry Rum distillery store is the place I would go to get locally made liquor and their signature Guavaberry Coolada.

If you want to get out of Phillipsburg, you could take a short taxi ride north to Galleon. At Galleon, there is a very nice beach (though no place to change there), a butterfly farm, and horseback riding.

Just a bit further north is Orient beach. Lots of nice beachside restaurants and "active" things to do (parasailing, wakeboarding, sailboarding, jet skis, etc) and a nude beach if you're into that kind of thing.

There are better snorkeling experiences on other islands than St. Maarten/St. Martin. Any snorkeling activities the cruise might offer at St. Maarten will likely be better at other stops. However, at Grand Case, there is the semi-submersible... basically a glass bottomed and glass sided boat that goes over a coral bed and attracts lots of common coral reef fish. It's great for folks who don't snorkel, but want the snorkel experience (sort of). My kids love it. They don't have the patience or stamina to snorkel, so the semi submersible was perfect for them.

If you like shopping...and you are arriving on a Wednesday or Saturday, then go to Marigot on the french side because those are "market days." The Marigot Market is there everyday, but it is especially large on on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

St. Maarten perhaps hosts the most unique beach in the world...Maho Beach. It is at the end of the airport runway. You can feel the blast from jet engines as you stand on the beach....or at the very least, watch as planes fly literally a few dozen feet over your head.

By the way...I just came back from St. Maarten on Dec 28. This was my 6th trip down there. I stay for a week at a time...so I am not the best resource for trying to pack in as much as I can in half a day. I might do only half of the above in a week...but my idea of a vacation is sitting on the beach, reading a book, watching the kids play in the sand/surf, and going out to dinner.

USA-Virginia
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3. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Yes, we are coming on a cruise ship fro about 6 hour. Not much time a all.

So far it looks like the best option would be just take taxi to Orient beach and before coming back on ship see a little bit of Philipsburg.

Thank you for your input.

Windsor, Canada
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4. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Don,

We are in the planning stage for a 1 week, first time visit to St. Maarten.

My wife and I (both mid 50's) are looking to relax and tour the island.

Any recommendation towards accommodations primarily along the south shore would be appreciated.

Thanks, James

DonPedro71
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5. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Hey James...have a great time!

actually, yes...both places I have stayed on the island were on the south shore (Dutch) side of the island. And both place are next door to each other on Little Bay.

Divi Little Bay Beach Resort...I stayed at Divi this year simply because plane fare was $2000 more expensive to fly down on a Saturday than to fly down on a Thursday. I spent a few hundred to stay a few extra days and saved over $1000 on airfare. It was a great decision. And Divi was great. Divi is a complex of several buildings. Some buildings have timeshare suites of various sizes and a couple buildings are simple, but nice hotel rooms. I stayed in the hotel section of the resort. Very nice rooms, right on the beach. And it's a great beach! They have a couple of bars, a nice restaurant (seemed to be a buffet every night), a couple pools, and hot tubs. The one thing I would say about the hotel rooms is that they were small. But, as I said, I stayed in the hotel simply for a few days until my time share was ready on Saturday. If I was staying for a week with my family, I would have stayed in a bigger place.

The Belair Beach Hotel. This is very different than Divi. It is pretty much just a time share....though unused rooms can get rented out as hotel rooms. ALL the rooms are the same. But, they're all huge efficiency apartments. The rooms are somewhat dated and probably havent had much refurbishing since the '80s, but it does feature two bedrooms(a king and a full), two baths, a kitchenette, a living room with two sofa and a walk out balcony. Lower floors walk right out onto the beach. Upper floors look out over Little Bay. There is one pool and one restaurant/bar. I love the Belair, though, because I would prefer to do a little grocery shopping when I get there and cook my own breakfast and lunch in the kitchen. I keep beer in the fridge and the blender on the counter. I sit on the beach and read...or play with the kids in the sand...or looks for treasures on the beach.

I can strongly recommend either Divi or Belair. It just depends on what you're looking for. If its for more amenities and modern rooms, then choose Divi. If it's more space, then choose Belair.

Edited: 4:23 pm, January 02, 2013
Windsor, Canada
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6. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Thanks Don,

I will look into the two as both descriptions would work for us.

Thanks again for the timely reply.

James

Peachtree Corners...
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7. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

I really liked Little Bay as an area as well. It is very secluded and the beaches are nice. Some have complained about the beaches being washed away and small, but there's not a lot of people at either hotel and not crowded. The water was beautiful and I was very happy with the beach.

I had a very mediocre experience with Belair, but please see what everyone experienced in the reviews to make a decision. I'm certainly not "high maintenance" or "arrogant" as one of the latest reviewers suggests about people with less than stellar experiences, but I did have several issues that would make me look elsewhere and I shared that information. I used the reviews to make my decision to stay there since a lot of people did have good experiences. I may have just been unlucky with what happened and who I was dealing with.

I fully enjoying the island and am going to go back in the future. Everything else was spectacular. I do have some suggestions if you're staying a full week to think about.

Renting a car is really a must to explore the island, especially if you select Little Bay. I used Avis as a rental car company - was just fine. I used reviews again to avoid Thrifty due to horror stories. I got a small car - you really will not want something large. Note that gas stations on the Dutch side are in Guilders, so know the price isn't as outrageous as it first would seem. They accept cash only everywhere I went for gas, but they conveniently had ATMs right there.

If you really need cash, there are RBC and ScotiaBank facilities on the island if you happen to bank with one of those in Canada. You can get US$, Guilders or Euros out of ATMs. I'd suggest getting US$ since a lot of places on the French side accept US$ or Euros but at a 1:1 ratio - giving you much incentive to pay in US$ since it is a 30% savings right now.

If you pick a hotel where you have a kitchen and want to cook, I highly recommend Le Grand Marché. There are several on the island and you can get whatever you need. It is a very nice, clean grocery store - good prices and a nice selection. Prices, again, are in Guilders but they'll have prices in US$ below - it will ring up in Guilders, too, and then convert to US$ when paying.

Traffic can be interesting. Having a GPS for such a small island really does help you out. To avoid huge data charges, I turned my phone's data off but I pre-downloaded from Google Maps the entire island (and St Barths, too). You can choose to make sections of maps available offline - I put the square around the island and saved it. I then used my phone as a GPS device to at least show me the road names while driving and tell which roundabout exit to use. The roads on the north part of the island are very rough, so be careful especially around Orient Bay and Oyster Pond.

A trip to Philipsburg is better early in the morning right when cruise ships are arriving. The shops will start opening up around 8-9 AM, but the crowds will not be in full swing. I parked at Bob's Marina for 1$/hr. After dark, a lot of things shut down. A few restaurants are open, but I found going toward Simpson Bay at night offered a lot more options.

Watching the planes take off from Princess Juliana really is a highlight. You can get some great views from the Sunset Bar & Grill. Know the schedules - a lot of the larger planes are in action between 2-4 including an AF A340 and a KLM 747. I have tons of video of the planes taking off and the people running for cover who thought being on the beach behind the plane was a good idea. I went there twice because it was fun.

Have fun when you go!

Valrico, Florida
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8. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

Hi, everyone, I, too, am coming on a cruise in March and had this same exact question. We have two kids 8 and 11 and we thought the semi-submarine seemed old-ladyish (too tame for us), but we don't think my daughter can handel zip lining (she doesn't like heights). So, something in between. We are snorkeling the day before so a tame adventure that isn't snorkeling is more our game. I plan to keep shopping but if anything pops into anyone's head for us, I would appreciate the post. Thanks! Jen in Florida

9. Re: What to see on St-Martin/St.Maarten on 6 hours stop?

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