St Martin reviews
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Nice island, free internet, March 15, 2013
|lathamgal saw things this way:|
Pros: Lovely beaches
FYI: If you do not pay for internet on ship, go to the island library, a 20-minute walk downtown. Very safe. The library is free. Just enter the open air space, grab a chair and log on.
Also in St Thomas, for $3 unlimited, a place next to sky ride. All the crew go there. Small internet café sign on street.
Nassau: the Festival entry building all free internet.
It would be a gorgeous place without the crowds, December 15, 2011
|Bydesignprez saw things this way:|
Pros: Quaint locations, European culture
Cons: Crowds and traffic jams
I loved the islands but as part of a throng of many thousands of cruise ship passengers - we were the problem.
We walked off the ship and walked to Phillipsburg in the relative cool of the morning. The walk downtown was not too bad although I would not describe it as very scenic. We found and shared a taxi tour (discounted over what was charged at the dockside). In the end - six of us in the taxi enjoyed a 3-4 hour tour around the island.
We visited Orient Beach and I took a picture of the "Nude Beach" sign. A nude man showed up on schedule (the driver said he "greeted" each tour), but as a male I saw nothing worth looking at so don't get your hopes up there!.
The driver was very obliging in stopping wherever people wanted to take pictures and we spent an hour in Marigot. I particularly enjoyed the visit to the beach by the airport as it is amazing to be so close to large incoming jets. We did not receive much tour type information, but had a good look around and arrived back in the traffic bedlam that is Phillipsburg. It was amazing driving to get us through the gridlock to the drop off point. We hummed and hawed over having lunch and in the end took the water bus back to the dock so we could eat for free on the boat. Of course, the crew of the water taxi hit us up for a tip....
I am told the shopping is good in St. Martin, but I did not buy anything and did note that there were huge disparities of wealth between the expensive hotels and villas and the decrepit roads and local homes. hillipsburg seemed relatively well looked after and in hindsight I wished we had spent a bit of time looking around as it seemed quite picturesque once you got past the souvenir and jewelry stores. The waterfront boardwalk was a popular place to see and be seen and you could rent Segways to roar around on. I wish I had tried that as it looked fun.
Same as the other islands in the area, December 24, 2010
|razy saw things this way:|
Pros: The bargaining
Cons: Close to ship shopping
Get away from the ship......Get into town for shopping
Go to French side of this island!, December 17, 2010
|cheepskate saw things this way:|
Pros: Open border -- bus $4 RT pp -- taxi $20 RT
Cons: Phillipsburg is one large 'outlet' level shopping area
Marigot on the French side is like being in a coastal French village. (Euro is used here, but currency conversion is fair
Phillipsburg is like going to an interstate outlet mall,
although way more scenic.
...Or the cruise ship-arranged tours will work just fine.
Orient Beach and Maho Beach experiences, October 3, 2010
|mitsugirly saw things this way:|
Pros: Maho Beach and watching the big planes come in
Cons: Poor looking town and traffic
We arrived at St Maarten as scheduled and decided (prior to the cruise) to do the island on our own to just visit the destinations we were interested in.
The taxi cab station was a short walk from the port where you sat down according to the “signs” as to where you wanted to go. Taxis were there waiting and pulling in and out with not much of a wait.
We decided to go to Orient Beach first. Our trip cost us $18 to get there. I have to say that the island was okay, but not like I had pictured it (like a piece of paradise). We were dropped off at Pedro’s Place and decided to walk to the right toward the "nude” part of the beach. We only encountered a handful of nude sunbathers and a nude man walking along the beach. People were right about the “scenery” there … we didn’t encounter any “hot bodies” running around and the closest girl I saw with a decent body had on a thong bathing suit and a top. Then you have the two 300+ pound ladies baring it all. It was interesting to say the least, but didn’t bother me one bit. We walked all the way to the end where it started to get rocky. The beach itself was okay, but not the paradise beach I had imagined.
We walked back down close to where we had come in and just a little further and decided we would put our stuff there. There really wasn’t a need to rent chairs because we had planned on staying in the water most of the time. We encountered a few small fish in the water, but there were no reefs anywhere, so not much to write home about. The beach was not crowded at all. There were some older ladies topless on this side as well walking around and laying in the beach chairs. So you will encounter nudity even in the non-nude areas.
There were two dogs running loose everywhere on the beach and my husband LOVES animals so he made friends quickly with them.
About 11 a.m. we decided to head over to Maho Beach to watch the planes come in. I knew this was going to be the highlight of my day and had long waited to witness the low-flying planes firsthand that I had watched so many times on YouTube.
We arrived at Maho to a fairly large crowd already plane watching. Just as we pulled up, we had just enough time to get out of the van and walk down to the beach (climbing over all the big rocks) and along came a really BIG plane. It was amazing! They started coming in one after another. Small planes and big planes arrived over and over.
Then when we finally got a break, we decided to walk over to Sunset and get a bite to eat and a drink. The food was good and the service was very good as well. Sunset had plenty of space to eat even though all tables seem to fill up quickly, people quickly ate and went back down to the beach for more plane spotting. I believe we spent a total of $28 plus tip on the food and three alcoholic drinks. Sunset also has a garden hose hooked up on the deck that you were welcome to hose the sand off of you. It was a nice touch and very appreciated (along with inside bathrooms).
There were two young girls (probably in their 20’s) that were sunbathing and walking up and down the beach with their tops off. They were Paris Hilton imposters with the bleached out white short hair and a very small furry dog they were acting like it was their child. So you will see nudity there as well, just not as much. I believe Sunset does offer a free drink for those that choose to go topless there (girls, of course).
As for the beach … I had read that it really wasn’t much of a beach, so I didn’t have high expectations when I arrived, but I actually enjoyed it. It wasn’t as bad as I had pictured it to be. Yes, there wasn’t much beach area and there were a lot of rocks, but I still liked it for some reason. You don’t go far out into the water before it drops off and gets deep quickly. Maybe not the best place for small children or inexperienced swimmers (even though I saw a lot of small children there).
There were some REALLY big waves coming in there. It was kind of rough and would knock you down at times. Sometimes it was hard to gain your footing from the waves and they did seem to go higher and higher hitting the huge rocks down below and working its way up. I can see where this beach would not be a good choice to swim for certain people.
After a little more time of plane watching and a little bit of swimming, we figured we should probably head back toward the ship so that we could spend a little bit of time shopping right there at the port. I believe it was probably around 2-2:30 when we walked back to Sunset to try to get a cab.
Along the way back, we decided instead of taking the beach and rocks way, we would walk the concrete divider instead (since we were already at the top of the rocks anyhow from watching the last plane come in). Since we were in port about a week or so after Hurricane Earl had passed, there was A LOT of sand still on the roads. It made a narrow road to begin with even narrower. If someone was walking in the street, a car could not pass. We walked along the concrete about half way and I decided to look back to see if any cars were coming and jump down into the street and walk to make it easier.
About the time I looked back, there was a gap in the concrete …YEP, down I went in between the gap. I completely scuffed up my entire left leg from my toes to my thigh … blood everywhere and stinging pretty bad. My right foot, third toe must have taken a hit because it instantly swelled pretty big. My right hand came down because of instinct to break the fall and took the worse hit. (By the time I made it back to the port, you couldn’t even see three of my knuckles, my hand was swollen so bad it looked like it could pop any minute now, and my palm was completely bruised up).
All I can say is thank goodness for eating SO MANY MEALS on the NCL Epic prior to this island and gaining a little added cushion to the belly (LOL). I truly believe it saved my face from something that could have turned out worse than it did. My chin was the last thing to hit and stop on the concrete. Nothing like hearing in your head a bone in your face hitting hard concrete. YUCK. My husband came running over (he had been walking ahead of me and only caught the last half of my fall as I screamed and he witnessed me hitting my face). Thank goodness for his quick reaction of grabbing me because I was seeing stars at that point and I think I would have passed out if he had not grabbed me in time and sat me down.
After sitting for awhile, I hopped over to the entrance of Sunset and ask a lady there with a walkie talkie to call us a cab. There were TONS of people waiting at that point. Everyone was anxious and dishing in line to get a taxi. It was a madhouse. Taxis were pulling up and taking people back. I was standing in line. I didn’t feel good at all, bleeding, in pain, and still feeling like I was lightheaded. My husband went to the lady and told her “We need to get her back to the ship NOW, she is hurt and needs help”.
About that time three older ladies came, with Carnival beach towels wrapped around them,and got in front of everyone. When the next cab pulled up, they said they had room for three people. The lady with the walkie talkie came over to us and told us to get in. Of course I could barely walk, so it was taking me awhile to make it there. The three ladies jumped in front of me and into the taxi van. SERIOUSLY??? At that point I was really upset. I started yelling at them that I was hurt, how are they going to not only dish everyone in line, but jump in a cab that was offered to me and that I needed medical attention. Never ONCE did they turn around, acknowledge that I was talking, nor said a word back. But I KNOW they heard me.
People are just plain rude. So the lady said she would make absolutely sure that I got in the next cab. As soon as it pulled up, they put me in it first and told the driver he was to take me (even though another family had called for the taxi for themselves). The family didn’t say a word about it to me, just gave me “looks” for being in “their” taxi.
Traffic was TERRIBLE at this time. The cab driver said that it would be quicker if he took a different way back to the port by crossing over to the French side and going around. I do have to say the area that we passed going back looked a lot nicer than the way we had came getting there. It was smooth sailing all the way into town to drop the other family off and then we were in traffic again at the port.
The bad part is, I asked the driver how much it would cost us to get back to the port. He replied $7 pp. The family that we were in the cab with did not speak English (other than the son riding in the front seat who had to translate everything to the rest of the family). When they got out (a stop before us at the center of town for shopping), they started gathering their money and the cab driver told them “No, it was $154 for the cab ride. YIKES! (There were only eight of them). They didn’t speak up or say one word but were trying to get enough money together to give to the driver. I was in shock that they had to pay that and thought it was crappy that he took advantage of them for not understanding.
We got back to the port finally and it took me awhile to get back on the ship, but I finally made it. WHEW! I’m still trying to heal, but watching the planes come in was definitely the highlight of the day for me. I had waited so long to see them and highly suggest Maho to anyone else that would be interested. Orient, I would probably pass on given the chance to ever go back there again.
Here are some pictures from our visit there: http://kimbakerphotography.smugmug.com/Vacation/4th-day-St-M aarten/13875330_oysuz#1017690191_vKgcw
St. Maarten (Dutch) is rather run-down, September 13, 2010
|sfvoyage saw things this way:|
Pros: Nice view when looking out to the waters
Cons: Town itself is run-down and poor
From the dock, we took a taxi to visit friends who live in the comparatively upscale Dawn Beach area. The house has an expansive and nice view of the mountains, villages and ocean.
Afterwards, we went back to the main town center and walked around for about an hour. St. Maarten is run-down and poor; the French side is supposed to be nicer. There was nothing to do or buy. The tacky tourist shops mainly offer jewelry and alcohol.
Beautiful island but very poor, September 10, 2010
|anniemarco saw things this way:|
Pros: Nice to view with a tour guide so you can see the important things
Cons: A bit hectic when you do a tour and want to do some shopping
We did a tour of the island called "Best of St. Maarten" island tour and beach. Our guide was nicknamed SuperFly and was hilarious. We were laughing the whole way. The streets are sooo narrow that we thought we were going to hit the other cars whenever we would meet them on bridges but he was a fairly good driver.
It was a good way to see the island but we stopped on the French side of the island for lunch but there was not many options for restaurants so our guide recommended one in particular. The food was not that good, we didn't know what we were eating plus it was really expensive. All the prices were in their currency so we didn't know what the US exchange rate was. Cost us over $40 US for food we hardly ate.
We then went to the beach which was beautiful. Once we got back to Philipsburg, we got dropped off near the shopping district to do a bit of shopping for souvenirs. Overall, we had a great day, a bit pricey and hectic but still great.
Great way to see the island and the talented locals - Take an art tour, July 6, 2010
|suz56 saw things this way:|
Pros: Saw the whole island and shopped for art, too
Cons: Marigot is closed on Sundays - Why would a ship dock on Sunday here?
My mom wanted to go on an art tour. I wanted to see the island. We both won!! It turned out to be a rainy day so our other options would probably have been canceled. There were only eight of us from a huge ship. Everyone we talked to that night who had anything beach- or water-related had their tour canceled, from sailing to whale watching.
We went from one area of the island to another visiting artists in their homes and in their galleries. I think we went to five or six places. I ended up buying more than I expected. Lots of beautiful art from ceramic to paintings, from sailboats to Caribbean themes.
The lady that was our tour guide was awesome. We learned more about the culture of the island and the history than we learned on any other tour. And she was entertaining, too.
They stopped the van anytime we wanted to take photos so it really turned out to be the best of both worlds.
Once we returned to the pier, we opted not to go to town. You have to take a water taxi to get there and we preferred to go take a hot tub instead.
This tour made me realize that one of those plastic shipping tubes would have been good to pack in my suitcase along with a large manila envelope with cardboard backing.
Great - if you like to spend all your time in cruiseline-owned stores, June 25, 2010
|shadow45 saw things this way:|
Pros: Lots of stores to shop in
Cons: The over emphasis on commercialism, i.e. stores, stores, stores
We have been to St. Martin/St. Maarten several times. Over the last several years it has become more and more commericalized - less "good deals" in the stores - not much of the "old" St. Martin. Now, the best part of making port in St. Martin is enjoying the ship while everyone else is out fighting the crowds.
Note from editor: St. Martin is the French side of the island. St. Maarten is the Dutch side.