Cruise ships dock close to the center of town. Its pier can only accommodate one medium-sized cruise ship at a time. Some ships use tenders.
Printable map to take along.
For Dutch St Maartenclick here.
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French at heart, but cosmopolitan Caribbean in style, St Martin's capital city of Marigot is cluttered with traffic, shops and people in a small area that is only four streets wide. The town stretches along Marigot Bay, its main focus the harbor at the bottom of Rue de la Republique from where ferries depart to surrounding islands and fishing boats come and go. Marigot's buildings are largely colonial, sprinkled with several smart cafes, bistros, pastry shops and luxury boutiques reminiscent of real French market towns.
Next to the Marina Port la Royale on the southern end of Marigot is a worthwhile museum, dedicated to preserving St Martin's history and culture. It houses numerous exhibits, including a variety of pre-Colombian treasures excavated by the Hope Estate Archaeological Society. There is also a reproduction of a 1,500-year-old burial mound and ceramics dating from 550 BC. The island's more recent history, before tourism took hold, is encapsulated in some evocative black and white photographs of quiet streets populated with a handful of children and donkeys, and of laborers toiling in the salt industry.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
The largest and most popular beach on the island of St Martin, Orient Beach, is bursting with facilities for water sports, shops, restaurants and beach bars. The southern end of the beach has been reserved as a nudist resort. Prune Beach (or Plum Bay) is frequented by surfers while Rouge Beach offers great snorkeling and is regarded as the island's most beautiful. Long Beach is on the border with Dutch St Maarten and has little shade and generally no breeze, so it is known as a hot spot.
Le Galion Beach is the island's best windsurfing beach and has shallow, calm waters. Anse Marcel in the north is usually quiet and favored by French tourists. Friars Bay just north of Marigot is backed by a lagoon containing various waterfowl, and just north of Friars is Happy Bay, beautiful and peaceful because of its inaccessibility. Reaching Happy Bay requires a 10-minute uphill walk from Friars.
The main shopping center at the southern end of the town is near the harbor and is a paradise for shopaholics, with elegant stores carrying the latest designer fashions and jewelry, all tax-free.
Marigot's open-air public market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday at the base of Fort St Louis along the wharves, and provides a colorful spectacle for visitors, though bargains are few. Wares include home-grown produce, tropical fruits and spices, fresh fish, souvenirs, wood carvings and a host of other goods. The pace is lively and the food well worth sampling. Opening time: Wednesday and Saturday 6am to 1pm
On the Dutch side the currency is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder or Florin (ANG), where one guilder is divided into 100 cents, but US Dollars are also widely accepted and prices are usually quoted in Dollars as well as Guilders. On the French side of the island the Euro (EUR) is the local currency, although establishments will also accept US Dollars. There are numerous bureaux de change and banks throughout the island and ATMs in the main towns in both national sectors; travelers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Dutch and French are the official languages, but English is widely spoken. Locals commonly use a language known as Papiamento, a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English.
On a Sunday the French side is completely closed, on the Dutch side the stores open at noon.
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