St. Maarten has constructed a wonderful new cruise terminal. It is able to dock seven cruise ships at one time. A water taxi, $4 one way, continually runs from the cruise terminal to different spots at the beach promenade or you can walk ( 10 min.) or take a land taxi into town. There are a few shops in the new cruise terminal.
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When the Spanish closed their colonial fort on St. Maarten in 1648, a few Dutch and French soldiers hid on the island and decided to share it. Soon after, the Netherlands and France signed a formal agreement to split St. Maarten in half, as it is today. Philipsburg displays its Dutch heritage in its architecture and landscaping. The island offers endless stretches of beach, beautiful landscapes and great shopping.
Taxi prices are readily available at the tourist booth at the Cyrus Wathey Square and from the government taxi dispatchers. Taxi rides into town are $3 one way. Water taxis are also available from the cruise ship pier into town for $5 one way or $7 round trip for the day; kids 12 and under are free. Bracelets will be given with purchase.
Minibuses are a good way to get around if you want to go to Marigot on the French side or to Maho Bay. For a few$ they are a good deal.
Rental cars are relatively cheap on the island.
It pays to compare your cruise line tours here.
Great Bay Beach is conveniently located along the waterfront in Philipsburg.
Parotte Ville is St Maarten’s Birdpark and a hidden gem close to the border of St Maarten/ St Martin. This bird paradise is full of beauty, wonder and history that the entire family is sure to enjoy.
There is also a new zipline in Phillipsburg called Rainforest Adventure.
Plane Spotting: As planes approach the Princess Julianna airport, they come in very low over the Maho beach – the airstrip is just on the other side of the beach. Taxi to Maho Beach is $20 one way.
Walking around, shopping, eating and people watching is very easy in Phllipsburg. There are about 3 long main streets downtown with everything you would want to see or do.
Philipsburg and Marigot, the capitals of the Dutch and French sides, are the hotbeds of duty-free shopping. However, as the entire island is duty-free, anyplace is duty-free and no paperwork is required anywhere. There are great bargains on handbags, men's shoes, alcohol, cosmetics, jewelry, electronics, and cigars.
Currency in St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles florin (the guilder) and it is the Euro in St. Martin, but the US dollar is accepted on both sides. No need to change your dollars.
As this is an island of 2 different countries, French is the official language of St. Martin and Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten, but the main language used on both sides of the island is English.
Most stores are open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Most shops are open whenever there's a cruise ship in port. On a Sunday the French side is completely closed, on the Dutch side the stores open at noon.
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