St. Maarten/St. Martin


St. Maarten is rapidly becoming the Eastern Caribbean’s next St. Thomas.  Its duty-free shopping rivals, if not exceeds that of that U.S. Virgin Island.  This is the world’s smallest island inhabited by two countries.  St. Maarten is of course, governed by the Netherlands Antilles while St. Martin is part French West Indies.  What’s particularly fun is that barring traffic jams, you can easily swing back and forth from the Dutch to the French sides and enjoy the best of both.  On either side of the mountainous island, there are lovely-rivaling the best in the Caribbean beaches, and duty-free shopping including deals on electronics and liquor (these shops are primarily found in St. Maarten’s Philipsburg) may well be the best in the Caribbean.  And the restaurant, cafes and designer boutiques of St. Martin’s Marigot definitely posses a very French flavor. 


The main on-foot attraction at the base of the new pier is a set of duty-free shops.  Though you can hike the 20-minute route into downtown Philipsburg, the streets are narrow and there are no sidewalks, take the Water Taxi instead.  The Water Taxi operate between the cruise pier and downtown Philipsburg; cost is $3 each way or a roundtrip discount for $5.  Renting a car on this island can be a benefit, especially if you want to see both sides of the island.  There are a handful of agencies at the cruise pier.