Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit
Star Wars movie fans are in for a treat in St. Maarten. Of all the places to find a Star Wars museum with original scripts and relics, you find one in Philipsburg at the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit. Where Nick Maley otherwise known as That Yoda Guy, who was one of the creators of Yoda from Star Wars, has created a sci-fi movie memorabilia museum.
In this museum he showcases relics form 54movies he worked on and others from his colleagues. Memorabilia from films such as Hellraiser, Alien and of course the Star Wars sagas.
The museum also displays head casts of famous actor/actresses and historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln. If you loved blockbuster movies such as Men in Black, The Terminator and more then you will love taking a trip back memory lane at this place.
If you are lucky enough to find Nick and his wife, they will pose for photos and autograph any purchases you make at the gift store.
Sink Your Toes In The Sand
Theres no shortage of excellent beaches on either side of the islandin fact, there are exactly 37 to choose frombut you may have trouble deciding which beaches are best for you.
If you want to stay close to the action, visit Maho Beach and watch planes soar overhead before landing at Princess Juliana International Airport. This experience is one of the best things to do in St. Maartenyoull feel almost close enough to reach out and touch their wings. Your best bet for seeing the planes overhead is in the early afternoon, typically between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Of course, not every beach experience in St. Maarten is an adrenaline rush. Experience a taste of the French Riviera at Grand Case Beach on the French side of the island, which is often recognized as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Claim a chaise and an umbrella and practice the art of doing nothing.
One of the best beaches in St. Maarten is Mullet Bay, a long stretch of white sand and secluded coves. Theres even a golf course nearby if you want to hit the links. Mullet Bay was hit hard by Hurricane Irma in 2017, but with dedicated clean-up efforts, it has returned to postcard-level perfection.
Flavors Food Tours By Flavors Of St Martin
Sometimes an islands culture is best experienced through taste, and if youre a foodie at heart, youll love getting to know St. Maarten and St. Martin by visiting various restaurants and sampling their foods.
Flavors of St. Martin offers 3 types of food tours on the island. The Culinary Road Trip is an exciting 4-hour air-conditioned ride where youll visit four restaurants and specialty shops on both the Dutch and the French side.
The Philipsburg Foodie Walking Tour is a 3-hour walking food tour through the Dutch Capital of St Maarten. Youll discover four local, international, and hidden gems and learn about the capitals history from your tour guide.
The final tour they offer is a private tour, which offer the same experiences as the other tours but much more intimate. This is perfect for special occasions like honeymoons or anniversaries, or if you plan on proposing to your significant other.
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Sint Maarten Best Beaches
Spending the day on the beach is usually high on the to-do list for travelers and there might not be a better island in the Caribbean to do just that. With more than 30 unique beaches to choose from, the island offers no shortage of places to kick back and relax with your toes in the sand and a cold drink in hand.
The most famous of all the beaches on the island is Maho Bay Beach thanks to its proximity to the airport. Wait, what? Thats right, the end of the runway sits along the edge of the water and landing planes swoop down directly overhead. It makes for a cool picture, but for those looking to relax in solitude, this isnt the beach for you.
Instead, try off the beaten path gems like Happy Bay Beach or nearby Friars Bay Beach. Both can be found on the French side of the island and are a little more laid back than some of the islands other beaches.
If youre hanging out for a day or two before or after your cruise leaves, Great Bay Beach is right next to the Philipsburg cruise port and surrounded by hotels, restaurants, nightlife, casinos and more. There are plenty of beachside chair and umbrella rental services for a relaxing day watching the turquoise waters of the bay lap against the sand. If youre looking for more of an adventure, there are kayak, paddleboard and even jet ski rentals available at several locations in Philipsburg.
Old Street in Philipsburg | Photo: Vacation St. Maarten/Facebook
Zipline Through The Rainforest
Eco-tourism in St. Maarten not only gives you a glimpse into the most beautiful tropical paradises on the island, but it also contributes to conservation efforts that protect the local rainforest.
Not only is St. Maartens Loterie Farm a nature preserve home to thousands of local plant species, but it also boasts an exhilarating zipline and adventure course to get your adrenaline pumping. The course is one of the top things to do in St. Maarten for adventure seekers. Pronounced like lottery, youll hit the jackpot here whether you hike the rainforest trails or nap in their cabanitas.
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Carnival On Sint Maarten
There are several major events on the island each year like the annual food and wine festival and the ever popular Heineken Regatta, but the best event of them all is Carnival. At the end of April into early May, the island celebrates life, joy and the West Indies with a party unlike any other. Festivities include parades with colorful costumes, steel drum bands, and as much local food, drink and culture as possible.
Carnival on Sint Maarten is a celebration of heritage for the local residents and the diverse backgrounds from which they come. While there are parties all over the island, the most popular spots are in and around Philipsburg. The festival culminates with the burning of a straw figure known as King MouMou in a celebration of the circle of life. If you like block parties, great music and incredible food, visiting Sint Maarten during Carnival has to be on your bucket list!
A Carnival parade dancer in costume | Photo: Vacation St. Maarten/Facebook
Cruise Ships Calling At St Kitts
Close to 600 cruise ships with around 1,5 million passengers called at Port Zante in St Kitts during the 2018-2019 season.
All major cruise lines visit Saint Kitts’ Port Zante, including mega-ships like RCI-Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas Carnivals’ Sunshine, Fascination, Breeze and Magic and Norwegian’s Epic, Gem, and Dawn.
Cruise Ships Docked in Port Zante
Luxury cruise lines like Crystal, Regent, Silversea, Seadream and Seabourn visit St Kitts regularly as do vessels of upper premium cruise lines such as Cunard, Oceania, Viking, and Azamara. Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity offer cruises visiting Port Zante but usually only in the high season. Major European cruise lines like Marella Cruises, AIDA, P& O, and MSC also visit St Kitts.
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Philipsburg Tours Shore Excursions Hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
Among the best excursion options in St Maarten are:
- Maho Beach is world-famous for its low-altitude aircraft landings as the beach is adjacent to Princess Juliana Airport and directly under airplanes’ flight paths. Maho Beach is served by Bar and Grill.
- Orient Bay beach is one of the largest beaches and offers all standard tourist amenities . It is also ranked one of Caribbean’s best / most popular beaches.
- Grand-Case village features an authentic house architecture, gourmet dining options , nearby beach , market square .
- Phillipsburg City’s main street is lined up with jewelry shops and souvenir stalls. Along the waterfront there is a promenade street lined with restaurants and bars. Duty-free shopping is available at both downtown streets and includes jewelry, brand perfumes and cosmetics, clothing and accessories. Great places to visit are St Maarten Museum and Sint Maarten Museum .
- St Maarten Island Tour allows you to taste all the highlights. Tours are individual or group. Group tours are cheaper but limited as to visited destinations. Private tours are more flexible, but also expensive in comparison. Group tours can be booked via the cruise company or independently. Taxis at the cruise port are readily available.
“4×4 St Maarten and Beach Escape” is an optional Jeep driving tour across the island. The tour is through Grand Case , with stops for scenic overlooks and strolling along the route.
Were Ready To Keep On Cruisin
SWIFT PASSENGER DISTRIBUTION UPON ARRIVAL
Diverse transportation options into Philipsburg or elsewhere from the piers is available upon command. Rapid distribution is of utmost importance to facilitate a positive first impression of St. Maarten. Those wishing to stretch their legs and go on foot need a mere 15 minutes to reach the islands capital city. Cabs, water taxis and tour buses stand ready to whisk the less adventurous or less mobile away.
The Captain Hodge Wharf, Walter Williams Jetty and Bobbys Marina are three convenient water taxi stops on the Philipsburg waterfront and $6 one-day tickets for unlimited rides can be purchased from one of two private companies. Additionally 100 cabs await cruise arrivals at the terminal for fares to Philipsburg or elsewhere. Convenience. Comfort. Minimized congestion. Take a bus. Take a water taxi. Take a cab. Take a walk. Convenience. Comfort. Congestion, so long!
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Caribbean Uncovered: St Maarten Welcomes Visitors
Update: Our guests safety is what matters most, which is why weve chosen to pause all of our cruises. We know everyone is focused on their health and loved ones but also dreaming of their next vacation. Thats why were still thinking of ways for you to escape the everyday, and when the time is right, we look forward to welcoming you back on board. Until then, well be here with inspiration in all forms whenever you need it.
Experience Dutch and French culture and enjoy gorgeous coastline, lush tropical landscapes, a great selection of restaurants and plenty of shopping.
South African crew member Sheldon Sunkel sails the globe on board Radiance of the Seas, where he works at the collection of upscale shops. Sharing his adventures on Instagram at , Sheldon has traveled to St. Maarten on different ships since 2004, and knows this quaint yet vibrant island well.
Heres his take on St. Maartens island charm, why you should travel to this Caribbean beauty, and what to do once youre there:
Two Islands In One
Beaches And Beyond
An Animal Lovers Dream
Theres flora and fauna to see all across the island, so if you prefer to stumble upon the locals, Sheldon recommends simply walking aroundwith a good camerato see other wildlife, like iguanas soaking up the island sun.
A Milestone For St Maarten
One single pier accommodating 4 ships simultaneously was one pier too few. Opened in 2009, the Harbour Group of Companies upgraded the port by building a second pier. St. Maarten is now one of the few ports able to accommodate the worlds largest cruise ships the Genesis-class vessels.
Weighing over 220,000 gross tons each, and having a capacity of more than 6,000 passengers and crew, two such vessels can be accommodated on Pier 2 . Additionally, Pier 2 has two booths for passenger screening which expedites disembarkation. Tons of experience. Tons of efficiency. Tons of opportunity.
Immediately upon coming ashore, passengers are welcomed to the Harbour Point Village to the sound of steel pans. That tropical feeling on the Friendly Island begins! Built in Philipsburgs charming old architectural style, the Village contains duty-free outlets, souvenir shops and market stalls as well as bars and a restaurant.
Here most of the tour and excursion pick up and drop off points are found as well as bus tour stands and the cab stand. Friendly harbour staff are on hand to assist visitors and an information center is located in the main building. We are known, after all, as the Friendly Island. First impressions last.
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Where Do Cruise Ships Dock At St Martin
St. Martin is packed with beaches.
St. Martin/St. Maarten is the smallest island to ever have been split between two countries. Divided in 1648, French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten coexist peacefully with no border crossing or customs procedures. Mass market cruise lines dock at the A.C. Wathey Pier & Port Facility outside Philipsburg on the Dutch side, while some smaller ships dock at Marigot on the French side. The islands small size and lack of border controls make it easy for visitors to see both sides, regardless of where the ship is docked.
What Can I Do In Four Hours Or Less
Hang out in Philipsburg. Everything you might want for a relaxing time ashore is here. There’s a long beach Great Bay Beach with soft sand, loungers to rent, calm waters that are ideal for swimming, and a wide walkway behind the beach lined with inviting bars and restaurants. The main street, one block back, is wall-to-wall duty-free shops jewellers, designer boutiques, sunglasses and watch emporiums. For a dose of culture, take in the handsome old courthouse, have a browse in That Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit, a treasure trove of memorabilia from Star Wars and other films, and visit the small but engaging St Maarten Museum to learn about the island’s history of salt panning, slavery, shipwrecks and hurricanes.
Alternatively, head out of Philipsburg for a few hours. Many cruise passengers get no further than Maho Beach, right under the end of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport, to see or experience large jets coming in to land just overhead: landing times are posted on a surfboard at the adjacent Sunset Bar & Grill. Far more conventionally appealing is Orient Beach, in the north east on the French side, a long tranche of soft sand with watersports galore, chic beach bars, and a nudist area.
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St Maarten Island Sightseeing
The island is absolutely incredible and both Dutch and French sides are charming and offer various sights and activities! If you want to take a glimpse of both the Dutch and French sides of the island, you should definitely join a sightseeing tour that covers all the main St Maarten/Sint Martin highlights.
Upon booking a tour, make sure its organized in small groups, cruise ship friendly, and guarantees your return to the ship! Some tours include beach time, so make sure you bring proper clothing.
Sightseeing trips normally include stops at the islands most famous places:
These tours will take you through the rugged terrain of the island and stop at the islands main landmarks, such as:
- Philipsburg and Great Bay Beach
- Maho Beach
- Rotary Lookout Point A beautiful viewpoint is part of the French Nature Reserve offering scenic views of the east coast of Saint Martin and Lucas Bay.
- Oyster Pond A community located in the eastern part of the island, overlooking Lucas Bay. The most popular resorts in this area are Coralita Beach, Oyster Bay, Dawn Beach.
Note: Make sure you have a valid drivers license that complies with the tour operators policies.
Besides these 3 best experiences you can get in St Maarten, you can also check out the ones below! They have great reviews and include some extra stops that you might like:
To Wrap Up
St Martin And St Maarten Beaches
St Maarten has no shortage of beachesincluding those who only like wearing their birthday suits. Yup, the island is home to a nudist beach on the French side, called Orient Beach. A large reef runs along the coast and clothing is optional on the southern end, making it a popular spot for nudists and lookie-loos.
If exposure isnt your thing, you may want to stick to something more PG like Simpson Bay, which is considered one of the longest and nicest on the island. A number of cute little boats dot the turquoise water, and the beach is framed by green hills. This is the best spot to see neighbouring Caribbean islands, provided its a clear day.
The islands most popular stretch of sand would have to be Great Bay, which is the beach that anyone arriving by boat first sees as they approach St. Maarten. The beach itself is huge, meaning you wont be sharing a beach towel with strangers, and the area is lined by a massive boardwalk that leads into Philipsburgs hotels, restaurants and shops.
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Indulgence By The Sea Spa
If your idea of a vacation includes massages, pedicures, and facials, be sure to reserve yourself a spot at Indulgence by the Sea Spa, found at the Divi Little Bay Beach resort.
This spa provides a variety of treatments including facials, manicures, pedicures, and massages. All treatments use hand-elected, organic products and oils personally tested by the owner. Stop by for some relaxation after a long day of island excursions.
Duty Free Shopping In St Maarten
Its safe to say that the most popular pastime for tourists in St. Maarten is shopping. Sure the beaches are great and the views spectacular, but who can say no to 40 per cent off? Philipsburg has dozens of duty-free shops where you can pick up clothes, cigars, jewellery and liquor at steep discounts. For example, a 750 ml bottle of coconut rum costs about $30+ in North America, but you can pick one up in St. Maarten for $11. Yup, $11. Keep in mind that most countries have a limit to how much liquor and tobacco you can bring home before paying dutyalthough even if you pay taxes on top of the island prices it will likely still be cheaper than anything you can get at home.
One thing to remember if youre travelling on a cruise shipis that youre usually not allowed to bring any liquor into your room after you board. However, the ship will hold it for you until the night before you leave, so youll get to bring it back with you.
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