Hi, after 7 western caribbean cruises finally going east. We have a horseback eco tour booked for 2 p.m. island time (1 p.m on ship)on St. Maarten 15 minutes from the ship. We are wondering if we are asking for problems to try to find a beach or some other activity (rent a rhino boat?) for the morning --we get in port at 8 a.m. ship's time--have to be back for horses! How far is it to Orient Beach? Will a cab really come back or be available to get us back to the dock, and our ride to the horses? How much time should we be allowing for transfers? Also want to see Trunk Bay on St. John and don't know how much time to allow for transfers/cabs/ferries and wonder if it is worth it or stay on St. Thomas. Any favorite suggestions? We are active/outdoors people who like the water--two in 40s, a 19 y/o girl and a very small 12 y/o girl (hence the horses). Wondering if we should book a St. John tour that stops at Trunk Bay & Cinammon Bay and let them worry about transportation. How much time should we allow to get back to the ship in time? Laurie
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There is a big beach near the cruise ship pier - Great Bay I think is the name. It is along the main part of the town. Get off the ship and then take the tender at the end of the pier which will drop you off next to the beach. This is quicker than walking to the beach.
If you take the water taxi from the pier to Phillipsburg the whole waterfront is a nice beach. Or if you want you can rent cars at the end of the pier. The whole island is quite small. Orient beach is only a short drive and quite beautiful. It is on the French side so European "dress codes" are in vogue. If you rent a car (you can pre-book on the web if you do a St. Maartin web search) you can even go to Simpson Bay by the airport. It is a small and very nice beach. Also I think (I've never done it) that the cabs are not too expensive and quite reliable to Orient Beach.
Or, as I said, simply go to Phillipsburg and lie on the beach. There is a $1 beer stand at the end of the water taxi pier and nice bar/restaurant overlooking the beach.
They've done a great job making a little boardwalk of sorts along this beach. When I first went there about 15 years ago it was much more "rustic". The last time I was surprised to see the improvements.
St. Maarten has a beautiful beach right near the pier as everyone has said, you can walk to. All the stores for shopping are right there as well, along with resteraunts and bars. Very pretty! In St. Thomas, there are a few beaches, Magen's Bay, Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach all are nice. Can take a cab. We are going to St. Thomas again, and this time we are going to "Coral World" (you can google them and get on their website) which looks really cool and this is right beside Coki beach. I don't know too much about St. John's, although I hear it is lovely as well.
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