We (me, hubby, 7 yr old twin girls) are sailing on the Carnival Glory in 10 days (woohoo!), and I'm still not sure what to do in St. Marten. I am thinking about maybe renting a car/jeep so that we can cruise around and do whatever (shopping, beaching, etc.). Is it easy to get around the island? Is it possible to park at popular places (shopping areas, Maho beach)?
I have also thought about the water taxi. Can someone tell me where it goes to and from? Is there still an "all day pass" so that we can get on and off whenever we choose?
We are not drinkers, so bars don't matter to us. We will want to do some beach time, but not all day. And I definitely want to do some shopping . The America's cup excursion doesn't sound like our thing either. Any other suggestions are welcome.
The water taxi is just outside the gated pier area where the ship berths. You get a wrist band good all day, it was $4 pp. It ran frequently enough we went back to the ship for lunch and ice cream and went back later. it was clean and not over crowded. The beach didn't have much surf, had a bit of beach combing that day for the kids, fairly shallow and sandy by the shore. Across the street is the shopping district, a couple short blocks there is a "native" outdoor tourist market. It was a good deal and our kids (21, 20, and 15) loved it more than the expensive excursions.
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MaureenNC - St. Maarten/St. Martin is a very interesting island since it offers two distinct cultures/areas to see and enjoy. However, be aware that there can be and there are frequent traffic jams on the narrow roads between the Dutch and French sides! Especially in the afternoons - not good if you are trying to get back to the ship in the afternoon after 315 PM!
Traveling on your own can be a nightmare and a disaster if you don't know the island!! If you have been there before then kindly ignore my advise but if this is a first-stick with a ship tour and relax - there are some really good ones and .....they'll hold the ship!!
The water taxi is good to come and go from the beach/shopping area. I don't remember if it goes to other areas on the island and don't want to confuse you with misinformation. The cabs are plentiful. There have been a few members on the board that have rented jeeps, but like Billybuzzy states, be sure to allow PLENTY of time to get back to the ship. Traffic jams come from lots of things there, goats, sheep, roosters, and chickens included. Oh yes, and the occasional cow. So, it's not only the number of vehicles. There are few roads, and they're all 2 lanes (well almost 2 lanes). Just remember, Orient Beach has a clothing optional area. And, they don't always stay in their area. Most of the ones that opt to go without attire should be hidden by full length robes, but for some reason think they're beautiful Maho beach is where the jets practically land on top of you, not a whole lot of ammenities there, though. The America's Racing Cup excursion is a hoot! Don't waste your money on a snorkeling excursion, the water's clear, but not much to see. Marigot is good for shopping, but there's a nice shopping area right near the beach with comparable pricing. Best wishes!
Thank you for your responses... BillyBuzzy, I think we will follow your advice- I have been to St. Marten before (twice actually), but it was a LONG time ago (1976 and 1987!) so I definitely am not familiar with the roads.
We might opt for a snorkel/boat tour instead. I read about Captain Alan's 3 island tour- anyone ever heard of this? Sounds like a nice outing, and we would still have time for some shopping. Or maybe we will just take the water taxi to the beach... we'll see! I did read somewhere that there has been a sewage/smell issue at Great Bay beach lately- anyone else hear about this?
Penny- I was at Orient Beach on my last trip, and I agree with you completely about the need for long robes! I was there with my mother, 2 aunts, a cousin and a friend my age- it was hysterical to hear my VERY conservative mother and aunts discussing the scenery!! It definitely helped to close the generation gap on our trip!
It seems they're never finished with the road construction in St Martin. I've see the same areas being worked on for the past 20 years. The trip from Maho bat back to Phillppeburg is always jammed with traffic at 3 PM. http://inlinethumb01.webshots....43266S600x600Q85.jpg
The first time we went to Maho Beach I had an older Canon camera which had terrible lag before actually shooting & could never catch the planes at the right time. I moved up to a Sony which is much better & had an automatic feature that just keeps shooting when you keep the shutter held down. The camera's are changing so fast these days it's hard to kepp up with the newer features.