With a little shopping and a chill-out day at the beach, what could be better than Sint Maarten. I use the Dutch spelling because we have never ventured further than the port town of Phillipsburg when enjoying this quaint island. While there are plenty of snorkeling, sailing, sand and surf activities available for cruisers to enjoy, we like the simplicity of taking the water taxi into town and having a day of fun in the quaint town. Other beaches are more famous for either their airplanes landing or nudists, but very little beats the sheer relaxation of sitting on the little beach in Phillipsburg with a bucket of beer and an occasional swim to cool off.
The water taxi is $6 per person for a round trip armband ticket. Passengers can disembark at either the East end of town or at the center pier. Return pick up is available at either location. We have walked into town before and while it is probably a little over a 1/2 mile, but the water taxis is definitely a cooler experience, in both meanings of the word. Once in town, we weree approached by the umbrella rental vendors as we made our way along the paved “boardwalk.” We spent $50 on two umbrellas, with 4 chairs and bucket of beer and soft drinks. I think you can negotiate a better deal than this, but I was too tired to bargain.
Once we settled in on the beach, my daughter and I wanted to do some beach cover-up shopping in town before we got to salty and sandy from the ocean. I got a sheer brightly covered tunic style cover up and my daughter got a floral print wrap and halter. Many of the shops near the Boardwalk and Front Street carry these types of items. As visitors make their way towards Back Street, the shops tend to carry imported linens and other goods from around the world for every day use rather than the beach wear focus of some of the shops closer to the water. We had cash for most things, but we also were able to use our credit cards with a $20 minimum purchase at the boardwalk front pubs and restaurants. We bought a lunch and some additional beverages with our credit card at one of the water front restaurants.
After lunch, we set out on a quest for XXXL t-shirts. There is one fantastic shop, towards the east end of town, and I can’t remember if it is on Front or Back Street. They carry very very nice XXXL t-shirts. We looked for XXXL’s in other ports and could only find kind of ugly white shirts, but this shop in Phillipsburg carries many very nice, super soft, colored t-shirts with cool imprints on them . I picked out 3 of the XXXL shirts for my husband and 3 Larges for my son. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to call my credit card company and tell them I would be out of the country and my itinerary, so my previous transactions buying lunch and beer, had triggered a fraud alert on my card. When my card was declined, I had two very kind actions by strangers that helped me out. The couple behind me in line were on the Silhouette, so they offered to pick up my transaction and let me pay them back, before I could say “oh, no that is too kind”, the shop owner had already put my purchase on their transaction. Then the shop owner was kind enough to let me use his internet phone to call the company and get the fraud alert removed. That night, I got cash from the ship’s ATM and delivered it to the state room of the couples who had picked up my sale.
After, our second shopping spree, we headed back to our beach umbrellas where we chatted with other families on the beach and enjoyed a cool swim in the water. As time moved on to about 3:00 we decided to head back to the ship. We caught the center of town water taxi and headed to the ship. My daughter and I took a quick dip in the hot-tub and then headed back to the room to shower and get ready for dinner. What a fabulous, relaxing day. I didn’t take many pictures because we have been here so many times before. I know we’ll enjoy a return day to Sint Maarten during our next Caribbean cruise. Who knows maybe one day I’ll venture further than Phillipsburg, but most of the time the relaxed day suited me just right.
For more pictures of Sint Maarten, visit our Sint Maarten Silhouette Gallery