I could easily see why friends of ours go to Dutch St. Maarten year after year. The town of Phillipsburg where the ships dock is one of the cleanest, best set up port towns in the Caribbean, and by far the nicest port in terms the amenities that can be enjoyed in just walking distance from the ship docks.
The last time we were here was in Dec of 2008, and on that visit we choose to walk into town, which is really not a bad walk at all. This time we decided to take the water taxi right to the same beach area where we had previously walked. The beach there in town is a scenic beach but really just a swimming beach, no waves for body surfing and no reefs for snorkeling. What the beach does have is a paved â€œboardwalkâ€, lots of umbrellas and chairs for rent and great service from the many bars and cafÃ©â€™s along the â€œboardwalkâ€.
However, before we could sit down and enjoy the beach we had to take care of some shopping. We hadnâ€™t bought enough t-shirts and tropical shirts to fill our cases, so we felt it was our job to try to buy as much as we could during our last stop. In all seriousness, the prices are so good in St. Maarten and the selection so vast, it is hard not to find what your are looking for on the island. The first couple of streets have souvenir t-shirts and beach sarongs, and just a few blocks further into town were shops that had all kinds of clothes and fashions. If you want to shop in the Caribbean St. Maarten is a great place to do it.
After we had our fill of shopping we decided to settle down in two of those lounge chairs with the umbrellas that I mentioned earlier. For $15 we rented the chairs and the umbrellas and got a bucket of beer and a frozen drink. Our ship was the only ship in St. Phillipsburg that day so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves with the other ship passengers and a few guests staying at the few beach front hotels in town. There is another town located at the other end of the Dutch side of the island that has many high rise resorts and is more developed. I believe this is where my friends who visit every year have their time share condo. We got a glimpse of this development as we sailed away at sunset.
After a few dips in the ocean, a walk on the beach and a visit with some of the other ship passengers, we took our return water taxi back to the ship. As we were walking to the ship, my husband jokingly said â€œlast chance for rum!â€, and the next thing I knew we were sitting at the little shack on the pier having a beer and a mango margarita. We had a good time watching all of the fellow passengers and crew return to the ship with their bags of goodies purchased in town. Some had electronics, others had suitcasesâ€¦large and small, others just had shopping bags full of t-shirts and sarongs. After watching the â€œparadeâ€ we boarded this ship and headed out by the pool to listen to the band and enjoy the views of St. Maarten. One of the interesting things we noticed was that another ship was in port at the island but on in another cove over by that highly developed section of the Dutch side of the island. I â€˜ll have to look at a map when we get home, but I was surprised to see a ship over there considering that the port in Phillipsburg had just our ship in port that day, and they just added a new pier in the last two years doubling their capacity.
The sail away was spectacular as the sun was setting at just the right time to light up the buildings and the water.
We forwent dining in the dining room as after so much shopping, sun, heat, and beer we both decided to call it a night early. We ordered from the standard room service menu and watch a movie before going to bed for the night.