BEST WAY TO SPEND 8 HOURS ON ST. MARTIN?

Old Aug 13th, 2012, 06:49 PM
  #1  
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BEST WAY TO SPEND 8 HOURS ON ST. MARTIN?

Would like to see and do as much as possible while docked for 8 hours on St. Martin. My husband and I are 50ish, in fairly good shape and would like to avoid the tourists traps if possible. There are so many excursions offered that my head is spinning. Any suggestions? We would like to spend some time on a beautiful beach and experience the great things the island has to offer!
kwick58 is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2012, 03:29 AM
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With only 8 hours on the island, and if you want to see as much as possible, I would suggest that you take a taxi for the day, and explain to the driver what you would like to do.

All the drivers of licenced taxis are pretty knowledgeable, and will be happy to take you to the most suitable places for you to visit.

The charge isn't enormous (and you won't be paying the cruise line profit if you don't book an island tour through the office on the ship), but do be sure to take a proper taxi - the licenced drivers all wear orange shirts, so it's easy to spot them

The island is only 37 square miles in all, so in a day you can actually see quite a bit of it.

Explain to the driver first what you are interested, or not interested, in doing, and he (or occasionally she !) will take you to the places which will best fit your requirements. Get him / her to suggest an itinery before you take off.

I don't know what the current rates are, as I have been 'off island' for nearly 3 months - back to 'paradise' next week - but it might be possible to negotiate a bit as it is 'low season' right now.

It is best that you take a taxi for only yourselves - or perhaps share with another like minded couple - as you will have far more flexibility than if you are herded on a tour bus with about 40 others, and what you will see is what YOU want to see.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 05:06 AM
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When we have been on cruises that dock in St. Martin we just get a taxi and go over to the beach on the French side. Orient Beach is gorgeous. You can have the taxi driver show you some sights along the way. It is no problem getting a taxi back to the ship.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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I'd also just go to Orient Beach and perhaps do a bit of strolling and shopping in Phillipsburg before or after. There are a lot of sights on the island, but unless you want to go to Loterie Farm, which is one of the best sights on the island, this will give you the two things St. Maarten has to offer: Beautiful beaches and loads of stores.

Plant yourself at one of the beach clubs and buy some food.

Alternatively, you could go to the much smaller Friar's Bay beach, which has two great beach clubs where you can get food and rent chairs and umbrellas for the day. It's not nearly as crowded as Orient Bay, but it's not as strikingly beautiful either.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 11:45 AM
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Unless you are crazy about watching airplanes landing close up, I suggest that you tell your driver to give the Maho area a miss.

Orient Beach is obviously a 'must' as all the taxi drivers know. Do visit my 'local pub', Bikini Beach - if it is open at the time of year when you are on the island - the bartenders make an excellent drink, and Corinna and Laura are a pretty good looking pair !

Also, make sure that, on your way there, the taxi stops at the lookout at La Coralita, and catch up with 'Calvin the Sea Urchin' who will show you some nice sea creatures / shells etc. which he finds in the shallow water there - but please don't be mean about giving the guy a tip, many tourists don't, and that is how he scratches a living.

Lunch in one of the restaurants surrounding pretty Marina Royale in Marigot is a very pleasant experience, and is far more restful than the beach bar scene. My personal favorite there is La Tropicana, but depending WHEN you will be on the island, quite a few of the restaurants, bars and shops may well be closed - particularly in the month of September.

The duty free shopping on Front Street in Philipsburg is also well worth a look - particularly for watches and jewellery, and be prepared to bargain hard. Don't buy a camera there, as all you will save is your State sales tax at home, and you can actually usually order the same item by e-mail from the web, delivered to your door in the US, for less money if you shop around.

Booze is cheap, but they will hold it for you when you board the ship until you reach your final destination.They want you to use the bars on board at 'ship's prices' which, as you may know, are not usually cheap !

Have fun anyway.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 12:14 PM
  #6  
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Such great ideas! Thanks of much! As always, Fodors Foums and you guys of course..ROCK!
kwick58 is offline  
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