St. Maarten, NA

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Explore St. Maarten, NA

Explore two colorful nations on one exotic island on your Carnival® cruise to St. Maarten. Split down the middle centuries ago by two European powers, this 37-mile isle offers cosmopolitan culture, international shopping, and world-class cuisine with a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. Cruise to St. Maarten and you’ll find the island’s natural attributes are equally fine: the rugged coastline shelters silky crescents of sand framed by green undulating hills.

  • Swim or snorkel the warm, clear seas along a white-sand beach.
  • Dine on fine international cuisine or in funky outdoor barbecue joints.
  • Shop the duty-free stores along the Philipsburg waterfront.
  • Swing to calypso sounds at a barefoot beach bar.
  • Hike through the ruins of French and Dutch forts overlooking the sparkling Caribbean Sea.

Things To Do

Local Attractions

It’s a two-for-one bargain in paradise when you board a cruise to St. Maarten. On Dutch St. Maarten, development is on the march, and the simmering scene ranges from bustling marinas to funky beach bars. Designer fashions and French wines fill the shops on quieter and quainter French St. Martin. Both sides offer splendid beaches, cosmopolitan dining, and fantastic shopping.

  • Dine in one of the charming seaside bistros in little Grand-Case.
  • Settle in on a powdery beach lapped by sapphire seas on Pinel Island.
  • Shop till you drop in duty-free style in Philipsburg and Marigot.
  • Crew on an America’s Cup yacht for the day from the Dutch side.
  • Sail on a rainforest zipline above Loterie Farm.

Fun Facts

  • Jets landing at Princess Juliana International Airport touchdown just inland from Maho Beach. On final approach, the planes fly so low that you could practically reach up and touch them.
  • Christopher Columbus sailed past this tiny Caribbean Island on a second trip to the New World in 1493.
  • St. Maarten has been two nations on one island since 1648, when it was split in two by the Netherlands and France.

Within Walking Distance

The handsome boardwalk that stretches along the Philipsburg waterfront from your St. Maarten cruise has superb views of Great Bay harbor. On Wathey Square, the Courthouse combines northern European sobriety with Caribbean brightness. East of the Courthouse, down a little shopping alley, the tiny St. Maarten Heritage Museum has an impressive collection of Arawak tools, shipwreck salvage, and slave beads.

Around the Port Area

Fort Amsterdam has looked out over the blue waters of Great Bay since 1631. Ruins and a couple of rusty cannons are all that remain of the original fort, but the site affords grand bay views. On the other side of the bay is Bobby’s Marina, which offers a variety of adventures. Whether you’re a beginner or expert boatmen, you can experience the thrill of racing with America’s Cup Regatta excursion. If you’d rather be under the water than on top, Sea Trek is a must excursion.

Beyond The Port Area

Beyond the Port

With Carnival cruises to St. Maarten, you can explore Marigot, the charming portside capital of French St. Martin. With traditional Creole gingerbread-trim houses ringing the harbor, Marigot has real French flair. Explore the French and Dutch sides of St. Maarten with Butterfly Farm & Marigot excursion. For the more adventurous sightseer try Power Rafting Adventure – Snorkel, Shop & Beach. With crumbling walls and a French flag flapping in the breeze, Fort St. Louis was built in 1767 to protect the waterfront warehouses. Duck into the Museum of Saint Martin to see the first-rate collection of Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib artifacts excavated from the island.

Beaches In St. Maarten

Some 39 beautiful white-sand beaches—some bustling, some serene—are right outside your Carnival cruise to St. Maarten. On the Dutch side, mile-long Great Bay Beach right off the boardwalk in Philipsburg has calm seas and great views and you can see it all with Scenic Coastal Hike. If its thrills you’re after, the Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail & Snorkel, or Rhino Rider & Snorkel Adventure offers the ultimate water experiences. Farther west, Mullet Beach has a gentle bay for swimming and snorkeling.

Caribbean Beaches

On the French side’s northeast coast is Orient Beach, offering food, drink, watersports, music, and both topless and nudist beaches. South of Orient Beach, the calm, shallow waters of Coconut Grove and Galion Beach are a popular spot with kids and windsurfers. Many people take the 10-minute boat trip to Pinel, an idyllic little islet framed by jade peaks for a perfect beach day, complete with a crystalline lagoon.

Shopping in St. Maarten

Caribbean Shopping

St. Maarten is a true free port—no duties are paid on any item coming in or going out—and neither side of the island has a sales tax. Shops in vintage storefronts can be found on the busier Dutch side and are concentrated in Philipsburg, along narrow Front Street and its warren of alleyways. In French Marigot, shops sell European brands and fine French wines and cheeses. Many stores here close for a 2-hour lunch break around noon.

Travel Tips


  • Most people speak English, although French is commonly heard on French St. Martin and Dutch is the official language on Dutch St. Maarten.
  • U.S. dollars are widely accepted on both sides of the island, although the euro is the official currency on French St. Martin.