At one point in time we had a time share in Saint Maarten (I know, I know) and have been there a few times. While we were there, we always had to spend some time in Philipsburg. Before heading there the first time we knew that Saint Maarten was a Caribbean island divided into two parts, the Dutch and French (Saint Martin) sides. However, the first time we visited, we did not know that Philipsburg is actually the capital of the Dutch Saint Martin side. We also quickly learned that bargain seekers flock to the duty-free and sales-tax-free stores of Philipsburg’s mile-long commercial district. This can be viewed as either good news (more shopping choices, better deals and more beach activities) or bad news (more people) for this busy port of call. I am not a big crowd person, so we spent a lot of time in the water and near the beaches. Here are some of our favorites:
After St Martin dredged the harbor for the new cruise ship pier and terminal, much of the sand was used to replenish the beach. Thus, it is one of the longest and widest beaches on the island. The beach is great for swimming with gentle sloping sand entries. There are chairs and umbrellas for rent and most of the restaurants near Front street offer deals with a meal and drinks for the beach seating. The only problem with this beach was that it could be crowded when there are a lot of ships in the port.
Little Bay Beach
This beach lies around the bend of Great Bay, to the south and is a picture perfect beach with fine, white, powdery sand. The only problem with this beach would be that this stretch of sand can become narrow depending on the tide. While this little beach has the advantage of its close proximity to the capital of Philipsburg, it is also far enough away from the day trippers of Philipsburg and the cruise ship shoppers that arrive in Great Bay. The waters at Little Bay are calm and make for high underwater visibility. They bay is a great spot for snorkeling and has some water sports facilities with such things as jet-skiing, paddle boats and para-sailing. There are a few restaurants and bars available on the beach as well.
Simpson Bay Beach
Looking for a quieter beach away from busy mains street of Simpson Bay? Well this might just be the beach for you. I loved it. The beach is over a mile long and rather wide, and the waters of the Caribbean are quiet and calm most time of the year. We didn’t think about it, but the he bay is facing South, thus it is more protected from the sometimes strong Northeastern winds. We did notice that the view of the island of Saba, which looks like a big mountain peaking out of the sea, is just spectacular. We were there one night at sunset and it was a very romantic atmosphere. It was perfect night to take a nice little walk on the beach. Wonderful Memories.
One time while spending the day in Philipsburg, we actually saw the Queen Mary II in port! It was so cool to see it and see how HUGE it was. I never would have guessed how massive it was if I haven’t seen it myself. It was definitely a highlight to our visit that trip. If you have been to any of these beaches, please let us know what you thought. Happy travels!