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Philipsburg ST Maarten Cruise Port: Things to do when getting off the cruise

By Joel Hernández |

Visit the dreamlike island of St. Maarten, sunbathe in the beach, walk cobbled colonial streets and follow the lead of a Jedi master’s wisdom.

Without doubt, the Caribbean is a very interesting tourist destination for travelers who love the beach, warm weather and to be in harmony with nature. It’s a true Paradise on Earth. In previous articles we’ve talked about marvelous Caribbean destinations such as Cartagena, Cuba and its vineyards. We’ve also invited you to go swimming with whale sharks in Holbox or practice ecotourism in the Dominican Republic. Today, DINKtravelers, you world travel guide, invites you to travel to the Dutch and French island of St. Maarten, where apart from sun, sea and sand, you’ll get to walk cobbled colonial streets, gamble at casinos, practice ecotourism and even meet a Jedi master who created an awesome Star Wars character.

Origins of St. Maarten

On November 11th 1493, Christopher Columbus discover a Caribbean island that he named Saint Martin, given that it was on that day when they held festivities in honor of Saint Martin of Tours. In the beginning, the island was colonized by the Spanish conquerors; nevertheless, they abandoned the territory in 1648. Then it was occupied by the French, who established in the north, and by the Dutch, who settled in the south, the part that is now known as St. Maarten. The island is located in the Caribbean Sea, 240 kilometers east of Puerto Rico. It has an extension of 95.8km2.

The Beaches of St. Maarten

If you want to enjoy your visit to St. Maartin relax at the beach with its turquoise water, white sand and tropical landscapes, and watch the sunset while you quench your thirst with a refreshing cocktail. These are our favorite beaches:

  • Maho Beach: It’s considered the most spectacular beach in the world because it adds to the landscape a touch of adrenaline. You’ll be impressed by airplanes preparing for landing at Princess Juliana International Airport. They’ll fly over you, only a few feet above the ground,. You’ll even get to feel the grand power of their turbines! Enjoy this singular event at the beach or sitting at one of the nearby bars. There you’ll also get the chance to find the flight schedules.
  • Dawn Beach: It’s located in the east coast, close to the French part of the island. It was named like that in recognition of its amazing sunrises and crystal clear waters, which are perfect to practice snorkeling or surfing.
  • Divi Little Bay Beach Resort: This complex is located on a private peninsula, between Little Bay and Great Bay. It’s the best place to relax and chill out.
Maho Beach

Philipsburg, shopping district

Amidst the beach landscape of St. Maarten you’ll find Philipsburg, a commercial district with colonial buildings that also happens to be St. Maarten’s capital. There you will find stores that sell duty free products. If you wish to go shopping, head to Front Street, Philipsburg’s main street. It has an extension of over 1.5 km and it’s full of boutiques and top brands shops. Meanwhile, Old Street, which is another street parallel to Front Street, houses many stores that specialize in Chinese and Indian products.

Philipsburg, shopping district

What else can I find in Philipsburg?

This district ends at the seaport so it’s the right place to see the arrival of cruise ships full of tourists or even travel to St. Maarten aboard one of them. We recommend going to Fort Amsterdam, a historic site that was also the first Dutch military emplacement in the Caribbean. It reminds us of the strategic importance of the island because it offers a panoramic view of the city and nearby islands. Don’t forget to take your camera to capture the view.

Fort Amsterdam

Philipsburg also houses several art galleries, casinos, restaurants, bars and museums, such as the Museum of St. Maarten in Front Street, dedicated to the history of the island’s native population, colonial past and natural wealth.

Philipsburg Zoo

If you want to discover some of the local fauna, don’t hesitate to go to the Zoo in St. Maarten. It’s located north of Great Salt Pond, in Philipsburg. It’s the biggest zoo in the Caribbean region. There, you’ll also find several animal species from Central and South America. The herpetarium is home to cool snake species including the Burmese python and the rainbow boa. It also has a cave that’s full of bats!

Philipsburg Zoo

Yoda lives in the Caribbean

If you think that a beach where airplanes practically land on top of your head is the coolest thing ever, you’ll be surprised to learn that Philipsburg also houses the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit. It’s an interactive museum where Yoda, the Jedi master, lives together with other characters from the Star Wars saga. If you’re wondering how he got there, the answer is: Nick Maley, special effects designer and one of the creators of Yoda moved to St. Maarten several years ago. At the museum you’ll find a robotic puppet of Yoda, costumes and props from Star Wars, videos and actors photographs as well as a gift shop. Best of all, you’ll get the chance to talk to Nick, who will tell you all about his filmmaking anecdotes.

Yoda Guy

Rum in St. Maartin

Add one more stop to your visit by taking the perfect tour. It will also offer you the chance to find great souvenirs. Go to one of the rum distilleries in the island where they’ll teach you everything behind the production of this beverage that is the star ingredient of countless cocktails. After learning about the process and participating in rum tasting, you can take home bottles of mango, lime, passion fruit and orange rum!  

rum distilleries

“A Jedi master should do better things that fight! Seeking wisdom. Finding balance…” These wise words from Yoda remind us that you, like him, can find balance and wisdom in St. Maarten, a tropical paradise you must visit.