About Philipsburg, St. Maarten
An island under two flags, St. Martin/St. Maarten is French and Dutch. Philipsburg is on the Dutch side and famous for its duty-free emporia and casinos. A short drive will bring you to Marigot, a charming French Colonial outpost featuring shops filled with French fashions and imported Gallic goodies, as well as beautiful beaches.
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3709 reviews and tips of Philipsburg, St. MaartenWrite A Port Tip
St Maarten is open for business and putting their best face forward. We did an ATV tour which started out a bit dicey. We booked through the Shipmate App, and had reservations for 2 single riders. The ShorEx paperwork said to meet our representative from “Blue Bubbles” near the Tourist information desk by the bronze statue at 9am. We had no trouble finding the place, but nobody showed up at 9am. At 9:10am we called the local contact number but got no answer. We then tried the emergency contact number. Got a message “ that number is not assigned”. On trying the local number again, someone finally answered and said “Ask the people behind the info desk how to find where we are at.” The tourist info person said to go out of the port security gates and ask for “Kinja” or something like that. There were a bunch of taxi drivers milling about, and when I shouted out “Anyone know Kinja? We’re supposed to meet him for ATV rides” one of them looked up and said follow me. We walked about a half block and crossed the street to a partially fenced in area with a few ATV’s and a bunch of wrecked equipment. A darkly tanned young man strolled down decked out in bling and introduced himself as Safraaz. He made a phone call and then determined we were his only customers for the ATV tour. It’s a good thing because it didn’t look like there were more than 3 ATV’s in running condition. He gave us he briefest of safety briefings and operational instruction (we explained that we have experience with these machines), we were off and running. The entire tour took place on St Maarten’s streets. There was no off roading or tearing up any beaches, but we were fine with that, since we mostly just wanted to see the sights without being jammed into a bus. We zipped over to the French side of the Island to Orient Beach. Along the way, the devastation from Hurricane Irma was truly impressive. There were piles of rubble where buildings had once stood, and buildings that had survived still had obvious damage to roofs and siding. Lots of plywood over windows and many cars were driving around with smashed windshields and plastic duct taped over other windows. The outside of the International Jeweler’s store at the head of the dock was under obvious construction, but they were open for business. The roads we rode over were in pretty good condition, but it was shocking to see all the wrecked boats that had been flipped upside down or tossed onto the shore everywhere we went. There were also plenty or wrecked cars and it was rare to see dwellings that looked like they were ok. The Dutch side of the Island was in a more advanced stage of reconstruction than the French side, where neighborhoods looked like shantytowns. The resort at Orient Beach was totally destroyed. It was very windy when we were there. There was a bar and cantina set up on the beach, but we didn’t check it out too closely. The beach is still lovely, despite the shredded and uprooted palm trees and ugly naked men. The club at the end of the beach was destroyed. Walking through the destroyed resort was like taking a post-apocalypse tour. It was sad, but also gave us a new respect for the forces of nature. There were steel reinforced concrete bungalows that looked like a giant had crumpled them like saltine crackers. We didn’t get in the water because it was so windy, but there were plenty of kite boarders riding the waves. Our next stop was a shopping area, which we passed on because we would rather spend more time at the airport beach, so we rode on around the island. The Airport beach had a bar and restaurant open, and it was a lovely but slightly steep banked narrow beach. A Jet Blue Airlines plane was scheduled to land, but all we saw were two small turboprops land. The Jet Blue flight was either more than 20 minutes late, or cancelled. We did see a 737 take off, sending some Japanese tourists scampering down the beach after their hats and bags got caught in the jet wash. Pretty funny. We the rode to a huge flag erected 3 months after hurricane Irma to lift the spirits of the Islanders. It was a nice view of the city, but you had to wonder if all that concrete they poured on the foundation of that massive flagpole might have been put to better use rebuilding homes. Anyways, we got a nice open air adventure tour and returned to the ship with hours to spare. Seeing the amount of destruction left by Irma, and how hard the islanders have had to struggle to get back on their feet has really left a lasting impression on me. Come to St Maarten and see it. They really need our tourist dollars to recover. Our ship is only he second Princess ship to call St Maarten since Irma, and our tour was the first for Blue Bubbles since Irma as well, so we’re sure things are just going to keep getting better.
3 of 93 shore excursions in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
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