Skip to Content

St. Maarten Cruise Port: 45 Best Things to Do & Logistics

Embark on a vibrant Caribbean adventure with our Ultimate Guide to St. Maarten cruise port.

From seamless port logistics to a treasure trove of activities tailored for every type of traveler, this guide promises to enhance your cruise stop in the sun-kissed island of St. Maarten.

Port Logistics for St. Maarten Cruise Port

Getting to Know the Port

St. Maarten’s primary cruise port, Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility, is located in Philipsburg, the island’s capital.

This bustling port welcomes cruisers with its well-equipped terminal and easy access to the island’s main attractions.

Location and Facilities:

  • Philipsburg Cruise Terminal offers a modern and efficient gateway to St. Maarten.
  • Facilities include duty-free shops, a variety of dining options, and Wi-Fi availability for a fee.
  • Information desks provide maps, excursion bookings, and helpful advice for exploring the island.

Arriving and Departing:

  • Taxis and Shuttles: A regulated taxi stand is located just outside the terminal. Fares are fixed to popular destinations.
  • Public Transportation: Minibuses serve as an affordable option for getting around, though they don’t follow a strict schedule.
  • Rental Services: Car rental agencies are available for those wishing to explore the island at their own pace.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

Terminal Tips:

  • Navigating the Terminal: It’s compact and easy to navigate, with clear signage directing passengers.
  • Security Measures: Be prepared for security checks when re-entering the terminal area from the island.

Navigating the Port Efficiently:

  • Arrival Times: For those heading out on excursions, it’s wise to disembark as early as possible to avoid crowds.
  • Local Currency: The local currency is the Antillean guilder (ANG) on the Dutch side, but US dollars are widely accepted. ATMs are available in the terminal.
  • Dress Appropriately: The island is casual, but some religious sites and upscale restaurants may require more conservative attire.

By familiarizing yourself with the logistics of the St. Maarten cruise port, you can embark on your island adventure with ease, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience from the moment you dock.

Whether you’re exploring Philipsburg’s charming streets, heading out to the island’s renowned beaches, or setting off on an excursion, St. Maarten welcomes cruisers with open arms and a promise of unforgettable experiences.

St. Maarten Cruise Port

Cruise Lines and Itineraries

Common Cruise Lines Visiting St. Maarten

St. Maarten is a favored stop for many major cruise lines, offering a blend of Caribbean charm and cosmopolitan vibes.

Here are some of the cruise lines that include St. Maarten in their itineraries:

  • Royal Caribbean International: Known for innovative ships and exciting itineraries, Royal Caribbean often includes St. Maarten in its Eastern Caribbean cruises.
  • Carnival Cruise Line: Offering fun-filled itineraries perfect for families and groups, Carnival cruises frequently dock at St. Maarten, promising a day of adventure and relaxation.
  • Celebrity Cruises: With a focus on luxury and immersive experiences, Celebrity’s itineraries to St. Maarten cater to those looking for a more refined cruise experience.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): NCL’s freestyle cruising approach allows for a flexible and laid-back visit to St. Maarten, ideal for those who value freedom and variety.

Popular Itineraries Including St. Maarten:

  • Eastern Caribbean Cruises: Typically 7 to 10 days, these cruises often stop in St. Maarten, along with other beautiful islands like St. Thomas and the Bahamas.
  • Southern Caribbean Cruises: Longer itineraries (10+ days) may include St. Maarten as a key destination alongside less frequented islands, offering a deeper exploration of the Caribbean’s diversity.
  • Luxury Caribbean Cruises: For those seeking an upscale experience, luxury cruises offer extended stays in ports like St. Maarten, providing ample time to enjoy the island’s sophisticated side.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

Choosing Your Cruise: When selecting a cruise that visits St. Maarten, consider the following tips to ensure the best experience.

  • Duration and Destinations: Match the itinerary to your available time and desired destinations. St. Maarten is a highlight of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruises.
  • Ship Size and Amenities: Larger ships offer more onboard activities and amenities, while smaller ships can provide a more intimate and personalized experience.
  • Time of Year: Peak season in the Caribbean runs from December to April, offering dry weather and pleasant temperatures. Off-peak months may present more affordable options but with a higher chance of rain.
  • Port Activities: Look into what each cruise line offers in terms of excursions and port activities in St. Maarten. Whether you’re interested in beach outings, cultural tours, or water sports, choose a line that aligns with your interests.

Embarking on a cruise that includes St. Maarten opens up a world of tropical beauty, thrilling adventures, and cultural richness.

Whether you’re cruising with family, as a couple, or solo, St. Maarten offers an array of experiences to enhance your Caribbean journey.

St. Maarten Cruise Port

Top 45 Things to Do in St. Maarten

For the Beach Enthusiast

1. Maho Beach:

  • Famous for its close-up views of airplanes landing at the nearby airport, Maho Beach offers a unique experience.
  • Activities: Plane watching, sunbathing, and swimming.
  • Tips: The best times for plane watching are in the late morning and early afternoon when most international flights arrive.

2. Mullet Bay Beach:

  • Known for its white sandy beach and crystal-clear waters, ideal for a relaxing day under the sun.
  • Activities: Snorkeling, paddle boarding, and beach volleyball.
  • Tips: Arrive early to find a prime spot; the beach can get crowded, especially when multiple cruise ships are in port.

3. Happy Bay Beach:

  • A secluded beach accessible by a short hike, offering a more private beach experience.
  • Activities: Sunbathing, snorkeling, and picnicking.
  • Tips: Bring your own food and water as there are no facilities on this beach. Wear comfortable shoes for the hike.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Adventure Seeker

4. Zip-lining at Loterie Farm:

  • Fly over the treetops and experience the island’s natural beauty from above.
  • Activities: Zip-lining, hiking, and relaxing in the spring-fed pool.
  • Tips: Book in advance, especially on busy cruise days, and wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes.

5. ATV Tours:

  • Explore the rugged terrain of St. Maarten on an adrenaline-pumping ATV tour.
  • Activities: Guided tours through off-road trails, beaches, and scenic viewpoints.
  • Tips: Drivers need a valid driver’s license; sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended.

6. Snorkeling at Creole Rock:

  • Part of the French Marine Park, Creole Rock is known for its clear waters and diverse marine life.
  • Activities: Guided snorkeling tours, seeing tropical fish, sea turtles, and coral formations.
  • Tips: Equipment is usually provided; beginners are welcome as guides offer instruction and assistance.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Culture and History Buff

7. St. Maarten Museum:

  • Learn about the island’s rich history and cultural heritage through exhibits and artifacts.
  • Activities: Viewing historical exhibits, attending cultural events and lectures.
  • Tips: Check the museum’s schedule for special exhibits and events during your visit.

8. Fort Amsterdam:

  • The first Dutch military outpost in the Caribbean, offering panoramic views of Philipsburg and the ocean.
  • Activities: Exploring the ruins, bird watching for the brown pelican colonies.
  • Tips: Wear comfortable shoes for walking on uneven surfaces and bring a camera for the stunning views.

9. Marigot Market:

  • A vibrant market in the capital of the French side, offering a taste of local life and products.
  • Activities: Shopping for local crafts, spices, and fresh produce. Sampling French and Caribbean delicacies.
  • Tips: The market is open primarily in the morning; bring cash in small denominations.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Foodie

10. French Pastry in Marigot:

  • The French capital of St. Martin is renowned for its authentic bakeries, offering a slice of France in the Caribbean.
  • Activities: Sampling croissants, pain au chocolat, and other French pastries.
  • Tips: Visit early in the morning when pastries are freshest. Sarafina’s is a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

11. St. Maarten Food Tour:

  • Embark on a culinary journey through Philipsburg, sampling local and international dishes.
  • Activities: Guided food tours featuring stops at hidden gems and popular eateries, tasting dishes like johnnycakes, conch, and guavaberry liqueur.
  • Tips: Wear comfortable shoes and come hungry, as you’ll be eating plenty!

12. Dining in Grand Case:

  • Known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, Grand Case offers a wide array of gourmet restaurants and local lolos (food stands).
  • Activities: Savoring French cuisine, fresh seafood, and Creole dishes.
  • Tips: Make dinner reservations for popular restaurants. Don’t miss trying a rum-based drink at one of the beachfront bars.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Family Traveler

13. Loterie Farm Family Pool:

  • A hidden oasis offering family-friendly pools and cabanas nestled within a lush, tropical setting.
  • Activities: Swimming, cabana rentals, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
  • Tips: Book a cabana in advance for privacy and comfort. The farm also offers hiking trails for a family adventure.

14. St. Maarten Zoo:

  • The largest zoological park in the Caribbean, featuring a variety of animals and plants native to the region.
  • Activities: Exploring exhibits, participating in feeding sessions, and educational programs for kids.
  • Tips: Check the zoo’s schedule for special events and feeding times to enhance your visit.

15. Water Sports at Orient Bay:

  • Orient Bay is famous for its water sports and family-friendly activities.
  • Activities: Wind surfing, jet skiing, and parasailing. Kid-friendly water parks float near the shore.
  • Tips: Rent equipment early in the day. Some water sports vendors offer lessons for beginners.

For the Luxury Seeker

16. Designer Shopping in Philipsburg:

  • Front Street in Philipsburg is lined with boutiques offering luxury goods from around the world.
  • Activities: Shopping for designer brands, jewelry, and duty-free electronics.
  • Tips: U.S. citizens can take advantage of duty-free allowances, but it’s wise to know your country’s limits.

17. Private Yacht Charter:

  • Explore the waters around St. Maarten and neighboring islands with a private yacht charter.
  • Activities: Tailored itineraries featuring snorkeling, island hopping, and gourmet dining.
  • Tips: Book in advance and specify any special requests or interests to customize your experience.

18. Spa Day at a Resort:

  • Indulge in a day of pampering and relaxation at one of St. Maarten’s luxury resorts.
  • Activities: Massages, facials, and body treatments using local and exotic ingredients.
  • Tips: Many resorts offer day passes for non-guests to use their facilities, including pools and private beaches.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Eco-Tourist

19. Kayak through Simpson Bay Lagoon:

  • Paddle through the largest saltwater lagoon in the Caribbean, surrounded by mangroves and home to diverse marine life.
  • Activities: Guided kayak tours, bird watching, and learning about the ecosystem.
  • Tips: Sunscreen and water are must-haves. Early morning or late afternoon tours are cooler and offer the best wildlife viewing.

20. Guided Nature Walks:

  • Explore the island’s rich biodiversity with a knowledgeable guide, walking through trails that offer stunning views and encounters with local flora and fauna.
  • Activities: Hiking, photography, and bird watching.
  • Tips: Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring binoculars for bird watching. Check for walks that match your fitness level.

21. Beach Clean-Up Activity:

  • Participate in a meaningful beach clean-up, contributing to the preservation of St. Maarten’s natural beauty.
  • Activities: Collecting trash, learning about marine conservation, and making a positive impact on the environment.
  • Tips: Wear gloves and closed-toe shoes. Sun protection and water are essential. Check local listings for scheduled clean-ups.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Water Sports Enthusiast

22. Windsurfing at Le Galion Beach:

  • Known for its calm waters and steady winds, Le Galion Beach is perfect for both beginners and experienced windsurfers.
  • Activities: Windsurfing lessons, equipment rental, and freestyle surfing.
  • Tips: Early mornings typically have the best conditions. Instructors are available for beginners.

23. Deep-Sea Fishing Off the Coast:

  • Embark on an exciting deep-sea fishing adventure in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, known for marlin, tuna, and mahi-mahi.
  • Activities: Half-day and full-day fishing charters, with opportunities for both trolling and bottom fishing.
  • Tips: Book in advance, especially during peak season. Sun protection, hats, and non-slip shoes are recommended.

24. Sailing Lessons in Simpson Bay:

  • Learn to sail in one of the Caribbean’s prime locations, with clear waters and favorable winds providing the perfect classroom.
  • Activities: Sailing courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced. Participating in regattas for experienced sailors.
  • Tips: Choose a certified sailing school. Pack light layers and waterproof gear.

25. Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Kim Sha Beach:

  • Experience the beauty of St. Maarten’s coastline from a stand-up paddleboard, with calm waters making it ideal for beginners.
  • Activities: SUP rentals, guided tours along the coast, and SUP yoga classes.
  • Tips: Morning sessions offer the calmest sea conditions. Sunscreen and a hat are must-haves.

For the Shopper and Art Lover

26. Front Street Shopping in Philipsburg:

  • The heart of St. Maarten’s shopping district, offering a wide range of duty-free goods, from jewelry to electronics.
  • Activities: Shopping for duty-free luxury goods, local crafts, and souvenirs. Enjoying the vibrant street atmosphere.
  • Tips: Compare prices at different shops to find the best deals. Most shops close by 6 PM, so plan your visit accordingly.

27. Art Gallery Hopping:

  • St. Maarten is home to numerous art galleries showcasing Caribbean and international artists.
  • Activities: Exploring galleries, meeting artists, attending art openings.
  • Tips: Check the opening hours as they can vary. Some galleries also offer workshops and talks with the artists.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Nightlife Enthusiast

28. Sunset Beach Bar at Maho Beach:

  • Famous for its location at the end of the runway and spectacular sunset views.
  • Activities: Watching planes, enjoying live music, and sipping on tropical cocktails.
  • Tips: Check the flight schedule posted daily for the best times to watch the planes. Arrive early to get a good spot for sunset.

29. Casino Gaming and Shows:

  • St. Maarten boasts several casinos offering a variety of gaming options and live entertainment.
  • Activities: Trying your luck at slots or table games, enjoying live shows and entertainment.
  • Tips: Set a budget for gambling beforehand. Check out the show schedules in advance.

For the Family and Kids

30. Loterie Farm Hidden Forest Café and Pool:

  • A nature escape with hiking trails, zip lines, and a pool area perfect for families.
  • Activities: Swimming, hiking, and enjoying the natural surroundings.
  • Tips: The pool area requires an entrance fee. Bring swimwear, towels, and eco-friendly sunscreen.

31. St. Maarten Zoo:

  • The largest zoo in the Caribbean, featuring a variety of animals and a children’s play area.
  • Activities: Exploring animal exhibits, participating in feeding times, and educational programs.
  • Tips: Wear comfortable shoes and bring water. The zoo offers shaded areas and seating throughout.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Leisure Seeker

32. Relaxing at Little Bay Beach:

  • A serene beach ideal for those looking to relax away from the crowds.
  • Activities: Snorkeling, sunbathing, and enjoying beachside service.
  • Tips: There are rental chairs and umbrellas available. Arrive early to claim a prime spot.

33. Spa Day at a Luxury Resort:

  • Indulge in a day of pampering and relaxation at one of St. Maarten’s top spas.
  • Activities: Enjoying massages, facials, and body treatments.
  • Tips: Book treatments in advance, especially during peak season. Ask about package deals for the best value.

For the Adventure and Exploration Lover

34. Hiking to Pic Paradis:

  • The highest point on the island offers breathtaking views and a rewarding hike.
  • Activities: Guided or solo hikes, bird watching, and enjoying panoramic island views.
  • Tips: Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water. Early morning hikes are cooler and offer the best visibility.

35. SNUBA Diving at Creole Rock:

  • A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, SNUBA allows you to explore underwater without full scuba gear.
  • Activities: Guided SNUBA tours, observing marine life up close.
  • Tips: No certification is required. Listen carefully to the pre-dive briefing for safety instructions.

For the Environmental Advocate

36. Mangrove Kayak and Snorkel Tour:

  • Discover the importance of mangroves to St. Maarten’s ecosystem while kayaking and snorkeling.
  • Activities: Guided tours through mangrove forests, snorkeling in clear waters.
  • Tips: Wear long sleeves and eco-friendly sunscreen for protection. Waterproof cameras are recommended for photos.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Culinary Explorer

37. Rum Tasting Experience:

  • Discover the rich tradition of Caribbean rum with a guided tasting of locally produced and international rums.
  • Activities: Sampling various rums, learning about distillation and aging processes.
  • Tips: Many distilleries offer tours and tastings; booking in advance ensures availability.

For the Wellness and Fitness Aficionado

38. Yoga Retreats:

  • Engage in rejuvenating yoga sessions amidst St. Maarten’s serene landscapes, from beachfront to hilltop locations.
  • Activities: Participating in yoga classes, wellness workshops, and meditation sessions.
  • Tips: Bring your yoga mat and water. Some resorts offer one-day passes for non-guests.

39. Hiking to Pic Paradis:

  • Trek to the highest point on the island for breathtaking panoramic views.
  • Activities: Guided hikes, photography, and bird watching.
  • Tips: Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water. Early morning hikes are cooler and offer the best chance to see wildlife.

For the Adventure and Exploration Lover

40. Exploring the Underwater World by Submarine:

  • Dive into the depths aboard a real submarine, exploring coral reefs and sunken ships without getting wet.
  • Activities: Underwater exploration, marine life observation.
  • Tips: Book in advance as spots fill up quickly. Cameras are a must for capturing the vibrant underwater life.

41. Jet Ski Tours:

  • Experience the thrill of speeding across the turquoise waters on a guided jet ski tour.
  • Activities: Exploring coastlines, secluded beaches, and snorkeling spots.
  • Tips: Operators offer various tour lengths; sunscreen and waterproof cameras are recommended.
St. Maarten Cruise Port

For the Family and Kids

42. Butterfly Farm:

  • Wander among hundreds of colorful butterflies in a tropical garden setting.
  • Activities: Educational tours, photography, and butterfly feeding.
  • Tips: Visit in the morning when butterflies are most active. The farm offers a return pass valid for your entire vacation.

43. Pirate Treasure Hunt:

  • Embark on a family-friendly adventure seeking pirate treasure, learning about the island’s history along the way.
  • Activities: Solving clues, exploring historic sites, and treasure finding.
  • Tips: Suitable for families with children of all ages. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water.

For the Relaxation Seeker

44. Luxury Spa Day:

  • Pamper yourself with a day at one of St. Maarten’s luxurious spas, enjoying treatments that blend Caribbean and international techniques.
  • Activities: Massages, facials, body wraps, and hydrotherapy.
  • Tips: Book treatments in advance, especially if you’re visiting during peak cruise season.

45. Sunset Sail:

  • Unwind on a peaceful evening sail along St. Maarten’s picturesque coastline, watching the sun dip below the horizon.
  • Activities: Enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, listening to soothing music.
  • Tips: Bring a light jacket as it can get cool on the water after sunset. Ideal for couples and photography enthusiasts.

This selection rounds out our guide to the top 45 things to do in St. Maarten, offering a wide array of experiences for every type of traveler.

From the culinary explorer and wellness enthusiast to families and couples seeking relaxation or adventure, St. Maarten promises unforgettable moments for all its visitors.

St Maarten cruise port