Things to Do in St. Maarten On a Cruise Stop

Whether you have three hours or a full day, these are the best things to do in St. Maarten

Things to Do in St. Maarten: Three Hours

What to Do on Your St. Maarten Cruise Stop | St. Maarten Cruise Port | St. Maarten Layover Ideas | 3 Hours

3 Hours

Head to St. Martin: It would be a shame to stop in St. Maarten and not visit both countries that share this island. No formalities necessary to leave the Dutch side, where ships dock, and visit France. There's barely a sign, but I always know when I've crossed the border. Vive la différence. Do Like the French: Start at a patisserie near the waterfront for an espresso and a pastry. I can't resist the pain au chocolat at Sarafina's and the people-watching from the terrace. Shop for Gifts: The gazebos at the open-air market on the waterfront are packed with goodies — madras sacks overflowing with spices, and travel-friendly bottled and jarred options. Olive Augustine sells homemade rum-based liqueurs (try the guavaberry) and tropical-fruit jams in bottles she paints herself. Get There: Inexpensive minivan buses run between Philipsburg and Marigot, but a taxi is faster, and rates are government regulated._ _Photo By Zach Stovall
What to Do on Your St. Maarten Cruise Stop | St. Maarten Cruise Port | St. Maarten Layover Ideas | 6 Hours

6 Hours

Explore Grand Case: At cafes near the water's edge, waiters deliver chilled rosé under beach umbrellas: In Grand Case, I swear I'm in the south of France. The beach here may not be prettier than the isle's 36 others, but it has the added attraction of excellent eats. Get Wet: First, a swim — the sea is calm — then a pre-lunch aperitif on the sand at Calmos Cafe. Order a pastis and clink glasses with a "tchin-tchin." Keep It Casual: There are plenty of restos serving multicourse lunches, but I like to stay laid-back at one of the cheap barbecue joints called lolos. No haute cuisine here: Think smoky grills with fish and lobster; plastic cutlery and shared picnic tables. I swear by Lolo #6. Get There: It's a 25-minute drive from the pier. Rent a car or take a taxi.Photo By Zach Stovall
What to Do on Your St. Maarten Cruise Stop | St. Maarten Cruise Port | St. Maarten Layover Ideas | Full Day

Full Day

Fly to Saba: Saba is a Caribbean island where I've never needed sunblock. There are no beaches. Cloud cover hugs Mount Scenery more often than not. Why go? To hike rainforests where branches sprout color in the form of orchids and birds. Before setting off, check into the Saba Conservation Foundation's shop for a map and friendly advice from the staff on route choice. Stay the Night: Set among the hillsides of the lower town known as The Bottom, Queen's Gardens Resort brings the great outdoors in: All but one of the 12 suites lack a fourth wall, so the sea serves as a backdrop for the private Jacuzzis. **** Indulge: Do dinner at Queen's Gardens Restaurant, and try the jumbo-shrimp squid-ink pasta, garnished with onion chutney. Get There: Winair offers four daily flights to Saba; the cheapest one starts at $90. Travel by the Dawn II___ ferry costs half as much, but it only operates Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. sabactransport.com_ —___ _Brooke Morton Did You Know? St. Maarten is the smallest landmass shared by two governments. Don’t be upset if someone calls you doudou; it means “sweetie.” There are 37 beaches — one for each of the isle’s 37 square miles. The day’s first sale in Marigot is considered lucky, so bargain then.Photo By Zach Stovall