Which side has the most to do? Best shopping? Best retaurants? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Your spelling ("St. Martin" or "Saint Martin") is the French side. The Dutch side is "Sint Maarten" even though it's geographically the same island.
The answer to your question about shopping really depends upon what products you wish to buy. If you are looking for French products, you probably would find more selection in Saint Martin. If you are looking for Dutch products, you probably will find more selection in Sint Maarten.
I really liked shopping in Marigot (French side). There are nice restaurants as well. I didn't do much in Philipsburg so I can't compare, but Marigot's shopping area was right off the main road and all very close to where the tour buses stop.
I enjoyed St. Martin better, but I'm originally from Montreal, Canada, so liked the French influence better--even though I'm English! We have shopped up and down the main drag in Phillipsburg, too-just a lot of shops. Your best bet is to take a bus tour and see both sides of the Island. You will be let out in Marigot for an hour or so and then you can be let back off in Phillipsburg on the way back to the ship. That way, you'll hear the history of both sides (and learn why one side of the island is bigger than the other, mileage/sq footage wise).
Could you highlight some of the best beaches one could get to on their own? Have done the tours & shoppng--just want a relaxing day at a nice beach with some shade, bathrooms & snacks....are there any hotels that offer a day pass?
All i know is that is my favorite port. Its so beautiful! The picture I have on my profile is from there. I dont know how much shopping you want to do, but the tours that do sightseeing on both sides covers alot.
Have a great time!
I loved the French side, but be [prepared to pay $$ for the food. I like shopping at la pharmacies for specialty items. Take a cab w/ others and split the cost to save money.
As with all shopping, be sure you know your prices stateside before you go. All you really might save is tax.
Hope this helps.
I did a tour that took me to both side of the island. Didn't see that much at Merigot (french side) but heard that the beaches are nicer on that side. Did stop at a little outdoor market that was interesting that they had a nice spice stand and lots of tshirts. There was a mall across the street but did not have time to go inside. After the tour I took the water taxi which took you to downtown philipsburg (capital of Dutch side) cost $5 all day pass. There was a small beach near the dock. Lots of shops go explore Old Street by the courthouse there is a french deli and a beligium chocolate shop that was to die for. Going back in December so going to buy some more chocolate early christmas present from my boyfriend. Love St. Martin because people were nice and it was beautiful.
St. Maarten is the smallest Island in the world to be shared by two sovereign governments-namely the Dutch and French. The Dutch side, with Philipsburg as its capital occupies the southern 17 square miles of this 37-square-mile island; St. Martin, a French dependency, occupies the northern half. The dual nationality adds variety to this most unique of island gems in the Caribbean Sea. Both Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin have maintained a peaceful coexistence for over 350 years, the longest of any two bordering nations. The two territories have enjoyed harmonious relations through their history and have shared the prosperity of many years without dispute. The Treaty of Concordia executed on March 23rd 1648 established this coexistence and has the unique distinction of being the oldest Treaty still in force today.
Best beaches and quaint ambiance: french side. THe Marina and shops are nice, but pricier, especially since prices on this side are in euros.
Best shopping: hands down the dutch side: Philipsburg. You can walk the entire length of Front St while you are there and you;ll get great deals on liquor, cigars, sunglasses, jewelry. Not sure if any of this is appealing, but I always do all my shopping here when I visit the island. The prices are so much cheaper than the US, and especially cheaper than New York.
For liquor, try Lucky II. For souvenirs, Shipwreck has nice stuff. Oh, and the guavaberry emporium is great for presents and buying some of the local island liquor. My favorite (and most trusted) jewelry store is called The Place at 67 Frontstreet near the courthouse building. I've been going there since my first trip to the island and the employees are very helpful. If you make it there, please tell her hi from Paula in New York