• Date Cruise Ship PAX
    Jul 16 2024 Rhapsody of the Seas 2435

    The Port of Philipsburg (St. Maarten)

    The Port of Philipsburg/St.Maarten

    This guide is tailored for cruise passengers visiting Philipsburg (St. Maarten).
    Welcome the wonderful island of St. Maarten. This is one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean with more than 5 ships visiting on busy days. Once you've been you'll understand why. 

    Princess Juliana Airport (SXM)

    One of the most famous approaches world wide. A heaven for plane spotters. Arriving and departing airplanes is something spectacular to witness in St. Maarten. Maho Beach is the beach where it all happens. After a 25 minute drive from the port (Philipsburg), you will drive past the airport and arrive at a relatively small sandy beach located at the end of the runway. Facing the ocean, on the left side you will see Sunset Bar. On the surfboard stuck in the ground you will see the timetable for today's flights. Being a relatively small island, only 5-8 decent size aircrafts arrive/depart each day. If you're lucky you can witness a Boeing 747 or Airbus A330/340. These aircrafts touch down at SXM a couple of times a week, usually late afternoon.  

    Left: American Airlines, 767 approaching SXM. and  Right: the daily schedule for SXM (Sunset Bar)
    A visit to this unique spot will give you stories to tell back home. It's a lot of fun BUT do take care:
    Departing airplanes give full thrust to ensure proper take-off. Planes usually take off towards the mountain and turn right. This means that at departure, the back of the plane is towards the beach. The thurst can be very forcefull and strong enough to blow people and objects into the water. The force at which the sands hits you also hurts. Please take the sign on the fence (see image) very serious. 
    • Watch your children
    • Watch out for flying objects
    • Do not stand in direct line behind the aircraft 
    • Watch out for your belongings
    The most spectacular airplanes to look out for are KLM (747), AirFrance (747 or A340), AirBerlin (A330), American Airlines (757 or 767), Corsair (747). Throughout the day there are frequent arrival and departures of smaller aircrafts connecting the nearby islands of St. Barths, Tortola, Antigua, St. Thomas, San Juan.
    Airport website: http://www.pjiae.com/
    If you decide to go to Maho Beach, do make good arrangements with your taxi driver for pick up. Even in St. Maarten there is rush hour so do not get stuck in traffic and miss your ship. Reserve plenty of time to get back to the ship.


    Beaches on the Dutch side
    1. Cupecoy Beach
    2. Dawn Beach
    3. Great Bay: The beach you see from the ship. This will be the drop-off point if you take the water taxi from ship to Philipsburg. A nice sandy beach but can be crowded when many ships are in port. 
    4. Guana Bay
    5. Kimsa Bay
    6. Little Bay: This beach is located just to the west of of Great Bay (Philipsburg).
    7. Maho Beach: The beach at the end of the runway (Princess Juliana Airport). Amazing spot for plane spotters. Also nice relaxing beach, usually not too busy, especially in the morning hours. 2 bars on the beach offer plenty of soothing drinks. Approx 25 minute drive from Philipsburg. (click here for more information).
    8. Mullet Beach: A small beach on the west side of the island, near Maho Beach. This beach is connected to Cupecoy Beach. 
    9. Simpson Beach: This beach lies parallel to the airport. It is a long stretched beach that is never crowded. Perfect place for sunset
    Beaches on the French side
    1. Anse Marcel: the most nothern beach tucked away in a small cove. One of the most photogenic beaches of the island.
    2. Baie Rouge: white sandy beach where the most upscale villas are located. Most exclusive beach on the island with plenty bars to buy that special cocktail.
    3. Friars Bay
    4. Grand Case Beach
    5. Happy Bay: considered as one of St. Maarten's nicest beach, this beach has no road leading to this secluded spot. The closest road is about a 15 minute walk.
    6. Nettle Bay Beach: This is a relatively calm beach with few waves, ideal for watersports. Close to Marigot, the capital op the French side.
    7. Orient Beach: probably the most popular beach on the French side of St. Maarten. A long stretch of sandy beach with a wide variety of bars, restaurants and an great choice of water sport activities. Please note that this beach has a policy: clothing optional.

    Facts & Figures

    City: Philipsburg
    Country: St. Maarten / Saint Matrin
    Continent: North America (Caribbean)
    Area: 87 sq. km (37 sq. mi.)
    Population: 40,000 (2022)
    Currency: Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG)
    Language: Dutch, English, French
    Average temperature: 27 Celsius (80F).
    Country code: +1 721
    Country URL extension: .an and .sx
    Electricity: 110V 
    Opening hours stores: Most shops are open from 10AM-8PM
    Timezone: UTC -4



    Welcome to the port of St. Maarten

    This AI-generated guide, courtesy of ChatGPT, is tailored for cruise passengers arriving in St. Maarten for the first time.

    General Port Facts

    St. Maarten Port, located in the Caribbean, welcomes visitors with a unique dual-nation experience, offering Dutch and French influences, stunning beaches, and a lively atmosphere.

    Touristic Information

    Discover the beauty of St. Maarten, renowned for its duty-free shopping, vibrant nightlife, and crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling and water sports.

    Transportation Options

    Explore nearby attractions with these transportation options:

    • Taxis are readily available at the port for convenient island exploration.
    • Consider taking a taxi or bus to visit:
      • Philipsburg (Dutch side) - 8 km (5 miles), 15 minutes
      • Marigot (French side) - 10 km (6 miles), 20 minutes
      • Maho Beach - 5 km (3 miles), 10 minutes

    Local Foods

    Indulge in Caribbean flavors with local dishes like jerk chicken, conch fritters, and the famous "Johnny Cake" at beachside eateries or in the vibrant markets.

    Top 5 Attractions

    1. Philipsburg Boardwalk - Duty-free shopping and waterfront strolls
    2. Maho Beach - Experience low-flying aircraft (Free)
    3. Orient Bay Beach - Relax on the French side's most famous beach
    4. Fort Louis - Explore the historic French fort (Entrance: $5)
    5. The Butterfly Farm - Colorful tropical butterflies (Entrance: $15)

    Nice to Know Facts

    • St. Maarten is the smallest island shared by two nations: the Netherlands and France.
    • Maho Beach is famous for its proximity to the airport, allowing visitors to experience low-flying planes.
    • The island is known for its Carnival celebration with vibrant parades and festivities.

    Local Customs

    Both Dutch and French sides accept the U.S. Dollar. Politeness is valued, and a friendly "Bonjour" or "Good day" is appreciated. Tipping around 15-20% is customary in restaurants.

    Fun Things for Children

    • Up to 6 years old: Enjoy family time at Kim Sha Beach with calm waters.
    • 7-12 years old: Visit The Butterfly Farm for an educational and colorful experience.
    • 13-18 years old: Explore the thrill of Maho Beach with low-flying planes.

    Google Maps

    Explore the location near the cruise port on Google Maps.

    Main Tourism Office Website

    For more information, visit the official tourism office website.

    Notice: Content and travel advice presented is created by a port moderator and/or AI, courtesy of ChatGPT. It is specifically designed for cruise passengers visiting this port of call. A port moderator could be a local individual, destination expert, port authority, or a tourism agency. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, we recommend that you verify critical information like visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation with official sources before departure.