St Maarten – Caribbean Vice

Casinos, adult entertainment, night clubs, mega liquor stores, St Maarten stands apart from its immediate neighbors with its spring break forever ethos. The mega cruise ships dock in shopping town Philipsburg while the parties rage at the resorts by the airport at Maho Beach.

St Maarten 04

Booze it up! indeed

In this series:

Easily accessible from the US and Europe, St Maarten’s beachside airport, famed for its jet blasts that give onlookers a face-full of sand, serves as a regional hub. Not to say it is a budget destination, none of the nearby islands are deals compared to US mainland beach destinations. There are ways to go off the beaten path in St Maarten, and the milieu changes drastically on the short ride up the French side, St Martin, though a quiet beach vacation is not the point.

St Maarten 02

Nightclub & Sanctuary?

I used St Maarten as a base as I island hopped on WinAir, spending two nights near the airport and budget hotel Travel Inn Hotel at Simpson’s Bay, only recommended as a cheap place to spend a night while in transit. The only major chain hotel is the Westin. At a remote location on the French side at a remote location is a Radisson Blu.

The stretch from Maho Bay/Airport to Simpson’s Bay to Philipsburg is plied by frequent, safe minivans in lieu of public buses. From Simpson’s Bay it is US$1.50 to Maho Bay/Airport and $2.00 to Philipsburg. I never waited more than four minutes for a van. Basing at a resort at Maho Bay is a good option, there are no night flights, and it is only a 15-minute walk or short ride from the terminal. I never saw any vans going to Marigot on the French side, they may run from Philipsburg, so for that I took a taxi for $20.

St Maarten 03

Airport minivan stop

Food options are mostly standard fare, mains typically $20+ at sit-down restaurants, and there are fast food outlets as well. I did not have any meal to highlight.

St Maarten 06

Typical menu prices

One stop at the Sunset Bar & Grill at Maho Beach is de rigueur to see the planes coming and going, though it is standard fare an inattentive service. They have pizzas named after major airlines serving the island, still no Delta, and there is a Continental instead of United. They should have a joke pizza, the LIAT, that never arrives.

St Maarten 01

Sunset Bar & Grill

If you want to party this is an option, though you can probably have a better experience at a better price in Florida. Otherwise, catch the next flight or ferry to one of the more interesting or tranquil islands.

St Maarten 05

Hedonist tourism

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20 Comments on "St Maarten – Caribbean Vice"

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guera
Guest

Nice tip to go to Tintamarre island.

Marshall Jackson
Guest

Love reading the details on this trip!

Erndog
Guest

The Radisson Blu leaves the Radisson chain next week and re-brands as an all-inclusive Riu property

http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2014/3/26/105411/535/hotels/Riu's_Decision_to_Buy_the_Radisson_Blu_St._Martin_Raises_A_Lot_of_Questions

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Erbdog – interesting news, I did not get to visit it however with its remote location an all-inclusive may make sense. From what I read, the rooms don’t have ocean view which seems to defeat the purpose of going to St Maarten. Too bad to lose a rare points hotel option in the area.

Tracy T.
Guest

I’m headed to SXM tomorrow just for a quick visit , so this was an interesting read. Hope you post the next installment before I leave!

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Tracy T – I am flying to Europe tonight so will take a bit, however I recommend spending time up on the French side, nice chill vibe; day tripping to Anguilla from Marigotbis cheap on the ferry however there is little to do per se and you need to rent a car or taxi to see anything, Ingrid was my delightful driver, ingrid_taxi85@hotmail.com.

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Tracy T – other island day tripping is possible as well though a bit more rixey either WinAir flights or the ferry to St. Barth’s, which leaves on the far east of St Maarten so need to have a car or taxi added on. Saba was my favorite island for scenery.

The Weekly Flyer
Guest

…or Saba

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@The Weekly Flyer – I particularly enjoyed Saba though lack of beaches is not for everyone; my quick peek at Anguilla was very chill.

The Weekly Flyer
Guest

…like Anguilla

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