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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CMDTA on Vacation – St. Maarten – St. Martin

No, I didn’t misspell the title and no I am not talking about two countries.  St. Martin is an island in the Caribbean.  It has two names because it’s technically two different countries.  It’s up to some debate but the Island itself is called St. Martin but the island is divided into two sections.  The French side is called St. Martin and the Dutch side is called St. Maarten.  Just to clarify my wife and I visited St. Maarten.

Sadly on this trip my wife and I couldn’t afford to do any excursions so my reviews of all islands will be based on what you get in the port.  I actually hope this ends up being a helpful way of reviewing islands considering how expensive excursions have become.

St. Maarten has a pier.  Right off the bat this puts it above other islands.  I hate getting tendered on and off a cruise ship.  From the pier you could walk to the shopping area but that would be a long walk.  Instead you go to the right hand side of the port and take a water taxi to the shopping area.  It’s only a five minute boat ride and it’s totally worth it.

Where the water taxi drops you off is a long sandy beach which is lined with bars and cheap shops.  Beyond the bars and cheap shops is a street that is lined with numerous shops.  This is a great island shopping area.  I use the term “island” because it’s a typical example of what you find on almost every island in the Caribbean.  These shopping areas consist of lots of jewelry, liquor, clothing, and what I call tourist junk stores.

Tourist junk stores is where you find all the crap you laugh at when you are home, but are compelled to buy when you are on vacation.  I don’t think I need to say anything else.  You know what I am talking about.

The best part of this destination is the beach.  You can rent a beach site for next to nothing, the water is clean and warm, and the bars will serve you if you want.

Included in the beach are the bars. I say this because if you are looking for a beer you will be in heaven here.  To explain what I mean I first have to inform you about beer on cruise ships.  Carnival (Royal Caribbean and NCL) sell “beer buckets” on the ship.  These are insanely expensive four packs of beer.  Bud Light or Bud (which are both like pee in a bottle) will run you around $15 when you count the gratuity.  In St. Maarten you can buy a “beer bucket” for $10.  Oh and by the way these beer buckets have six beers, you can pick what beers are in there, and it’s not “pee in a bottle” beer.  Normally you can pick between six or so Caribbean and Mexican beers. WOOOOOOO!

So that is the St. Maarten port area.  If you are broke it’s the place to be.

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