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Is your upcoming Caribbean cruise docking in St Maarten?  Then one thing to include in your list of things to do is to visit one of the island’s finest beaches.

Fondly known as the Friendly Island, St Maarten is unique in that it is the smallest landmass divided between two nations in the world. St Maarten is Dutch and to the north the French side is called St Martin.

St Maarten is loved by tourists and visitors to the island for its bustling night life, diverse dining options and its exciting duty free shopping experience.

In this post we will explore the top 5 beaches to visit if you are in St Maarten on a cruise. These are near the cruise port terminal for ease of access on the island.

Great Bay Beach is the closest beach to the cruise terminal in St Maarten. It takes approximately 5 minutes by water taxi and 8 minutes by car to arrive at this location. Alternatively, you can take a 20 minute stroll to Great Bay Beach. Shops, cafes, car rentals and restaurants are located nearby.

Read on for further details about St Maarten’s beautiful beaches with contributions from a native of the island.

1. Great Bay Beach

Great Bay Beach is the closest beach to the cruise terminal in St Maarten. It is located in the heart of the downtown capital Philipsburg and is about 3km from the cruise port. You can access this beach by walking. It takes about 20 minutes to arrive at this location.

Alternatively, there are water taxis available from the cruise terminal for only USD$7 round trip. Travel by water taxi is about 5 minutes and via taxi (car) about 8 minutes via Walter A Nisbeth Road.

Great Bay Beach’s location is ideal if you want to enjoy the beach as well as take advantage of the excellent duty free opportunities available on the island.

There are several shops selling watches, jewelery, perfume and electronic gadgets nearby. International brands such as Little Switzerland and Diamond International are easily accessible.

Great Bay Beach is also situated near car rentals, restaurants, bars and cafes and is a fantastic beach for swimming.

Check out the video below from In The Loop Travel that shares the walk from the cruise terminal to Great Bay Beach.

2. Orient Bay Beach

If you are looking for a beach away from the hustle of the capital city with a Caribbean feel, then Orient Bay Beach is an amazing option to consider. This beach is located on the French Side called St Martin and is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the cruise port.

Orient Bay Beach is excellent for water sport activities such as snorkeling and many individuals prefer it for swimming and sunbathing than Great Bay Beach.

Orient Bay Beach is the most popular beach in St Martin, so expect there to be a crowd. There are several beach bars such as Waikiki Beach, Kakao, Perch Bar & Grill, Bikini Beach and Kontiki Beach in this area.

Additionally, there is a clothing optional area on this beach.  Due to traffic congestion on afternoons, remember to give yourself sufficient time to return to the ship.

3. Maho Beach

Maho Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world due to its location near the runway of the Princess Juliana Airport.

Fondly known as Airplane beach, as planes usually have to approach the landing at an altitude of less than 100 feet.  As such many individuals are fascinated with plane spotting in this area.

Great care must be exercised as persons have died in the past due to the effects of the jet blast. The beach itself has suffered significant erosion due to the jet blast. As such there is little vegetation.

Water taxis to Maho Beach from the cruise port is easy to find and cost about $20. Alternatively, you can take a public transportation which costs USD $2.50 to go and USD$2.50 to return.

This is the most affordable option. Buses usually have a sign that says Maho beach and it takes approximately 20 minutes from the cruise port.

Maho Beach is usually a favorite of visitors to the island and it is a tiny beach. Therefore, depending on the time of year that you visit expect there to be a crowd. Two beach bars are located at either end of this beach being Sunset bar and grill and Driftwood boat bar respectively.

4. Dawn Beach

Located about 20 minutes by taxi from the cruise terminal, this white sand beach is surrounded by lush green landscape.

Its wide shoreline makes it a perfect spot for beach picnics and playing games on the shore. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent.

There is a large Westin resort located on this beach.

Beaches In St Maarten Near Cruise Port

5. Mullet Bay Beach

Another beach that is well loved by both locals and visitors to the island is Mullet Bay Beach. However, kindly note that this one is the furthest on this list from the cruise port.

This beach is about 30 minutes from the cruise port via taxi along Airport road. Mullet Bay has beautiful white sand with calm waters and amazing views and landscape. 

It is larger than Maho beach and it a good option for beginner snorkeling as you can see fishes near the shoreline. There are no full restrooms but there is a port-a-potty available and usually there is a crowd on weekends.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and local foods can be found at Rosie’s Snack Bar. The beach is great for swimming but at times can be rough so definitely one has to be cautious with children.

The island only has one major road. Therefore, be sure to gauge return time to the ship properly as there can be traffic jams on afternoons from this beach back to the port.

Final Thoughts

I trust that you have found this information useful if your plans are to visit a beach while on a cruise to St Maarten.

Remember especially if you are traveling via taxi or bus to give yourself ample time to get to your cruise ship.

St Maarten has one major road and it is not uncommon for there to be huge traffic congestion especially on afternoons.

I know you will love visiting this Caribbean island as much as I do.

If you are planning an upcoming cruise for St Maarten or the rest of the Caribbean, I have an awesome product recommendation that can save you money. I have recently completed an informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less.

This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.

Need More Information?

Feel free to browse our website for more content on St Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean and rest of the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page. The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.

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