Things To Do In Philipsburg
Philipsburg may be just four small lanes and measure one mile long, but it contains everything that any traveler would. The island is entirely duty-free; Philipsburg is scattered with shops where each one attempts to exceed the other in offering electronics, liquor, gems, clothes, fragrance and more. The majestic island of Philipsburg is pressed between Great Bay, where most cruise ships are moored, and Salt Pond, where salt was first made many years ago. The officials of the city made it a point to preserve the old houses along the shore to give arriving vessels a glimpse of their former glory. Guests also appreciate the city's craft exhibitions, memorable castles, cozy clubs, zoo, and the incredible, sandy beaches in its promenade.
When To Go:
This city has a tropical atmosphere, and its rainy season falls during the winter, with moderately little rain in the late spring. The temperatures are amazingly temperate in July, at around 29.5 °C. At 26.5 °C on average, January is the coldest month of the year, but anytime is perfect to spend the holidays or explore its magnificent shorelines. The sun usually rises between 5 to 6 am and sets between 5 to 7 pm. The longest daylight time normally occurs in the middle of the months of April and September.
Here are some places not to miss, and some fun things to do on the island of Philipsburg:
Little Bay Beach
The Little Bay Beach is a small beach located directly in the city center and within walking distance from the row of cruise ships. You can rent 2 chairs with an umbrella and enjoy the Wi-Fi hotspot while seeing the sunset. While you’re there, you might get lucky and see a cruise ship or two arrive and depart from St. Maarten’s busy port of call. While in St. Maarten, this is a place not to miss. It faces a bay of calm waters, with no waves, a sea bottom with no rocks, and is just a step inward from the shore. Many people use cylindrical floats to get there. It is very deep, and the water temperature is warm and comfortable.
To access the beach, you’ll have to go through the DIVI LITTLE BAY Resort. The beach isn’t flashy - just a tiny bay with an excellent view of the ocean. You can also visit Fort Amsterdam. At the top of the cliff, there is a great venue where you can clearly see all of Philipsburg from the 'Great Bay' and the Port. There are other beaches closer to the port, but they stay super busy. This one is 10 minutes away, quiet and worth a visit. The beach has very calm, turquoise water – with no rough waves and a place where you can snorkel at one end of the beach. You can rent diving equipment, snorkeling equipment, and try other water sports. Explore the quiet beach and spend a lovely day in this beautiful place, filled with white sand and warm, clear waters, and a spectacular view of the cruise ships calmly docked in front.
If you arrive in Philipsburg with a cruise ship, there'll probably be only a few hours where you will be able to get around. When this is the case, the Boardwalk, the city's waterfront, is the ideal place to go. On one hand, it is a Caribbean beach with crystal clear water. On the other hand, it has row of bars, restaurants, ice cream parlors (Gelateria Milano, right at the beginning of the Boardwalk has superb ice cream) and shops of all kinds within a 10 minute walk from the pier of the vessel. There is also a "Hard Rock Cafe" just opposite of the pier. You can take the Water Taxi, but it’s really not that necessary. The bar rents umbrellas and 2 deckchairs promising five or six drinks and free Wi-Fi for 20$/Euro.
This place is a pleasant location for a leisurely stroll or a moment of relaxation after shopping on the Front or Backstreet shopping centers. It is full of bars where you can stop for a drink or to eat lunch or dinner. All the premises offer joy and celebration at all hours of the day and at night it has different points with local bands that offer live music. If you want, you can rent chairs and umbrellas and spend time in the sun or swim. On Front Street, go and visit the local Guava Berry Rum for a tasting of the local rum that is mixed with different flavors (vanilla, coconut, almonds, etc.). The Boardwalk is truly the spot to see in Philipsburg.
Great Bay Beach
This beautiful stretch of white sand that extends for about 1 km boasts of crystal clear water and a central location for those who want to visit the center of Philipsburg. The beach is, in fact, just a 10-minute walk from the harbor and is located right in front of a number of small shops and cafés. It is highly recommended for people who want to find that little corner of paradise, but still wish to visit the city. The Great Bay Beach is in front of the Boardwalk, the major cruise port of the area. While it is not the most beautiful beach of the island, it is unique and full of charm. It has that staple blue of Caribbean beaches, but areas of the water are a bit darker and the water has some algae. The beach has all of the urban amenities, and it’s well worth spending an afternoon enjoying the warm and crystal clear water. It is near the Jet Ski rentals and Aqua Taxi terminal.
This beach is in the commercial center of the island, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a place to find silence. In terms of worthwhile features, however, it has tons of options. The beach is great for swimming, but travelers go more for the shops and the transatlantic contributed sidewalks that make it a unique place for walks on the edge. The best part - the shops in San Maarten are close to the beach, with many jewelry stores and stores that carry the latest electronic trends.
Jewelry, watches and electronics at reasonable prices, quality products and branded merchandise makes Front Street a shopping mecca for tourists and locals alike. It is a massive duty-free street in a dream island that has plenty of bars, restaurants and shops. It is worth taking a tour of the island (either by coach or taxi), along with swimming on its excellent beaches. It also has its own permanent resident; the incredible iguanas of all colors and sizes can be seen everywhere - even above the trees! You’ll get superb bargains here because some stores will negotiate pricing with you beyond what is already marked down!
Anything you want to do, you can find it here. You can spend the first part of the day going to the beach, then dedicate the rest of your time to buying some souvenir T-shirts or the latest smartphone or gadgets. There are lots of bars with spectacular views of the bay and of the many cruise ships in port. At night, the atmosphere comes alive, and it's worth spending some time enjoying the Philipsburg nightlife. If you’re looking to do some cooking, want a fast snack, or need a quick fix for an unexpected illness, you’ll find the local supermarket, drug store, and fast food shops within comfortable walking distance from the beach area.
Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit
The Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit is a nostalgic place for anyone that likes the Star Wars saga. This museum explores Nick Maley's career, the man responsible for much of the visual effects of Star Wars and several other blockbuster films, such as Superman II and III, Hellraiser and Men in Black. Part of the museum is free of charge, yet there are exhibits that require you to have a ticket or make a merchandise purchase. The Museum is not too large, but it’s loaded with fascinating memorabilia relating to showbiz and the entertainment industry.
Nick and his lovely wife will even welcome you personally! But as he will likely say, “The museum is free and is sustained by buying items from the shop.” You can stop and take a picture with him, enter the museum and buy a bookmark for about $6, or you can shop for more exclusive items to make a contribution to the venue. For those who are avid movie fans and for those who aren’t, this museum is a great treat while on a tour of the Caribbean island.
The Dawn Beach can be reached by two ways; by SUV on the unpaved southern road, or through the northern road along the French. The beach is accessible through a private resort but is still considered a public beach, open for you to swim and have a picnic with your family. Out of the 34 beaches of St Maarten, this is probably one of the interesting. To fully enjoy it, you need to be in one of the luxury hotels. Everything here is privatized and beachgoers do everything to keep it simple and just enjoy the beach without renting a seat or paying for a costly lunch.
To get to Dawn Beach, you must enter the Westin Hotel. You don’t have to pay to enter the Westin, but they offer some amenities that might be worth purchasing. Upon arrival, there is a sign that says Chairs and parasols are for hotel guests”, but you can rent them if you ask. The beach has very soft, white sand and a beautiful ocean. If you’d like, you can visit the famous beach of St. Barth. Keep in mind, the sea here has rough, strong currents and huge waves. Be careful to not go with children due to the unpredictability of the current. For those who like a powerful current, this is ideal. It is not as crowded as the other beaches in Philipsburg and can be a welcome escape from the crowds.
Two nations, two flags, and two capitals, all within an area of about 87 km sq. This island has been divided (after the departure of the Spanish) for the past 360 years by France and The Netherlands and is the smallest territory in the world touched by such fate. Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch territory, is the island’s main commercial and tourist center. It has a beautiful promenade - Front Street, with the Palace of Justice (1793) and the Methodist Church. At the end of the peninsula, the city is protected by the presence of the Philipsburg Courthouse, serving the capital of Saint Maarten since the early times. On the French side, there are shopping centers with magnificent luxury boutiques. The market is beautiful and full of life. The town of Grand-Case offers a selection of excellent French restaurants.
The courthouse was created in 1793 and was originally the home of city founder, John Philips. Although presently it is being used as a courthouse, in the past, it has also been used as a prison, a fire station, and the central post office. It sits on a narrow street, where you can take lots of pictures to remember your time on this beautiful island. The building stands out for its unique architecture and central location and is really impressive. It is built entirely of wood and worth seeing. The court in Philipsburg (Courthouse) is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It dates back from the late 18th century. Although it is more than 200 years old, the building is very well maintained. This is one of the most photographed places on the island and is close to the beach and its many shops.
St. Maarten Museum
The collection is very varied inside the St. Maarten Museum, but you’ll find the Indian exhibit of particular interest. The rest is very diverse, but due to the many different themes, exhibits can jump from one timeline to another. The bric-a-brac like things are displayed in a manner that makes it easy to learn about the island in this treasure chest of a museum located in Philipsburg.
St. Maarten Zoo
The St. Maarten Zoo is a diverse zoo with parrots, monkeys, turtles, etc. In some cases, you can even feed the animals. At the beginning of the tour, you can purchase food for the animals. Once inside, you will be led by a guide throughout the site. It is a really great experience - seeing the freewheeling giant turtles that will eat out of your hand and the many birds (mainly parrots) that come immediately and wait for their turn to capture your attention. An employee of the zoo will even let you get inside the monkey cage, where you will be allowed to stroke the tame animal.
During your visit to the museum, consider making a donation, as there are little funds for maintaining the exhibits. There are several areas of the venue that could use a lot of love and care, and donations help the zoo staff improve the care of the animals and their habitats. The zoo is worth looking forward to because there aren’t many places where you can freely take a bag of food and animals will quickly come to you. They are the cutest, and you will never tire of looking at them, including an especially clever monkey who loves to pick up biscuits. It is a nice bonding activity with the family; be sure to bring the kids.
You can book a round trip tour with Soualiga Destinations onboard a powerboat with a small group of people. You will delight in the exciting excursion during the cruise. Captain Brad and his girlfriend Laura are very friendly and helpful. They will introduce you to several beautiful beaches and bays on St Maarten where you can snorkel, swim, and do a little sunbathing on the beach. The experience is blissful, and if the timing is good, you can see planes land at the famous airport of St. Maarten. It is exciting to have an airplane passing 10 or 20 feet above your heads.
Due to the relatively small size of the boat, you will likely get to know the other tourists that travel with you. During the afternoon, the boat is brought alive with local music to entertain you and expose you to St. Maarten melodies. The sense of feeling the wind in your hair while the boat is flying at top speed over the Caribbean water is exhilarating. In the afternoon, you will be treated to an excellent, hot meal in a restaurant on the beach. Throughout the trip, there are free soft drinks and beer. In short, it is the best choice for an entertaining and fun excursion.
The capital of the southern part of St Marten Island, Philipsburg is an area marked by low buildings and narrow streets. It is very busy during business hours as the city is great for shopping, at luxury stores such as Furla, Cartier, and Polo. You’ll also find perfume shops, places to get drinks, and so much more on Front Street. There are also lots of excellent beaches with calm waters and pleasing temperatures. The blue pools, chairs with parasols, and an extensive promenade with shops, bars and restaurants make Philipsburg a lively place that you won’t want to miss.