Before arriving in St. Maarten/Martin, I honestly did not know anything about the island. I didn’t know about any of the things to do in St Maarten. I probably couldn’t even locate it on a map. That’s a little embarrassing considering the fact that I am a travel blogger, but whatever… it’s the truth. Even though I knew zilch about the place, I was still really excited to explore the island and add not one, but two new countries to my list. That’s right, the island is technically two countries with one side being Dutch and the other side being French. Since I am on a mission to eventually join the Traveler’s Century Club, hitting up two countries in one stop made me very happy.
Our cruise ship docked on the Dutch side in Philipsburg, St. Maarten and this was a great starting point for our day. Of the things to do in St Maarten, there are quite a lot of shops and restaurants at the port to start with. We shopped for about an hour before our island tour was scheduled to begin. All of the shops had typical t-shirts and various souvenirs that you can find almost anywhere in the Caribbean. I waited until the end of the day to purchase souvenirs however because I didn’t want to carry them around all day. After browsing for a while, it was soon time for our tour to begin.
(phone number: 721-522-3147)
This is a company that offers wheelchair accessible tours of both sides of the island in an adapted van with a lift. The van is big enough for about ten people and two wheelchairs, but it was just my friend Kela and I on our tour. It is a set price no matter how many people are on the tour so we ended up paying a higher price per person than a group of ten would for example.
For our 3 hour tour, it was $200 exactly for the two of us. Sure, that’s a bit much, but I couldn’t find any other accessible tours that hit multiple things to do in St Maarten so I just sucked it up and forked over the cash as I was desperate for a good tour. Sometimes there are advantages to being in a wheelchair (reduced admission to theme parks, free parking, etc), but there aren’t any when it comes to going on tours in new countries due to prices always being higher and touring options being limited. Some of the other tours that Carnival Cruise Lines offered were just $50 per person, but none of these tours were accessible. In the very small chance that Carnival reads this, please get more accessible excursions!! I don’t like being stuck at the port and I really don’t like paying a premium price for an average tour, but what else can you do?
Okay, I’m done ranting now, but charging more for accessible tours is probably my biggest pet peeve. Our driver was extremely nice however and tried to ensure that we were always smiling and having fun. He told us a few jokes and some interesting facts about the island.
Here are three facts that I learned:
- Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten is the 4th most dangerous airport in the world, so be careful and hold on tight if you’re arriving by plane.
- The island of Sint Maarten and Saint Martin is only 37 square miles, making it the smallest piece of land to be shared by two governments.
- The Caribbean islands of Anguilla and St. Barth’s are just a short boat ride away, making them perfect for a day trip from St. Maarten. St. Barth’s is one of the most popular Caribbean getaways for celebrities so it could definitely be worth checking out.
St Maarten Beaches
We drove all around the Dutch side first, visiting various St Maarten beaches and getting some great photos. One of the most interesting St Maarten beaches that we visited was the Adam & Eve beach at Orient Bay. This beach is different from the others because it is a fully nude beach. We didn’t spot any supermodels as we drove by it; instead, we only saw an old man. And yes, we saw all of him unfortunately. Haha! After trying to cleanse my brain of this sight, we stopped at another nearby clothed beach and got to relax for a few minutes.
Next, our driver took us over to the French side of the island. We stopped in Marigot, the capital of St. Martin, and got to walk around for about 45 minutes. Kela and I strolled along the beach, shopped in the outdoor markets, and even drank some delicious pineapple juice. This juice was freshly made at a small place called The Coconut Man and was sooooo great. I am nearly salivating just thinking about it now…
If you are lucky enough to be in St. Martin, be sure to try a pineapple juice and think of me as you’re sipping it.
Marigot was a beautiful little area, but items were more expensive here than on the Dutch side. If you are planning to buy souvenirs, just buy them near the cruise port to get the best deals.
I truly loved my time in the beautiful St. Maarten / St. Martin and I was impressed more than I thought I would be. If you’re looking for things to do in St Maarten, try some of the above! Even though our wheelchair accessible tour was rather costly, I thought that it was worth every penny and I am very happy that we did it. When you’re in paradise, I guess that you have to be willing to pay the price.
Get the Fodor’s guide to St. Maarten here for more information.
Interested in knowing more about cruising as a wheelchair user? Check out 5 Reasons Cruising Is The Best Way To Travel In a Wheelchair.
*This post contains affiliate links. When you click on a link, I may receive a small compensation, which will help this blog grow into a better resource for disabled travelers. All opinions are authentic and my own.
Great post Cody! I’m really enjoying your content so far :).
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That’s too bad that you had to pay so much more for an accessible tour, but glad you at least enjoyed it and found it worth it! I was only in Saint Martin for a brief amount of time, but it was on the French side and I can see how it would be more expensive given the prices in Euros!
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