Earlier this month, my new husband and I decided to take a short celebratory getaway to Saint Maarten. I chose Saint Maarten because my husband had never been to the Caribbean before (most of his travels have been to Europe or Asia), and I wanted a Caribbean destination that I had not visited before. Saint Maarten turned out to be a lovely trip for the both of us.
I just wanted to share a few things that I found helpful, and that I would have like to have known before leaving for the trip.
The first thing we did after going through customs was to pick up a rental car from Fox Rent a Car. Cabs from the airport to Phillipsburg can cost $20 each way, and although there are buses, they tend to stop running fairly early. Our car only cost us $14.50/day, so unless you intend to stay at your hotel the whole time, i’d recommend you rent a car (keep in mind that most caribbean rental car locations require a $500 – $800 hold on your credit card — they won’t charge it unless something goes wrong). Just make sure you have some kind of reliable GPS capabilities. To minimize the cost of using my phone internationally, I just signed up for the Travel Pass that Verizon offers, which allows you to access your existing call and data plan for $10 a day.
The Waze app is pretty accurate, and still gives you turn-by-turn directions out loud, unlike Google Maps, which for some reason does not read the directions out loud…that could be annoying to have to keep looking at the map instead of keeping your eyes on those unfamiliar roads!
While the official currency of the French side is the Euro, and the currency of the dutch side is the Antillean Guilder, most restaurants we ate at accepted USD and had a 1:1 ratio, so exchanging currency was never an issue. I’m not sure why that is, as although the Euro isn’t doing as well as it has in the past, it’s still stronger than the USD . Oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Where We Stayed
For this trip, I decided to use Airbnb. I know I’m a little late to the Airbnb game, but now that I’ve used it a couple of times, I don’t know if I’ll be staying in hotels too often from now on (if you don’t currently have an account, use my code to get a $25 credit)! We stayed in this cute little apartment in Orient Bay. Our host, Annabel, was very sweet and responsive to all of our questions. I would definitely recommend her! The apartment was in a little apartment complex, about a 3 minute walk from Orient Beach, and close to plenty of restaurants and shops. Keep in mind that Orient beach is a clothing optional beach lol.
Be sure to check out the Lolos (local food, low cost) in Grand Case and Marigot. Marigot has beautiful views and also has a market nearby. I really enjoyed the food at Rosemary’s. In Grand Case, I ate at Sky’s the Limit. Either way, I think its safe to say that most of the lolos serve the same food (although some may have more in stock than others). If you’re on Orient Bay, check out Good Time Charlie’s for a drink, and Chez Leandra’s or Pedros for food.
Things To Do
Aqua Mania Tours
On our second day in Saint Maarten, we went on a day tour to Anguilla, through Aqua Mania Tours. It was a pretty big Catamaran, and had open bar :). We went snorkeling for about an hour and a half, at Prickly Pear, followed by a beach BBQ at Shoal Bay Beach. It was an awesome day trip, and we were exhausted by the time we got back!
One thing that is a must do, is Maho Bay. Its the beach right near the airport, where the planes pretty much land on the beach! Just be careful not to stand too close, or you’ll get blasted by the sand as the planes go by. I learned that the hard way lol.