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Which St Maarten Beaches Near Cruise Port Are Really Worth Your Time?

One of the best ways to spend your time during a St Maarten cruise stop is at one of the island’s dozens of beautiful beaches that you can find on either the French side and Dutch side of the island. Cruise passengers can enjoy a swim in the waters of the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans, which surround the beautiful island of St Maarten. The gorgeous sandy beaches are where most tourists spend their day on shore, soaking up the sun, participating in water sports, and tasting the local cuisine.

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If you’re planning a beach day and you want to maximize your time in the sun, you can focus on the beaches that will take the least amount of travel time to actually reach the sand. So keep reading to learn which St Maarten beaches near cruise port are worth visiting. (Depending on your schedule, you can also find affordable tour options that combine beach time with other activities.)

Which St Maarten Beaches Near Cruise Port Should I Visit?

One of the most notable St Maarten beaches near the cruise port is Great Bay Beach. It’s 2.3km from the port, and only a 20-minute leisurely walk. Orient Bay Beach is also a top choice, 11km north of Philipsburg Port and a quick drive by car or taxi. These lovely beaches offer tourists various water sports activities and local cuisine. 

Here’s everything you want to know about these St Maarten beaches near cruise port for a relaxing day on the beach with various water sports, delicious food, and refreshing drinks.

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Great Bay Beach

The closest (3km) beach to the Philipsburg Cruise Port is Great Bay Beach, a 3.2km stretch of beautiful white sand and clear blue water. It is one of St Maarten’s longest and most expansive beaches. The beach is situated on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. It stretches along the entire length of the capital city of Philipsburg. It’s a great beach to spend a leisurely day under the island’s blue skies.

Great Bay Beach – Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

How To Get From The Cruise Port To Great Bay Beach

You can take a 5-minute water taxi ride, or it’s only 8 minutes by car. You could also take a leisurely 20-minute walk. If you choose the walking option, you will stroll along the town’s walkways and the boardwalk with its many shops, bars, and restaurants.  

What Attractions Are At Great Bay Beach?

Here are a few ideas of what you can do at Great Bay Beach:

  • Great Bay beach is a lovely beach to sit and relax while soaking up the sun or enjoying the view of the ocean. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are available to rent.
  • Take a swim in the clear blue sea. Kids can play on the sand and enjoy a splash in the calm water.
  • Sit on the pier with a great view of the cruise ships that have docked in the port. From this lovely beach, you will also see beautiful mountains against the magnificent blue sky over the sea.
  • Browse the shops for souvenirs and gorgeous beach wear.
  • There are street bars, rum shacks serving ice-cold beer, and restaurants serving delicious food. Great food and lots of cold drinks to keep you refreshed while lounging in the sun.
  • Clean restrooms are available to visitors.

If you would prefer a bit more adventure:

  • Rent a jet ski and take a ride on the water.  
  • You could visit the Rouge et Noir casino near the end of the beach strip. Take a chance at the slot machines and bingo games. The casino hours are 10am to 4am daily.

What Costs Are Involved In Visiting Great Bay Beach

Entrance to Great Bay Beach is free for all visitors. If you decide not to walk from the cruise port, you will pay a fee for your transport by water taxi or car. The water taxis do offer a special price, including a few trips to and from the port.  

Once on the beach, you will pay to rent chairs and an umbrella from a bar or shop. Some bars have great deals when renting chairs, where they will add on a bucket of cold beers. You will also need to budget for your meals and beverages.

St Maarten Beaches Near Cruise Port

Orient Bay Beach

Orient Bay Beach is just over 11km north of Philipsburg Port. It is the most famous and popular of the St Maarten beaches near the cruise port. It’s about a one-and-a-half-mile-long stretch of soft sand on the French side of St Maarten. Orient Bay boasts soft, powdery sand beside a gorgeous turquoise blue sea. It is sometimes referred to as the “Saint-Tropez of the Caribbean”. Strong trade winds blow in from the Atlantic Ocean, making this beach a haven for board sports. 

The beach has many different sections including a large clothing optional section. The beach’s western end is exclusively reserved for sun-loving nudists. If you have never visited a clothing-optional beach before, you should be sure to read up on proper nude beach etiquette in advance.

St Maarten Beaches Near Cruise Port | photo of Orient Bay Beach - line of waiting lounge chairs
Orient Bay Beach, Saint Martin

Restrooms and showers are available for visitors.

How To Get From The Cruise Port To Orient Bay Beach

Orient Bay is a quick drive by taxi or rental car, or you could ride on the bus. Other options include a 5-hour beach excursion that will take you to Orient Bay beach, and other places of interest. However, public transport by minivan is the cheapest option. 

Take a short walk into Philipsburg (about 10 minutes) to the bus terminal. The small bus will have a signboard with the beach’s name displayed on the windscreen. This is a great way to meet the locals and see where they live, as the bus will do a few stops along the way so the locals can disembark. 

You can ask the driver to pick you up again at an arranged time. Leave the beach at least 2 hours before you need to board the ship in case of any traffic delays.

What Attractions Are At Orient Bay Beach?

An abundance of adventurous water sports awaits you at Orient Bay beach. Below are just a few of the best activities:

  • Kiteboarding is a great board sport in this area, and a 2hr lesson with an instructor at your side is the way to experience this sport if you are a novice. You will be provided with all the safety equipment you will need to venture out on your own. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Hobie Cat Safari is a fantastic way to cruise on the ocean for a 2hr trip to the marine park at Tintamarre Island. Only 30 minutes ride to the island where you can relax on the beach and meet the sea turtles and, in winter, the dolphins. You will be able to do some snorkeling and, on the way back, view Orient Bay’s magnificent coastline. This is a fantastic adventure!
  • Paragliding will provide a magnificent 91m high view of the beautiful island. The boat crew will ensure a safe and smooth ride by providing you with equipment and safety instructions. And be sure to purchase a fantastic bragging photo for your memory book.
  • Jet skiing is another fun watersport you can enjoy at Orient Bay beach. Rent a jet ski complete with fuel and safety gear. You can ride alone, or rent the double-person craft for two people.

Other attractions are:

  • Enjoy swimming in the water or lazing in the sun.
  • Eat at one of many wonderful restaurants on the beach offering fantastic cuisine and refreshing drinks. The eateries are a hive of energy with an exciting atmosphere as many businesses, and VIP parties are held here.
  • Visit Orient Bay village, within walking distance of the beach. Here you can dine at French, Thai, and Italian restaurants. Or try a restaurant that serves local cuisine to taste an array of delicious dishes.

What Costs Are Involved In Visiting Orient Bay Beach

Entry into Orient Bay beach is free, and there is free parking available for vehicles as well. Transport to the beach by taxi or bus comes with a fee unless you have booked a beach excursion where transportation is included in the ticket cost. 

You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas to spend a fun-filled day on the beach. All water sports activities that require equipment are available at an hourly rate. Other costs to plan for are your food and drinks if eating at a restaurant. You could save costs and buy snacks at the cruise port stalls, and bring them with you to enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach.

While St Maarten offers many beach options, you need not limit yourself to visiting just one! If you would enjoy visiting more than one spot, you can book a beach-hopping tour that will make sure you can maximize your time in port!

Closing Thoughts

Great Bay and Orient Bay are the best St Maarten beaches near the cruise port. Both offer relaxing stretches of sandy beach and an array of restaurants and amenities to make your time in St Maarten a memorable one.

If you’re looking for the best time to visit St Maarten, you may find this guide helpful. And if you also plan to visit the nearby St Thomas, you’ll want to explore these highlights as well.

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