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“Great Winter Getaway (with some caution)”

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Long Island, NY
Level 6 Contributor
170 reviews
78 helpful votes
“Great Winter Getaway (with some caution)”
Reviewed 1 March 2011

For those thinking of getting away from the northern hemisphere's cold and snow in winter, St. Maarten is an ideal place to go. Nearly every day is the same: sunny, 82 to 85 degrees, water temperature about 79-80 degrees, and some fine resorts to choose from. Sure, there's always the chance of an afternoon shower but they come and go very quickly and usually only affect a small area of the island at a time.

Unlike some other Caribbean destinations, St. Maarten is relatively safe so you can explore the entire island and not be confined to your resort. There are lots of restaurants in every town to fit every budget, and some great shopping in Philipsburg and Marigot. The tour books are filled with recommendations but my favorite restaurant was Chesterfields, in Philipsburg; the best filet mignon I've ever had, good service and fine views.

The island has an abundance of gorgeous scenery and beautiful beaches, most with calm water even on the Atlantic, due to sand bars and reefs taming the waves. In the week I was there, I tried a few on the south and north shores, never encountering seaweed, jellyfish, or debris of any kind.

The only warning I would give is to be very careful if you're planning on renting a car while in St. Maarten. Many of the roads are very hilly, twisting & turning, but provide grand views of the island or coastlines; unfortunately, it's kind of hard to appreciate if you're the driver. In addition, there are very few road signs and those that are there are usually small and/or hard to read. While the majority of the roads on the Island are paved, they're generally in pretty rough shape with few/rough shoulders to pull off on to if needed. In order to cut down on speeding, huge speed bumps have been scattered about (usually encountered when entering towns or by some resorts and residences) that can wreck your car's front suspension if you hit them at 40-50 mph. Worse, a few don't even have warning signs to alert you! There are no traffic lights on the island, just traffic circles and stop or yield signs, and the locals drive pretty fast and erratic. Traffic in the larger towns, during the day, can be very heavy; parking is in short supply no matter where you go.

Overall, a great location with plenty to see and do; just not the best place for driving a car. Consider checking out my review and photos of the Divi Little Bay Resort, to be posted soon.

2 Thank Travelscribe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
“My. St. Maarten Experience”
Reviewed 23 January 2011

The weather in St.Maarten is considerably more reliable in January than Mexico. Consistent 85-90 degrees and when it rains, it does for onlt a short time. We went deep sea fishing (Rudys Deep Sea Fishing) and although we only caught 1 Baracuda, Rudy made the experience fun and exciting. Check out the restaurants and casino in the Maho beach resort area. Excellent quality and affordable.

Thank MarloweT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boulder, Colorado
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
33 helpful votes
“The best place to vacation!”
Reviewed 1 January 2011

Under construction

Thank dfunza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level 6 Contributor
133 reviews
217 helpful votes
“Friendly Island”
Reviewed 1 December 2010

We fell in love with St. Maarten during our week long stay and cannot wait to return again. We rented a villa through FLIPKEY an affiliated reviewer of Tripadvisor, and it did not disappoint! The villa was just as presented. We visited many of the 37 beaches on the island and I can highly recommend for families 2 little known beaches: Friars Bay and Le Gallion on the french side, neither is crowded. There is also Simpson Bay and Phillipsburg 's Great Bay on the dutch side or Grand Case on the french side if you are fortunate to even find parking at any of these 3 beaches, these more famous beaches have calmer waters and many shops and restaurants, but rate poorly in that they are overpopulated and many cruise ship tourists seem to hit these shores. For couples there are several more isolated beaches you can visit, which are virtually child free and tourist free, but many have no facilities or restaurants so you have to pack your own lunch and do a little hiking at times. St. Maarten is known for its famous chefs and incredible cuisine. There are too many restaurants to name but a few excellent ones are: Captain Oliver's (for a romantic evening), Big Fish and Daniels by the Sea also known as Mr. Busby's all in Oyster Pond. Also I can recommend Le Gondola in Cupecoy at the Atlantis Casino. All are excellent restaurants and have a good staff. Drive around the island and you will no doubt come across the wild goats and horses that freely roam the island, as well as pigs and other animals. The drive along the coast and inland is simply beautiful and the views at times breathtaking. Get a car with good brakes and good shocks though as the roads are pretty rough. If you are into kite surfing head to Le Gallion to rent your gear only $60-80 euros for 3 hours, and it is worth it as this is a kite surfers heaven! Stop at the nearby Shell islands and enjoy the views and even take a walk over the shoals at low tide and go shelling. This island has so much to offer and we cannot wait to return to see what more we can discover!

2 Thank Cindy-Milford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
2 helpful votes
“Fun in the sun”
Reviewed 17 October 2010

We arrived on the Carnival Dream, in September 2010. There were 5 of us, my husband, myself, and our 3 children, ages 15, 12, and 10.

When we got off the ship, we headed straight toward the beach, via a water taxi. We rented a couple of lounge chairs and umbrellas and spent a few hours at the beach, which was a lot of fun. I didn't care so much for the almost constant interruption of people trying to sell us something, but I suppose that is just part of the experience. They did move along pretty quickly once we told them no thanks.

Once we were done at the beach, we headed to the shops. The kids wanted everything under the sun of course, so they were told no A LOT. lol. We did get a little something for everyone as well as a few chocolates from a wonderful little store called The Belgian Chocolate Box. They were a little pricey but quite delicious. All of the people in each shop we went in seemed very friendly as well.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to St. Martin and will definitely go back.

2 Thank GaCruisers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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