St Maarten is undoubtedly a popular port of call for Caribbean cruise ships and it would be very remiss of me not to pass on my experiences of this idyllic island.
St Maarten is quite unique in the sense that it is divided into two separate European style communities: Dutch and French.
The visitor therefore has the opportunity to enjoy three distinct cultures on one 37 square mile Caribbean island. Cruise ships dock at a modern terminal approximately 2 miles from the main township and island capital, Philipsburg…
At the end of the jetty there is a reasonably large terminal complex with cafes, shops, duty frees, telephones and an Information centre. This is also the point to grab a water taxi to the town of Philipsburg – avoiding the short two mile walk, or pick a taxi to take you further afield.
In order to maximise the information on St. Maarten I have combined details from two visits that were made in recent years. One on P&O’s Azura and the other on Queen Mary 2.
On the first occasion we chose to visit the famous Orient Beach and took a direct taxi from the terminal building. Orient Beach lies in the French sector of the island and reaching it offers an interesting thirty minute taxi ride across the island and a crossing of the ‘Border Point’…
Perhaps a timely word of warning at this juncture. Orient Beach is a 2 mile long white powdered sand beach, well protected from the Atlantic waves by a reef.
The major attraction of Orient Bay is the nude beach and the world´s famous Club Orient (“Club O”) – the island´s only naturist resort at the southern end of the beach. Clothing is optional in front of the Club, though the nude beach there is open to the public
On reaching Orient Beach we took the advice of our taxi driver and chose to utilize the services of the KonTiki Beach Bar on the northern edge of Orient Beach…
A wise choice.
The beach is divided into sections by the locals and each section has the usual bar, restaurant, sunbeds and parasols. The Kon Tiki Restaurant and Bar and beach area was less concentrated with sunbeds and offered a somewhat higher quality appearance of service and facilities. There is of course a ‘rental’ charge for using the beach facilities at all the bars and generally the higher amount you pay, the better the quality of your stay.As the price varies so does the concentration of sunbeds on the patch of sand. ..
There are numerous budget level bars to be found and most offer a complimentary drink when hiring a sunbed. Most places have perfectly respectable toilet and shower facilities.
All in all we had an excellent time at Orient Beach. The swimming was good, facilities very good and the food and beverage good. Highly recommended and at times something of an eye opener.
We had a prior arrangement for our taxi driver to return us as far as Philipsburg. More about that in the following edition – Exploring St.Maarten – Maho Beach.