Philipsburg Travel Blog› entry 9 of 14 › view all entries
Carnival Glory slipped quietly into Sint Maarten. Before I realized it, we were docked. As I looked across Great Bay, the water was the deepest azure blue I've ever seen! Beautiful place!
We booked a tour to begin at 12:30 so had the entire morning to explore on our own. A taxi from the Wathey port complex to Philipsburg was US$5 round trip. The taxi companies give you a plastic wrist band, so you'll be identified for the return. (A taxi to Marigot on the French side of the island was US$15. We'd go there later in the day.)
The taxi dropped us off right in the center of Philipsburg. What a charming town! A little of Europe, spiced with the Caribbean.
Great Bay Beach runs along the front of Philipsburg. What a beautiful beach this is, and not crowded at all! We walked along the beach for a ways and considered how ideal this is for both shopping and beach activities.
At 12:30 p.m. we were back off the ship and met our tour that would take us around the island and to the French territory. The tour began with a drive along the back side of Philipsburg. This was more down to business, with casinos, housing, stores for the locals and government offices. Burger King, KFC, and Subway lurk here, too. There are several roundabouts on the back street, each with a statue in the center. I'd like to have found out more about what the statues represent. The bus wended its way to the opposite side of Great Bay, affording view back towards Point Blanche and the port and Carnival Glory.
A bit inland, Koolbai village is home to the regional hospital. There is also a mosque and Islamic Centre here. That was interesting I thought. With the island's Dutch connection, I wondered if the congregants were Dutch Moslems or possibly Indonesian.
The road continued on to Simpson Bay. The international airport is located here, built, we were told, by the United States during World War II. That may explain why electricity on the Dutch side is 110v and on the French side is 220v. Then, it was time to cross the border.