I am the family cruise editor here. I was wondering if any of you have suggestions on what is good to do with kids in St. Maarten. We've been there a few times but have only gone to the beach independently and haven't gone on any shore excursions. I'd appreciate any input you have -- what worked and what didn't. Please respond by December 28 so that I can include your ideas in an article I'm writing for the family section on what to do with kids in Eastern Caribbean/Bahamas ports .
As always, thanks for your interest in CruiseMates.com's family message board!
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
We did something different last trip to St. Maarten earlier this year. We booked the Rhino boats trough the cruiseline, Royal CAribbean and it was tons of fun. We got to see a different area than you'd usually see, went through a harbor that many store their boats (yachts), it was an eye opener. You do get to drive the boats quite a distance before you have a rest, then come on back. Once there you can do nothing, or swim, snorkel, relax on a private beach, have a snack. I'd do it again!
Not exactly an answer to your question but I just got back from St. Martin and if anyone finds themselves in Grand Case (on the French side) around lunch time and is looking for a VERY kid friendly place to eat - go to the Calmos Cafe (literally right on the beach - most of the tables are right in the sand). Not only does this place have really good food (I had their swordfish and shrimp skewers - totally delicious) but they really cater to families (beach toys for the kids and kid sized chairs, very friendly service). When we were there there were at least 4 families with kids and the kids were having a great time meeting each other and playing with the toys (one little guy was actually quite put-off when it was time to leave).
We are doing the Golden Eagle Catamaran tour on our upcoming cruise, not in time for your article, sorry. Have heard great things about this trip. Note: make families aware that although Orient Beach is a hot, happening place , it is also clothing optional.
Thanks for your input so far.
Donna: I was reading about the Rhino boats and I'm glad to get first hand info that they're family friendly and fun.
Lisa: I will definitely mention that Orient is clothing optional. When we went there my daughter was a toddler so it didn't phase her. Now that she's a pre-teen, she would be uncomfortable there.
"Zeno": YOu mentioned you were in Grand Case -- is that the beach and town name? Any idea how far a taxi ride it is from Philipsburg?
Thanks and Smooth sailing,
Grand Case is a village on the French side (well known for its restaurants). There are 2 beaches - Grand Case Beach (some of the restaurants are beach front on this beach) and Petite Plage next to the Grand Case Beach Club Resort. Since we stayed at a resort near Grand Case I am afaid that I do not know the taxi fare from Phillipsburg. It would probably be about a 40 minute taxi ride.
I personally like the beach in St Martin and my current favorate would be Dawn Beach.
It attracts a nice mixture of locals , folks from the nearby condos and rental houses and some cruise passengers (but not by the "ton"). There is a beach bar, restaurant and they have "facilities". There is also a "tented" concession that rents chairs and umbrellas, sells food and drinks (at very fair prices) . They do barbeque ribs for lunch that are great and their rum punches are excellent. Very friendly non pushy vendors ply the beach and their prices are as good as in town. The beach is relatively calm and there is an offshore pipeline break that is beautiful. I've seen many families on this beach and find it to be a great way to spend the day ,followed by an hour or so of shopping in Philipsburg to satisfy Gram's need to donate to the local economy.
I realize it is past your due date, but when we were in St. Maarten over Christmas, we ended up doing Carnival's tour to a resort. We had a nice beach, snorkeling, shopping, lounges, showers, you could rent jet skis, parasail, etc. They offered a BBQ lunch and 2 drink coupons with the tour. We had a great time. The only thing I would caution is this: My daughter went to the bar and wanted a virgin Pina Colada (she is only 14 and certainly wasn't looking for alcohol - she just likes the taste). I happened to go with her to the bar. She ordered. The bartender had them all mixed and just added the rum on top after asking if you wanted it. He asked her if she wanted rum and would have given it to her had I not been there if she wanted it. I saw him give it to 2 other girls who looked like they couldn't have been older than 15. I don't know if there is a drinking age on the islands, but if you have teenagers, I would watch out.
I just returned from St. Maaten. Go horsebackriding on the beach and on the water. Can't remember the name of the place, but its on the dutch side. Also, there is a fabulous, even better horsebackriding place in St. Lucia.