St. Maarten is the smallest Island in the world to be shared by two sovereign governments - the Dutch and French. The Dutch side, with Philipsburg as its capital occupies the southern 17 square miles of this 37-square-mile island; St. Martin, a French dependency, occupies the northern half.
The ship docks at the Captain Hodge Wharf in Philipsburg, just minutes away from the beaches where you'll find white sands and clear turquoise water.
A walkway leads from the Wharf to Front Street, where you'll find shops, restaurants, casinos and a beach. If you want to go further afield, taxis and buses leave from the wharf, and water taxis from Front Street. Public transport runs from 6am to 12am and is available to all points on the island. Fares can be paid in US Dollars.
Taxis don't have meters, but drivers must stick to official rates for travel on the island.
The following taxi fares are from the cruise ship terminal and are one-way fares for one or two people:
Mullet Bay: $16
Dawn Beach: $15
Orient Beach: $18
Divi Little Bay: $8
Water taxi from cruise ship terminal to the town pier: $5 per person for unlimited transport all day.
Land taxi from cruise ship terminal to the courthouse: $3 per person each way.
An alternative is to rent a car. Many companies rent cars on the island, and most require either a credit card imprint or a cash deposit ranging from $350 to $1,500, plus an additional collision damage waiver. It's cheaper to book car rental in advance as rates are cheaper than waiting until you arrive. All foreign driver's licenses are valid for driving on the island. Motorists drive on the right-hand side of the street.
There is a Tourist Information Booth at the Wharf where you can get maps of the island and learn about places of interest.
The island enjoys Duty Free and Tax Free Status, with especially low prices for liquor and cigarettes. Electronics and jewelry require some bargaining capabilities for truly lower prices.