Discover Philipsburg

By Kerry Biddle on 22nd March, 2024

Spend a day in the capital of St. Maarten for some duty free shopping and a whole lot of sightseeing. If crowds are a problem, choose a day when no cruise ships are in port. The schedule is posted on the port St. Maarten website. Bear in mind though that some stores on front street may be closed in low season on non-cruise ship days.

Fabulous Jewelry And Luxury Goods

Because St. Maarten/St. Martin is a duty free island, prices on luxury goods tend to be better compared to prices in mainland countries. Loose diamonds, elegant jewelry sparkling with precious gems and diamonds, top watch brands, chic clothing stores, electronics and a whole lot more. Most of the top brand names can be found on Front Street, while Back Street is where the bargains are.


Keep an eye out for Alpha Jewelers, Ballerina Jewelers, Breitling Boutique, Brilliant Jewels, Joe’s Jewelry International, Kay’s Fine Jewelry, Longines Boutique, Majesty Jewelers, Shiva’s Gold & Gems, Shopper’s Haven and The Jewelry Boutique. All are on Front Street.

Vivid Street Art

There are currently 21 murals painted on what used to be bare walls in Philipsburg. These vibrant works of art have been created by various artists, and can be found on the colormesxm website. Each one is marked with the artist’s name. The route can be walked quite easily.

Fascinating Historical Buildings

Learn more about the history and culture of St. Maarten at the Heritage Museum. It’s a great place to explore. They can be found in one of the alleyways at the Head of Town (top end towards the marina) and are open from 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays and closed on weekends. Other places of interest are the Court House, with its iconic pineapple carving at the top, and the beautifully preserved Methodist Church. For Star Wars fans, That Yoda Guy Movie Museum at the Head of Town is a must-visit.

Heritage Museum


Take a leisurely stroll along the Boardwalk, which runs parallel to the beach. It can get sizzlingly hot because of the lack of shade, but a quick duck into one of the many beach and snack bars along the way will sort that out.

Walter Plantz Square

At the bottom end of Town there is the Walter Plantz Square where children run through the fountains that cool the air and colorful beach bars line the edges. It’s a great place to cool down after the walk along Front Street looking at the various murals.

Great Bay Beach

On cruise ship days, the beach can become pretty packed, so get there early to get a good spot. Most of the beach bars and restaurants have loungers and umbrellas for rent. Some offer them free with a meal. The sea tends to be calm on that side of the island.

st martin beach

Water Activities

No matter the skill level, there is a water sport to match. Try snorkelling, scuba diving, jet-skiing and sailing. Certified divers can explore nearby shipwrecks.

Culinary Delights

From lively food trucks on the Pondfill to upscale restaurants on Front Street, and from Asian eateries to Indian restaurants serving fiery curries. There are so many to choose from. If you have never tasted roti before, the best rotis can be enjoyed from one of the food trucks on the Pondfill. The spicy shrimp roti is my all-time favorite.