Despite being the largest city on St. Maarten, tiny Philipsburg only has approximately 1,300 residents. That fact alone should make it abundantly clear that this town is, by no means, hustling and bustling. However, that’s where its charm lies – it is a place where you can genuinely escape from the hectic nature of daily life. Originally home to a tribe of Arawak Indians, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and later colonized by the Dutch in 1763, Philipsburg is a truly one-of-a-kind port of call and has a little bit of something for everybody.

Sightseeing & Things To Do

If you’re itching for a tropical retreat without all of the loud revelry and party-like atmosphere, then Philipsburg is right for you. This place might be rather quiet in the scheme of things, but it has absolutely everything you could possibly ask for when it comes to a Caribbean island. From mouth watering local cuisine to world class snorkeling – and horseback rides along the beach – Philipsburg offers adventure, romance and a host of other fantastic opportunities.

As tiny as it is, Philipsburg’s attractions tend to be more on the low key end of the entertainment spectrum. Most cruise passengers are looking for precisely that, though, making this a truly excellent place. Consider these options:

Spend The Day On The Beach

Happily, there is a very nice and suitable beach right in Philipsburg, meaning that you can jump off the boat and be lounging on a genuine Caribbean beach in no time flat. The beach may be small, but you can rent lounge chairs and enjoy excellent dining options at the many nice restaurants that are conveniently situated nearby.

Walk Around Downtown

Philipsburg’s downtown is very pedestrian-friendly, and there are many great places to window shop or simply stroll along. It’s easy to while away quite a bit of time simply roaming the impeccable streets of Philipsburg.

Go Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is a tremendously popular activity on St. Maarten, and there are plenty of places where you can take part. Riding a horse down a lovely Caribbean beach just isn’t something that you get to do everyday, after all, so taking advantage of the situation while you can is key!

Proselyte Reef

If you’re in the mood for some stellar scuba diving, then Proselyte Reef is the place to be in Philipsburg. It is named after the HMS Proselyte, a British frigate that sank here back in the year 1801. History and adventure blend together in a very intriguing way here, then, and you can see it all up close and personal in this blissful Caribbean wonderland.


Luckily, the town of Philipsburg is well suited for tourists who want to spend a bit of their cash. By hitting Old Street and Front Street, you can take your pick from a bounty of nice little shops, boutiques, stands and stores. There’s no way that you’re going to go home empty handed if you walk around this clean, nicely organized town with bargains on the brain. Keep in mind that many shop owners are willing to negotiate on prices, too.

Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship

The best souvenirs are those that you can’t buy back at home, so picking up a bottle or two of guavaberry liqueur, while in Philipsburg is a great idea. This unique and locally popular liqueur will serve as a lovely reminder of your time on St. Maarten.

Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine

The food in Philipsburg – and all over St. Maartens – is delightfully light and delicious. Cod fritters – known locally as accras – are a popular local favorite and can be found at many eateries around Philipsburg. Blaff is another very tempting dish that you’ll run across around town; it consists of seafood or fish served in a spicy, zesty broth then marinated in tangy lime. Finally, dessert time gives you another opportunity to sample the local fare; try Creole boudin, or black and white pudding, to take your taste buds on a delightful adventure.

When, Where, and How

When To Go

Like many islands in the region, St. Maarten enjoys a remarkably consistent temperature year-round. Indeed, the winter and the summer only tend to vary by a couple of degrees. Some people prefer to come between December and May, though, as this is when the humidity is down and the rain is less frequent. In all, though, it’s generally very nice in Philipsburg all year long.

Where You’re Docked

For the most part, cruise passengers don’t have to fret about tendering when they come to Philipsburg. That’s because a sparkling new, state of the art cruise terminal is now in full operation. The A.C. Wathey Pier & Port Facility is where the vast majority of cruise ships dock; however, a tiny percentage still tender to Little Pier in the center of Philipsburg.

Which Cruise Ships Go Here?

Many of the most popular cruise lines have itineraries that feature stops at Philipsburg. A few examples of the major cruise lines that stop in Philipsburg are Fred Olsen Cruises, Royal Caribbean, P & O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises. However, there are many other choices in terms of dates, ships, days in port and at sea when it comes to Philipsburg.