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Philipsburg St Maarten
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Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch Sint Maarten island and located on the southern Caribbean side of this two nation island. The town occupies a narrow strip of land between Great Bay and Great Salt Pond lagoon. Philipsburg is the main cruise ship dock on the island and the entry point for most visitors to both St Maarten and it's neighbour St Martin.

Philipsburg Beach

The town is actually very attractive; if you think most Caribbean towns are a 'bit of a dump', then think again! Two narrow roads sweep around Great Bay; Front Street and Back Street. Front Street in particular is attractive and lined with duty free shops, mostly selling jewellery. Front Street opens out down many alleys on to the long white sandy beach and has a boardwalk running more than half it's length linking up with Bobby's Marina at the eastern end of town. To the west end there are still some examples of original Creole houses which have not been redeveloped.

Philipsburg St Maarten

Courthouse Philipsburg St Maarten

Front Street is filled with duty free jewellery stores

The Courthouse in Philipsburg

 

The town, which has a population of only 1,400, was founded in 1763 by John Philips who was a Scotsman and a captain in the Dutch Navy. The best known landmark is the Courthouse which was built in 1793; however it was not always the island's Courthouse and has varied uses over the years. It was built as the home of John Philips and has been a post office, jail and fire station in the past.
Visitors by cruise ship can take a water taxi from the cruise terminal (around $6 return) to the town pier in the centre of Philipsburg. Directly behind the pier is Wathey Square which leads to the Courthouse and the Front Street shopping area. Although the official currency is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder, US dollars are widely accepted in all stores.
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Wathey Square

Great Bay Beach

 

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The St Maarten authorities have invested heavily in Philipsburg in recent years with a new cruise terminal, a lot of landscaping work around the town and the removal of cars from the Front Street area. The result is a very pleasant Caribbean town to visit and it's quite impossible to get lost in Philipsburg.

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