Port and Shore Excursions
Even tho' we've been here before we decided to take the Eco Tour shore excursion from the ship. We were picked up at the ship & during the 45 minute drive to our destination our driver narrated the history, sites, etc. We were taken on a motor boat to the mangroves where we got into kayaks. The guide shared a lot of info on the area, plants, wildlife, sea life, etc. After kayaking for about 45-60 minutes we were taken by motorboat (15 minutes) to Bird Island where we walked up the hill & viewed many birds & the islands. From there we went a short distance to snorkel for 30 minutes, then back on the motorboat. We were served punch, rum punch, & banana bread before going back to the ship. Enjoyable & still lots of time if you want to shop back in town
This is an easy island to get around. The public bus will take you to the beaches for $1.30 each way (exact change). Or just wander around & look at the iguanas, street vendors, etc. Beautiful white sand beaches, but there are also snorkeling areas.
We've been here before, but had never had so much fun. I would highly recommend taking a sailboat snorkel tour with Shasa Catamaran Cruises. The catamaran only seats 12 & there were only 4 of us. It's very peaceful because Jason sails the catamaran, no motor. The van picked us up at the ship & drove us past the nice hotels to a beach where we met Jason with his catamaran. We sailed up the coast for about 45 minutes, Jason pointing out various landmarks along the way. He anchored & we were given snorkel gear, life vests, etc. Once we got in the water we were swimming with LOTS of huge turtles. Be sure to take your underwater camera (you can get a disposable at Wal Mart for $7 & they work great). The reason there were so many turtles is they were being fed, but it was still fun. Just when we were getting back on board to go a short distance to a reef, one of the larger (30-40 people) snorkel excursions showed up. It was sure nice to have the turtles to ourselves! Next we snorkeled over the reef with Jason leading the way. Once back on board there was unlimited beer, sodas, rum punch, water, etc. We took the 3 hour tour. My daughter has taken the 5 hour lunch tour several times, including taking her 3 children & said it was fabulous.
Booked a snorkel tour to Klein Bonaire with Woodwind Snorkel. About a 20 minute walk from the ship to board the trimaran. 20 people on a trimaran. Dee & the entire crew are very safety conscious, make sure your equipment fits correctly, questions your experience level. They break into 3 groups and take you out. The guides dive down & point things out, then surface & tell you what you were seeing. Very professional. The wind was blowing about 35 MPH the day we were there & I was surprised it wasn't cancelled, but it was OK. I think the water may have been clearer if it weren't so rough. Unlimited cocktails included.
Shopping at outdoor market near the ship had some different items & they were reasonably priced.
Took a 2.5 hour tour with Irie...bright green colored "Samba" bus on the way to the pontoon bridge. The guides were 2 young men, very proud & knowledgeable. Gave us the history as we drove along, stopped at the Curacao distillery, then on to Mombo Beach for swimming. Back along a different route. $15 per person, unlimited ice cold sodas, water, beers, etc. Returned with plenty of time to take the ferry over (since the bridge was opened)to the floating market & other shops. Also walked down to the large ship docking spot & wander through the more expensive shops & street vendors.
We went to the local market, bought some spices & a couple of spice necklaces. Our stateroom smelled wonderful, although a bit strong the first day! Walked up to Fort George, talked wit a lot of locals. Wish I would have taken a tour. Keep walking & the price gets cheaper. You can get a 2 hour tour in an air conditioned van for about $10 per person.
Been here before & had taken an island tour. It's a beautiful island, & I would recommend a tour. Because I get motion sickness I chose to just stay in town. Drank a local (Piton) beer, walked to the other side where 2 other cruise ships were docked. Looked at the wares the vendors werew selling on the street. Did not go into any shops.
We've been to St. Maarten several times before. There were 4 or 5 other ships in port, so we just walked into town (took about 10 minutes), wandered through the shops, drank a local beer & watched the other tourists. Continue to the far end of the beach & maybe the vendors won't bother you!