Marigot, Saint Martin Cruise Port

For skies and water as blue as sapphires paired with European style, the Caribbean island cruise port of Marigot, Saint Martin (or St. Maarten) is absolute perfection. The main town and capital of the French side of the island, there are fewer than 6,000 residents but endless things to do. While larger ships tend to gravitate toward the Dutch part of the island, it leaves Marigot the best place for boutique shoppers, especially those seeking couture and upscale imports from France. That the island is duty-free certainly doesn't hurt! Also absent are the casinos and timeshares on the Dutch side; instead, French charm is evident within the town’s gingerbread homes. With some of the loveliest beaches in the Caribbean, it's a haven for swimmers, snorkelers, and anyone who wants to spend their vacation lounging in the sunshine. Here are a handful of favorite experiences when cruising to Marigot, St. Martin:
 
  • More than shopping and beaches, there's the historic Fort St. Louis. Built in 1767 as protection against pirates, it's largely in ruins but still interesting to explore; the hike to the top is worth it for the view alone.
     
  • For a more vigorous climb, try Pic Paradis or Paradise Peak (although you can also drive). From the top of the 1,400 peak, you can use one of the two observation decks to see the landscape below, including a lush tropical forest.
     
  • For shopping that doesn't involve high fashion, don't miss the Marigot Waterfront Market. Here you'll find a craft market, souvenir stalls, and Caribbean food market where you can get local spices, fruit, and other produce. For an extra treat, watch the fishermen scale their catches with beer bottle cap-lined broomsticks.
     
  • Of course, there are beaches. One of the quiet options can be found at Baie Nettlé or Nettle Bay, not far from Marigot. With soft sand and usually calm waters, it's also a good spot for water sports.
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