Caribbean Vacations Are a Shopper's Paradise: 2 Hours on St. Maarten's Front Street

by Natasha Jervis

Do you love to shop? Have you been daydreaming about Caribbean vacations? Consider a Caribbean cruise featuring St. Maarten, where you can shop to your heart's content. Don't worry about only having a limited amount of shopping time scheduled into your trip — Philipsburg, the Dutch capital of St. Maarten, is home to the famous Front Street, which offers an amazing shopping experience to anyone with two hours to spare. You can hop from one shop to the next and discover everything from duty-free items such as high-end electronics, world-famous perfumes, and exotic jewelry to tasty liqueurs, budget-friendly souvenirs, and specialty gifts. Here's how to make the most of a Front Street shopping spree during your time on the island.

Your First 30 Minutes: Souvenir Shopping

When you first arrive, take advantage of getting into some of the best souvenir shops before the crowds hit. Visitors can find a long list of St. Maarten souvenirs like budget-friendly T-shirts, mugs, and keychains. Negotiating is possible, and if you're good at it, you just might save a bundle on some top-notch items — and if you can't get the price you want at one shop, move onto another shop selling similar items, where you might have better luck.

During peak season, the narrow streets around the port area can become quite crowded. If Front Street gets too crowded for your liking, you can take a break and find a spot to eat or sip a tropical cocktail on the quieter Back Street.

Spend the Next Hour on Front Street: A Shopper's Dream

As the busiest shopper's haven on the island of St. Maarten, Front Street (aka Voorstraat) features approximately 500 duty-free shops to choose from. If you're looking for jewelry or T-shirts, this famous thoroughfare is lined with them, and you will find anything from white diamonds and tanzanite to Gucci watches.

In between duty-free shops, designer boutiques, and retail outlets, you'll find numerous historical buildings that will give you plenty of photo opportunities. There are many restaurants and bars where you can grab a snack, a cold beer, or a meal, and they stay lively into the evening hours. Front Street runs parallel to the beach area and Great Bay, so you can always take a dip and cool down after your shopping spree.

Your Last Half Hour: Try Your Hand at Lady Luck

Do you enjoy an exciting game of blackjack or roulette? If you want to have some fun at the end of your afternoon, spend it enjoying the tables and slots! Head over on foot toward the east end of Front Street and stop by the Coliseum Casino. Designed in a classic Roman style, this casino offers guests over 300 slot machines, as well as live blackjack, poker, and roulette table games. Don't miss out on the Gladiator Bar, where you can enjoy some of St. Maarten's signature tropical cocktails.

If you would rather recover from all that shopping with a relaxing dinner — and have more time to explore the island — you can wine and dine at the village of Grand Case on the French St. Martin side of the island. Only about a 20-minute taxi ride away, you'll find a variety of world-class restaurants, many of them located directly on the beach.

For many travelers on Caribbean vacations, a stop at St. Maarten is not complete without purchasing some duty-free items and authentic souvenirs that capture the spirit of this breathtaking dual-nationality island. When you visit, make sure to shop on Front Street so that you can take some island spirit home to your friends and family.

Interested in more? Learn how to experience a new kind of Caribbean cruise vacation, with Princess Cruises.

Spend a couple of hours shopping on St. Maarten's Front Street.
Spend some time shopping on St. Maarten's Front Street.