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Philipsburg's Beach, Bars, and Boardwalk: a St. Maarten attraction

If you visit the waterfront of many Caribbean capitals, you won't exactly find a stretch of amazing beach and turquoise-dappled ocean. (I'm looking at you, Kingston and Port-of-Spain!) And that's entirely natural, because these island capital cities, like many sea-front towns across the world, are working ports. Instead of sun loungers, you'll see industrial machinery and warehouses, or high-rise office buildings dedicated to commerce. So, it was a refreshing surprise to discover Philipsburg, on our trip to St. Maarten earlier this year. As you can see, it's pretty spectacular:

Philipsburg St. Maarten boardwalk

(Looking from the Boardwalk to the beach. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

Let me backtrack for a moment, and give you some context. Philipsburg is the central town of the Dutch side of this small half-French, half-Dutch isle. With its famous duty-free shops (particularly jewelry stores) it's a magnet for travelers and tourists. The day we explored here we counted three cruise ships -- although sometimes there are more. Although as our readers know, Zickie and I often hunt for "off-the-beaten" track Caribbean spots on our tropical island getaways, the Island Runaways team was game to see what Philipsburg had to offer.

Since we weren't arriving by ship, but by car, we parked in a large parking lot at the back of the town and walked four or five blocks toward the ocean. We passed the graceful courthouse and Wathey Square, soon catching a glimpse of bright blue sea through a corridor of Royal Palms.

Island Runaways

(On the way to the Boardwalk. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

Soon we were ambling down the Boardwalk with its hustle and bustle. Here folks were sitting at open-air bars and relaxing in restaurants that bordered the waterfront.

tropical island getaway

(The bustling Boardwalk. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

Music, some of it live, streamed from shaded terraces. There were some slightly upscale looking joints, and then there were some places that looked a little more laid-back, like Lizzy's with its fabulous "dine & wine" sign.

St. Maarten Lizzy's

(This colors of Lizzy's made us smile. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

But despite the obvious attractions on the other side of the Boardwalk, the real star of the show was definitely...

caribbean getaway

(The ocean was mesmerizingly blue. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

that BEACH! It was almost shocking how beautiful the sand was, and how wide and well-cared for it appeared. And the water, that water, just hypnotized us with its color. The sea here is absolutely clear and clean, and feels delicious. What a wonderful place to relax and while away a morning or afternoon, before grabbing a beer or a bite to eat just steps away.

SXM beach

(Strolling the Boardwalk. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)

Eventually, our stomachs started to rumble, so we savored a tasty lunch at chill and charming Moana restaurant (more about this in a future post)! After enjoying our explorations on Philipsburg's Boardwalk strip, it was time to say our good-byes. Despite some initial concerns about whether it might be overly crowded or too loud for our tastes, our final assessment was: what an absolutely fun -- not to mention gorgeous -- Caribbean destination!

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