10 Best Places to Shop near the Cruise Port in St. Maarten



The island of St. Maarten/St. Martin has the distinction of being entirely duty-free, so it has evolved into a shopping mecca for travelers. Downtown Phillipsburg is lined with cobblestone streets and quaint little shops within walking  distance (or water taxi ride) from where the shops dock. Jewelry shoppers will have no problem finding a store that sells fine diamonds, gems, and watches - they are everywhere. However, when digging deeper, shoppers will find a wealth of other stores, artisan crafts, exclusive island spirits, and gourmet foods that make excellent gifts for friends and family.

The island is known for its unique guavaberries, so a bottle of this rum is a popular choice for visitors, many of whom head to bustling Front Street, the main shopping hub. Exquisite Dutch cheese can be found at Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor Store, while the Belgian Chocolate Shop offers sweet treats. For handmade local jewelry and tableware, the Art Box sells an array of colorful - and functional - products. 

Passengers can easily enjoy a day of shopping and dining in town, or squeeze in a couple stops on the way back to the vessel after a shore excursion. The team at 10Best have carefully selected their favorite shops in the area, and present this list of 10 that are conveniently located near the cruise port. 



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St. Maarten

 

Philipsburg's main thoroughfare is known for its abundance of jewelry shops scattered along the cobblestone street. You can find emeralds, diamonds, gold, platinum and more at over 20 stores. Pieces from internationally known designers such as Cartier, Gucci, Chopard and Versace, along with custom items, are readily available. Front Street also has a good selection of shops offering china and crystal. While some larger stores accept credit cards, smaller vendors may require cash. Other items include t-shirts, duty-free cigars, liquor, perfumes, and more. A beautiful beach boardwalk stretches along the street with beach chairs available to rent and plenty of places for a cold drink.


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For authentic island flavor, look no further than this shop, which sells St. Maarten's national liqueur. Crafted of cane sugar, oak-aged rum, and the elusive guavaberries that grow in the island's central hills, this signature spirit boasts an addictive flavor that visitors come to love. Not at all like the guava plant, the guavaberry rum has a woody, fruity, spicy, bitter-sweet flavour all of its own. Previously made only in individual homes, the liqueur is now produced in larger quantities for the growing market following a recent revival. Several formulations are available here, along with hot sauces, clothing and colognes.


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The Dutch (as well as the French) are well-known for their high-quality cheese, so it's no surprise that the island is home to this little store with an outstanding selection. Just a short walk from the cruise ships in downtown Phillipsburg, the Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor Store make an excellent final stop before boarding the vessel, which also sells ice cream, Dutch shoes, cheese knives, stroopwafels (think waffle wafers), licorice, and a selection of fine wines and local rum. Wheels of gouda are the popular item but the friendly staff lets visitors try numerous samples of cheese so they can pick their favorite, with wine pairings as well.


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St. Maarten


 

Del Sol is a U.S.-based chain that has expanded to 100 stores worldwide in 25 countries. Using technology that was originally designed by NASA, color-changing crystals are harvested from the sunniest places on the planet and then incorporated into nearly 10,000 color-changing retail items. Browse shirts, pants, accessories, nail polish, headbands, beach cover ups, sunglasses,sandals board shorts, and kids clothing with their favorite characters from Disney or Marvel comics. Watch as logos, images, and lettering magically change color in the sunlight. Located right on Front Street withing walking distance of the cruise port, visitors can easily browse the interesting store.


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Belgian Chocolate Shop


 

Chocolate aficionados will moan with delight after tasting the gourmet morsels at this small establishment. Crafted right in the shop by skilled confectioners, the sweet treats frequently give rise to lines of tourists, who can't wait to nibble a free sample or pick up a selection of delicacies for a post-prandial nip. Some 75 different flavors are made fresh by factory owner Beatrix right on Old Street. Truffles come in flavors like Grand Marnier, guavaberry, cognac, Caramel, whiskey-praline, honey-almond, and even champagne. The list of bon bon varieties is even more extensive, with favorites like orange pineapple and coconut passionfruit.


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St. Maarten


 

Were a ship to wreck, this treasure trove of gifts is just what you could expect to salvage. Goods are characteristically Caribbean and include guavaberry liqueur, local spices and seasonings, and crafts of all sorts. Other great discoveries include artwork, clothing, jewelry, books, an array of delightful domestic goods, and reminders of your time in the Caribbean. In business for more than 40 years, Shipwreck Shops continues to deliver excellent products. Each of the 16 shops around the island make an ideal, duty-free stop for souvenir-seekers. In case you were wondering, the shop was invented out of the ashes of a bad storm that washed the owners to the island - as the legend goes.


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Elegant gifts and accessories are made affordable at Little Switzerland, thanks to the island's exemption from import and export taxes. Jewelry, china, crystal, leather, perfume and other classy goods invite you to browse and to pick up a few trinkets for friends back home or – better yet – for yourself. This shop has several locations in Phllispburg (Front Street and Wathey Square) as well as a branch in Marigot that has a great selection and slightly different merchandise from the world-renown group that's based in the Caribbean. You can pick up brands like Tiffany & Co, Breitling, Cartier,Ippolita, and many other luxury designers.


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What began in 1995 as an incentive for customers of Toppers Restaurant and Bar developed into a popular product for locals and tourists alike. Over the years, the recipe was perfected and now the delicious rum is served in colorful glass bottles with swing tops that make excellent vases, decorative glass, table lamps, oil and vinegar bottles, and more. Handmade from local flavors like banana vanilla cinnamon, white raspberry, apple pie, coconut, mocha, and mojito, the one-liter bottles make excellent gifts and souvenirs. The popular local business continues to expand, and in January of 2013, the first bottles of Topper's award-winning Rhum made their debut on shelves in South Carolina.


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Gingerbread Galerie


 

Although high-quality arts and crafts aren't as easy to find on the island as some would hope, this terrific gallery is an exception. Specializing in Haitian art, it offers large- and small-scale pieces in a wide range of prices. The owner took in interest in Haitian art in the early 70s, and the little gallery is still around today. From impressive paintings to souvenir-style items, the gallery carries something for everyone. All schools and subjects represented from country life to voodoo. Look for it at the marina in Marigot - for passengers docking on the French side of the island. Shipping is available.


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Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber

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