Philipsburg is four parallel streets squeezed between Great Bay, where the cruise ships dock, and Salt Pond, where salt was made many years ago. The vision of a previous generation of island leaders was to maintain the Créole houses on the shore, providing arriving boats with a look back into the island's past. For the most part, this has been done
as the larger hotels sit at the edges of town or just around the rocky promontory that separates Great Bay from Little Bay.
The entire area has been improved greatly over the last few years. The harbor was dredged so that cruise ships could tie up at a new terminal. The sand from the dredging was used to replenish Great Bay beach and a boardwalk was built running the length of the beach. In addition, Front Street was beautified with paving stones, benches, new sidewalks, palm trees, and cast iron streetlights. Parking was eliminated, making the street a mile long shopping mall. New parking was added along Pondfill and at Bobby's Marina at the same time.
Philipsburg may be only four streets deep and one mile long, but it contains everything that anyone, and especially a tourist, needs. All St Maarten is duty-free, but Philipsburg has shop after shop each trying to outdo the others offering electronics, alcohol, jewelry, linens, perfume, and more. Feeling lucky? Find out at any of a number of casinos. You can go to SXM-Shopping for information on shopping on the island or jump to our Philipsburg map to see our featured stores in Philipsburg.
Restaurants abound. Some of the oldest and finest on the island are here and the seafaring Dutch accepted waves of immigrants, obviously there is fine French and Créole cuisine but also Chinese and Indian. The boardwalk is lined with beach bars some with hot dogs, some with high class. Take your pick. It's all here in Philipsburg.
Here's a webcam from The Villas on Great Bay showing a major portion of Great Bay off Philipsburg.