Various: Shopping on the Dutch side
Both times I've been to St. Maarten, we've docked on the Dutch side. The shopping area is within walking distance of the port area, there you will find the usual assortment of jewelry stores, souvenir shops and bars. The cruise ship will happily give you a guide to the shopping opportunities here, me, I'm not much of a shopper so the only thing we were looking for was a bottle of guavaberry rum since St. Maarten is the only place you can buy it. The prices seem to increase the closer you are to the cruise ship, outside the cruise ship a bottle was $24.95, in town at the far end we found it for $16.99.
Alamo: In the Car Rental Office
I had rented a car from Alamo, but they didn't have an office in the dock area. They had a kiosk in the airport and an office with the cars at a remote location. When we returned the car we saw that there was a little shop in the office.
What to buy: I took photos because I thought it was interesting, but we didn't buy anything there. Somehow the Originial Asian Vietnamies Pipes did not appeal to me.
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
Caribbean Gems: Best Price, Value and Service in the Caribbean
We have dealt with the Bhudrani family since 1985. I have sent anyone who will listen to shop there. Those who went have always thanked me profusely. The store backs all its sales. Once I got an opal that cracked, and it was replaced free of charge. Repairs are done in NYC. The store has the best prices. We are frequent cruisers, and have seen countless people disappointed because they priced a piece in St. Maarten and held out because they thought St. Thomas would be cheaper. One last thing for cruisers to consider. The stores that the ship recommends, pay large amounts to the ship line. Whom do you think ultimately pays for it? At least comparison shop at Caribbean Gems, they have been in business since 1983 and were named Jewelry store of the year 2011
What to buy: Precious and semi precious jewelry. Gold pieces, watches and more
What to pay: The least possible.
- Budget Travel
Hard Rock Store: Souvenir Tees
When we travel I enjoy purchasing souvenir tees. On this particular trip to St. Maarten I wanted a Hard Rock shirt. The store has a large variety and I found a colorful tee that I liked. $30 later and it was wrapped up in a bag ready to go.
Duty Free Liquor: Caribbean Trends
Caribbean Trends is a duty free shop that carries a nice variety of liquor. We were searching in particular for the best priced Johnny Walker Blue for my brother-in-law. This shop had a nice Johnny Walker in a case along with two crystal glasses for $160; which was the best price we found on the island. The price was right and to boot it came in it's own rollaboard case so it was easy to transport back to the ship.
Little Switzerland: Jewelry, Watches, Porcelain and more....
Little Switzerland is a chain of stores that has locations throughout the Caribean, Key West and Alaska. The store caries a large assortment of jewelry, watches, crystal, porcelain and giftware. They carry a large selection of Lladro pieces which are favorites of my wife. They also have a nice selction of Breitling watches; which always makes me happy to see.
We have shopped at various locations of the store throughout the Caribbean and are always happy with the mechandise as well as the excellent customer service.
What to buy: Our last trip to St. Maarten brought us to this store to purchase a watch I had seen the previous day in St. Thomas. I was happy to see they had the same watch and at exactly the same price. Needless to say it was probably the easiest sale that Singh had had in the day.
After getting harassed at the beach all morning we decided to pack it in and hit the shops. Sint Maarten has a nice little duty-free shopping areas.
I bought some cute little "island" framed prints and magnets. And, if you like Dutch goodies, you can find stroopwaffels, Droste chocolates, St. Maarten Delft-like ware, and other goodies here.
several: Front street bargains
Two things you can get for super discounts here are jewelry and electronics. It seems every other shop here sells jewelry, high quality too. Vendors are honest when asked if the product is a replica, but in the case of jewelry, it's usually the real thing.
When you go into a shop, it's very common for a sales person to tell you it's your lucky day, because not only is the item you are looking at for sale, but he is authorized to give you a discount. He will then type a figure into his calculator and show it to you. If you pause, he will usually offer to throw in something else free. Sure, they say this to everyone, but the price he shows you truly is an impressive discount and the jewelry is legit.
I have a Raymond Weil watch that I got as a gift some years ago. I know what it is worth ( A LOT) and they had the same watch for much cheaper. Not a replica, the same watch.
If you are afraid of replica's, don't be. The vendors will be very honest with you. The most common replica's we saw were for handbags. My wife really knows handbags and even the replicas are very well made.
What to buy: youre best bet is jewelry or electronics.
What to pay: Ok, it's still expensive because it's the real deal, but it is much cheaper than you can get most places, certainly cheaper than the US
Boolschand's: Diamonds Galore
This shop is one of the biggest and oldest in St. Martin. Open since 1930, the shop also enjoys a reputation for quality diamonds. We looked at a lot of diamonds in some of the smaller shops but their color quality was often poor. All of the diamonds here are guaranteed to appraise higher at home. They also have 2 service centers (NY & LA) in the US to back up their lifetime guarantee. My husband bought this necklace for me while I was at the beach soaking up the sun. I later discovered it at the bottom of my glass of champagne.
What to buy: It is definitely worth it to buy diamonds on the island. However, if you do not know what you are looking for or have not done your homework on diamond quality it is best to keep your purchase below $1000. In addititon to the necklace, my husband also bought some diamond studs for our daughter and a watch for himself. We were very pleased with all of our purchases.
What to pay: I'd estimate that prices are about 1/3 less than in the US. Plus, you do not pay taxes.
Shopper's Haven: Unique and Unusual Pieces
Shopper's Haven is a nice family owned jewelry store that we stumbled across while wandering around St. Maarten. They not only sell jewelry but make their own pieces. The store is small but has a large selction of diamonds, gold and assorted gemstone jewelry. Rick was very friendly andgreeted us upon walking through the door. We were looking for a wedding band for me and hadn't found anything I wanted as of yet. Rick pulled out some cases of rings and immediately my eyes locked onto a white gold band. The ring was beautiful and simple. The weight of the ring was good and the quality was excellent. The size was a bit small but Rick assured me he could size the ring within two hours and it would fit perfectly. We paid for my ring and went off to explore. After two hours we returned and my ring fit perfectly as promised.
We really liked th friendly service , quality merchandise and that it was family owned. We will definitely return here in the future.
What to buy: Anything you could want in jewelry from rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants.
What to pay: Affordable to expensive
Guavaberry Emporium: Guavaberry Liqueur
The Guavaberry Emporium is the place to go to sample or purchase some of the island's famous Guavaberry Liqueur. The Guavaberry is grown on St. Maarten only and is a famous local product. The Emporium stocks a variety of Guavaberry products and you can sample them all at the daily tastings.
Tiffany & Co.: Love that Blue Box
Tiffany & Co is know all over the world so it was no surprise to me to find one here in St. Maarten. Liz is a big fan of their products and I am a big fan of buying her what she likes. We decided to take a look and see if anything caught her eye since she doesn't like to have pieces that are "popular" or that everyone is seen wearing. After perusing the store there wasn't anything that poped out so we continued on to the next shop.
What to buy: Jewlry, kechains, moneyclips, crystal candlesticks and other fine gifts.
What to pay: Affordable to expensive.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Columbian Emeralds (Outlet): No Exactly Outlet Prices.....
Columbian Emerlds is yet another shop recommended by the Cruise ships. Again the prices get jacked up to comensate for the 10-15% they hand over to the crusie companies. We did check this place out to compare a ring price and found again that these "crusie approved" stores are more money and less quality. Our saleswomen was nice at first but very pushy to get the sale which is always a turn off to me.
Spend your money elsewhere.
Diamond's International: Overpriced Jewelry
If you have ever been on a cruise ship you will know that the cruise lines tell you to visit several "Cruise Approved" jewelry stores. What this basically means is that the jewelry stores pay the Cruise Lines so they recommend their store to the ship passengers....in translation it means jacked up prices to compensate for the 10-15% they give the crusie company for every purchase. We have checked out other DI locations before and were unimpressed. Liz and I decided we would take a look at this DI location and not be so judgemental..... Well as we thought the place was a mob scene of people. We asked for certain types of items and were shown the exact opposite and at a higher cost. It was a mish mosh of overpriced goods and pushy sales people pushing to get as much sold as possible.
We are people who are smart shoppers and know our prices and this place is not a god value. We have found higher quality merchandise at better prices at other stores...so avoid DI unless you want to be like the other cattle.
Shipwreck Shop: Pirate Themed Merchandise and More
As soon as I saw the Pirate display in the window I knew I had to go in. I love Pirate themed merchandise and anything to do with Pirates so I loved this store. They had the usual St. Maarten themed souvenirs as well as pirate themed goods such as tee shirts, toys, novelty items, flags, magnets, banners, cups, jewelry etc. Liz and I even found some St. MAarten themed Christmas ornaments in this shop. We found a nice bride and groom magnet that was a pefect reminder that we are getting married on an island....so we had to buy it.
What to buy: A christmas ornament with a tropical bride and groom was $12.99
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons