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Taxi Vans on St Maarten


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I appreciated @Chalker's recent informative and enthusiastic review of Bernard's Tours for a private group tour of St Maarten, but wanted to check with others on the availability of taxi vans after you walk off the ship in St Maarten.  We have a family group of 8 and want to focus our tour on the Grand Case and Le Galion beaches on the French side, including lunch on the French side, and finishing with with short stops at Maho Beach and Phillipsburg on our way back to the ship.  If we go with a tour company, we would probably need to reserve ahead.  At the same time, based on my one previous visit, St Maarten looked well-served with taxis--I just don't recall the prevalence of larger van taxis.  We would need something a notch bigger than a normal-sized family van with 7-person capacity.  

Would appreciate any comments from the terrific RC Blogger community on group transportation for touring this awesome island!

Thanks!   

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If you are considering a guided island tour like that, book it ahead of time.

You can walk off the ship and get a taxi for eight for sure, but a guided tour on a walk-off would not likely be available. If there is, they might have a couple of seats left and they are not necessarily going to go where you specifically want.

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Thanks, @Gears.  What we would be looking for is not really a guided tour, so much as transportation to specific places we want to be sure to see during this visit.  Because we would want to stay an hour or 90 minutes at the prime spots (Grand Case and Le Galion Beaches), we probably would want to hire the same taxi van for the day so we wouldn't possibly get stuck at one of the beaches for too long before would would be able to move to the next spot.

Game Plan:

1) Grand Case Beach

2) Lunch in Grand Case/Marigot

3) Le Galion Beach 

4) Maho Beach to see a plane come in

5) Phillipsburg stop before heading back to the ship.  Could take water taxi from here instead, I think.   

Sounds like there would be taxi vans available to hire for the day without necessarily reserving in advance.

 

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Reading your descriptions and expectations above, Bernard's would probably be your best bet. The Taxi queue at St. Maarten is frustrating and at times very confusing. They don't really care what you want, it's what fits their needs the best.

We were just trying to get a taxi from the port to Maho beach, not to see the beach but to meet a family friend that is going to Medical school in St. Maarten, I wanted a private taxi and instead got thrown in a taxi with 12 other people. It was not a fun ride.

This may sound strange to some, but the taxi queue at Cozumel is 100% more organized than St. Maarten.

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Just now, tiny260 said:

Reading your descriptions and expectations above, Bernard's would probably be your best bet. The Taxi queue at St. Maarten is frustrating and at times very confusing. They don't really care what you want, it's what fits their needs the best.

We were just trying to get a taxi from the port to Maho beach, not to see the beach but to meet a family friend that is going to Medical school in St. Maarten, I wanted a private taxi and instead got thrown in a taxi with 12 other people. It was not a fun ride.

This may sound strange to some, but the taxi queue at Cozumel is 100% more organized than St. Maarten.

Thanks @tiny260 and @Gears for your comments!  We will reserve a taxi van for the day to avoid taxi lines at the port and the possibility of getting stuck at any of our preferred stops. We are contacting a couple taxi van/small bus services that popped up in a Trip Advisor search (Best Price and SXM Bus tours) and will also check Bernard's for our group of 8.  Will update for how they compare. 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g147346-Activities-c59-t182-St_Martin_St_Maarten.html

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@monctonguy we will be in St Maarten/Martin a week from today (😁) and should swing by Maho later in the day after we enjoy a couple beaches on the French side.  I would anticipate that you wouldn't have to wait long at Maho for a taxi back to Phillipsburg/cruise port.  But I can check out the taxi situation for you (cost/wait time...).   

For our family group of 8, we decided to hire a van from Best Price Taxi service for our family group based on quite a few positive Trip Advisor reviews. 

https://www.bestpricetaxisxm.com/

Pricing ($250/day) seems to be comparable with some other services and for Leo Brown's new van (which incidentally is reserved by another group from Harmony).  Bernards also looked good for a private itinerary for a few bucks more.  Andy Martina with Best Price got back to me quickly via email and confirmed we would be in their new white Toyota van.  Should have come pics and comments in a week or so!

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56 minutes ago, monctonguy said:

Sounds good...look forward to hearing about it once you are back...

 

Enjoy....wish I was headed down there now too!

I was kind of negative (Above comments) about the taxis on St Maarten without any explanation, here is how it went:

We walk through the port to where the taxis are, there is a guy there shuffling people to open taxis, we get to the front of that line (5-10 minuets) and tell the guy we want to go to Maho beach/Sunset Grill, he tells me I don't have a wrist band, OK, where do I get a wrist band, he point to his left, we see another line, we go to the back of that line (5-10 minutes) we get to the front, "where you want to go", Maho beach/Sunset grill, OK, how much, $16PP, the lady slaps a paper orange wrist band on myself and my wife, I have my wallet in my hand, she won't take my money, then another guy is standing behind a little podium, do I pay you, yes, I give him $40 and get my change back, OK, where do I go now, he points back to the other line where I started. Stand in line again, this time only about 5 minutes, again he is shuffling people around trying to squeeze 14 people in a 12 person van. We finely get into a van, we are not sitting together because we were the last 2 in.

30-45 minute drive to Sunset Grill (Bad Traffic), to be fair, there were 4-5 ships in port, even our friend that lives there said it was not normally this chaotic. There was not an empty spot on the beach, it was wall to wall people, standing shoulder to shoulder, no place to actually lay on the beach, this was around 10am because of the length of the drive. To be fair it would probably be nicer with a smaller ship load on the port.

So we have lunch with our friend, now we have to get back, we start asking after we walk out of the grill and everyone is pointing to the right, we walk up say we need a taxi back to the port and again there is a guy shuffling people around, we get to the front of the line (5 minutes) and he is cutting the orange wrist bands off everyone (So don't take yours off), he cuts my wife and I's band off and points to a taxi, well it is completely full, the shuffling guy has already walked off with our bands, so we just stand there, he comes back finely and looks at us, we tell him what happened and he just looks at us, other taxi drivers are screaming at him in the french creole language they use sometimes, finely a taxi pulls up and he points us to it. We get in, again 14 people in a 12 person van. It takes an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to get back to the port (Again, bad traffic), our he will drop you in downtown if you want.

So the good news is the $16PP is round trip, we were never told.

I know I have seen them, but I have never done them, it might be less chaotic if you take the boat excursion that sails around to Maho beach and is just stationed off the beach, you got to see the beach, you are on the flight path of the planes, you would just have to confirm that they have food and drinks on the excursion.

This is merely my opinion.

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Bernard's does offer beach - centric tours with prices very comparable to taxis (and include drinks and less confusion in transit!) - https://www.bernardstours.com/tours/ 

We're looking at the Orient Beach tour for our September (surprise change from Enchantment to Allure) cruise. We did one of the full island tours last time and while I know a lot of people enjoy it, I have very little desire to visit Maho beach again. 

Also note, that Bernard's does offer a private tour option. 

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