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RobinL

St. Maarten plans- help, can't decide!

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Pinel island..  worth making the trip?    My family wants to relax and snorkel for part of the day.  We are open to thoughts about other places to visit during our 8 hour stop in st. maarten.  First time cruisers.  Thanks!

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Pinel is a beautiful spot. There is a lunch shack there where you can order some fresh-cooked food, and a very nice little gift shop that has actual locally-crafted things to purchase; pinwheels and other whirligigs, carvings, etc. Nothing with a "made in China" sticker! Close by the gift shop was a little shaded spot where we found a cluster of wild iguanas and hermit crabs. The water is nice and calm and the sand clean of sea grass. Not sure about the snorkeling there, it seemed like more of a place to relax and have a meal when I was there last year.

Do be aware that there is only one pair of toilets in the place, up on top of the hill towards the middle of the little island. Each has plumbing and a sink to wash up, but honestly they're closer to outhouses than real bathrooms. When I was there the water wasn't working in one of the two buildings, so there was no way to wash your hands or flush.

If I can offer a suggestion since you are already looking at Pinel Island -- take a look at Soualiga Destinations and their tour for cruise ship visitors. Pinel Island is one of the places where they stop, mainly for the lunch break, and you will get to see much of the island and have a couple snorkeling opportunities as well as beach stops. I did that last year and it was the highlight of our cruise!

Another option for St. Maarten is the Random Wind sailboat; doesn't see as much since you're sailing and not in a motorboat, but still get snorkeling and beach time. Almost booked this, but my family and I wanted to see more of the island and weren't sure Random Wind would be the right fit. They got hammered by the hurricane that devastated much of the island, but the ship has been restored / repaired and they are doing tours again.

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Hey Robin!

We did Random Wind last April. The original Random Wind was a mono hull sailboat that was destroyed by the hurricane in 2017. She was replaced by a fantastic catamaran with all the bells and whistles. We saw much of the island, under sail, anchored in a quiet cove for lunch on board, snorkeling, swimming and Tarzan Swinging (check out the photos in the following link). My grandkids (8 &12) had a blast on that swing. Also went by Maho Bay for a close up and personal view of aircraft coming in for a landing. Great crew and a lot of fun. Here's their link: https://randomwind.com/. Have a great cruise! :27_sunglasses:

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We have been to St. Maarten twice in the past year and went out with https://coconut-reef.com/ both times and had a blast. Our full day tour in December included a stop at Pinel Island which my husband and I both agreed was our favorite stop. It was absolutely beautiful and we cannot wait to return in the future. I highly recommend a day out on the water with these guys. The pick up/drop off is a short 15 minute walk from port and they get you back with plenty of time to walk back to the ship before all aboard time. Lunch is included in the full day tour and was delicious. We actually ate on the boat while anchored a short “walk” from the beach at Pinel.

 

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@RobinL, be aware that these third-party excursions tend to fill up early and need to be booked in advance. So if you do decide to go with one of them, contact the owner through their email listed on the web site and set up your booking ASAP. They're all good about only taking a refundable deposit up front, then pay the rest in cash when you arrive; or if you're solid about taking them, let them know if you want to pay in full up front and they'll accommodate that.

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Just giving my review and HUGE THANKS for the suggestion to book with Capt. Bob from https://www.soualigadestinations.com/most-popular-tour-for-cruise-ship-visitors/

For St. Maarten.. O M G we had a fantastic time!   Thank you JLMoran for referring this company to us as this suggestion did not disappoint!   From the moment I reached out to Capt Bob  I received an immediate response and answers to all my questions.   I was a little nervous booking because it wasn't with the ship but on the day we went we found many others from the ship also booked the same excursion that day as well, in fact there were at least 40 - 50 from our ship, however they had several boats that we were each assigned to.   The captain of our boat and his assistant took 17 of us out on a fast speed boat to 4 different spots for swimming/snorkeling and beach visiting and hands down Pinel Island was AMAZING!!!  Pinel is a gorgeous place and home to many iguanas who will take food right from your hands (it's pretty incredible to see). Like JLMoran mentioned Pinel as a little hut that sells reasonably priced items that are I believe made on the island and there is  also a restaurant here which i heard from one of our fellow passengers was delicious  Anyway, the whole experience this day was the best thing we did all week and we would absolutely come back and do it again.  I highly recommend this company and even on trip advisor you will see they have over 200 reviews and  are 5 star rated!!!  

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@RobinL, so glad you had a great time with Capt Bob and crew! By any chance was your particular boat's captain his son and daughter-in-law? Might still only be the son's fiancee, they'd tried to get married three times when I sailed with them and had storms or other disasters force a rescheduling each time.

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This past February on our stop in St. Maarten, we decided to rent a car for the day and drive up to the French side of the island to Orient Beach.

We did this so we could go parasailing with a third party excursion provider. It did not disappoint. It was incredibly fun.

From there we drove back toward the French/Danish border and had lunch at a local American themed establishment called "McDonald's" (:6_smile:). From what I hear, they've become quite popular.

We then drove over the mountains to visit/tour/sample Topper's Rhum. Very good! (Although, for a little bit, I didn't think the little Hyundai would make it up the hills!)

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Following, as we are planning our excursions for May 2020!  There seems to be so many great options!  One of them included kayaking across to Pinel island.   We were really interested in that, but now I am starting to think one of the boats may be better as they to to Pinel plus several other locations! So many choices!

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Lovestotravel - Im not sure where you start kayaking from to get to Pinel and perhaps you just love to kayak itself,  but we enjoyed the fast boat ride to hit other stops along the way to snorkel and the great views...and still had plenty of time on Pinel to enjoy.    There may be other options but again.. Capt. Bob's is an easy pick!     Have a great time!

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Lovestotravel - Im not sure where you start kayaking from to get to Pinel and perhaps you just love to kayak itself,  but we enjoyed the fast boat ride to hit other stops along the way to snorkel and the great views...and still had plenty of time on Pinel to enjoy.    There may be other options but again.. Capt. Bob's is an easy pick!     Have a great time!

 

@JLMoran we did meet his son but he was organizing everyone to different boats and not the one who took us out on the water.  Our captain Yuri was an experienced captain both in boating and island history, and his helper (a girl) was super friendly and assisted in every way.   

Also back to  @Lovestotravel  We were provided with everything we needed  for snorkeling though we brought some of our own gear.  The crew also provided  beer, soda/water and sandwiches, though again there is a restaurant on Pinel. 

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1 hour ago, RobinL said:

Lovestotravel - Im not sure where you start kayaking from to get to Pinel and perhaps you just love to kayak itself,  but we enjoyed the fast boat ride to hit other stops along the way to snorkel and the great views...and still had plenty of time on Pinel to enjoy.    There may be other options but again.. Capt. Bob's is an easy pick!     Have a great time!

 

@JLMoran we did meet his son but he was organizing everyone to different boats and not the one who took us out on the water.  Our captain Yuri was an experienced captain both in boating and island history, and his helper (a girl) was super friendly and assisted in every way.   

Also back to  @Lovestotravel  We were provided with everything we needed  for snorkeling though we brought some of our own gear.  The crew also provided  beer, soda/water and sandwiches, though again there is a restaurant on Pinel. 

This is all great information!  Yeah, we like to kayak, but more importantly we want to see cool sights, spend time in the water and on a beach.  It sounds like the option you recommend checks all of those boxes!!  

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