The most important tip I can give you on Sint Maarten local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Sint Maarten, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Sint Maarten
The island has some 300 restaurants with a wide variety of offerings available to both tourists and locals. The French cuisine and local fare is an exciting experience to most, but if you are apprehensive about trying new things, there are other restaurants. The island has restaurants that are American, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, vegetarian and more. If self-catering, you’ll large modern supermarkets with excellent selections of American, European and other products as well…all imported. If you are not feeling adventurous, the Dutch Side has several American fast food franchises including McDonalds(3), Burger King(3), Subway(4), Pizza Hut(2), Dominoes(2), KFC(3) and Bubble Tea(1).
In Philipsburg, you’ll find a “Macs” a block west on Front Street…at least convenient for a cold soft drink during your “hot” shopping and Bubble Tea is also in the Philipsburg area. If you want to save some cash, eat where the locals eat on the cheap, both the french and Dutch sides of the island feature many Chinese restaurants, but the Dutch Side is the hands down winner with over 40 of them. In addition to the regular far eastern fare, these inexpensive eateries feature many local dishes, and “Caribbeanized” (no,that’s not really a word, but you catch my drift) Chinese food. Want to try something really different, stop at one the roadside food trucks for some take-away, one of these trucks located in Phillipsburg serves some of the best Suriname food on the island.
Try the Chicken Sate with Bami or go light with a Soato Soup. Enjoy Lunch, swim on a beautiful Beach and watch the Airplanes land at Tortuga at Maho. Saving Money, etc. When dining: Some restaurants on the island will add 15% to your bill and it will be listed as Tax or SC (Service charge). The truth is, the island has no dining tax so the restaurant may be taking advantage of North American tourists used to paying tax. You can consider the 15% your tip, those who aren’t aware may pay another 15% to 20% when the “Tax/SC” is really a tip already going to the waiter. If you ask for water in any restaurant they will assume you mean bottled water which can be $4 to $5 USD per bottle depending on the restaurant. Surprisingly this is sometimes more expensive than beer or wine.
If you don’t want to pay the higher price make sure you specify very clearly that you want tap water. In many countries it is illegal to print the full cr card number on any receipt, on many islands it is not. Therefore, when you are signing a receipt make sure to check if your CC# is on the merchant copy and scribble it out. It’s not illegal to do so and it protects your card. When making an international phone call: Be sure to investigate pre-paid phone cards. The most expensive type of international phone call is to use a cr card. Companies like International Satellite Communications, which handle cr card calls, charge exorbitant connection fees and per-minute rates.
What to Drink in Sint Maarten
As of October 2009 the drinking age in town is 18, but in tourist areas they are not so strict about it. St. Martin’s nightlife consists of many bars, nightclubs and casinos where drinking is prevalent. Start out with a happy hour at “Bamboo Bernies” where drinking is free for a half an hour and continues until seven with the highest drink price of a dollar! Many of the clubs have ladies’ nights as well as other nightly drink specials. The Dutch side of the island has more night clubs than the French, so if you’re up for the party scene, this side is the one where you should stay.
Large wine menus are also usually available at most restaurants. Oualichi Club. The only club in Philipsburg. Easy acces on the Boardwalk. Easy private parking. Indoor and outdoor dancefloors with views of great bay and the cruiseships. Open every Friday and Saterdaynight 10PM -3AM. Privé. Trendy sky Bar and lounge, indoor with an open terrace on the top of the Mega Yacht Building and views of Simpson Bay strip and lagoon. Open 6PM – 3AM everyday. On the Simpson Bay strip at the top of the Market Garden Supermarket Bliss Night Club. At Caravanserai Beach Resort. Not far from the Princess Juliana International Airport Has restaurant, 2 bars, cabana seating around a pool and ocean views.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.