Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. The main focus of the town is Front street which runs parallel to Great Bay. The town center is based around Wathey Square where the old courthouse stands which dates back to 1793. In the past it was used as a Council hall, a weight station, a jail and up until 1992 a post office. It has recently been renovated and is now used as a courthouse. The new post office is now located on the Pond Fill road on the opposite side of the town. At the other end of the small square is the Captain Hodges Wharf where cruise ship tenders unload passengers. Although a large new cruise ship wharf has been built at Point Blanche on the eastern side of Great Bay.
Front street is lined with jewelry shops, camera and electronic stores, liquor and tobacco stores, boutiques, restaurants, casinos and duty free stores. When the cruise ships dock the town becomes busy and congested with cars, taxis, locals and day-trippers.
An arcade that runs from Front street to Back street.
Back street runs parallel to Front street and has many low cost shops and budget Chinese restaurants.
If shopping isn't your style head over to the beach and find yourself a beach chair or a table at one of the many restaurants and bars that line the beach of Great Bay.
There is also the St Maarten Museum on Frontstreet which is a restored 19th century house, exhibiting the history and culture of the island, including exhibits from Amerindian times and local shipwrecks. Open from 1pm-4pm Mon. to Sat. closed Sun.
The beach on Great Bay, Philipsburg.
Cruise ships at the Point Blanche facilities
Also at the eastern end of town is the Great Bay Marina and Bobby's Marina. Boats going to St Barts and Saba leave from this area.
If you walk inland you'll reach the Great Salt Pond (and the new post office). Here the locals once toiled under the hot sun making a living from collecting salt. That all finished about 50 years ago. The pond is now slowly being filled in, making way for further expansion of Philipsburg. It's about a five block walk to get to the salt pond and PO, but along the way you'll find interesting shops, dining opportunities, gingerbread houses, bougainvillea, hibiscus in amongst modern concrete buildings.