How To Find A Quiet Beach Day In St. Martin When There Are Five Ships In Port

Your long-awaited cruise is taking you to beautiful St. Maarten/St. Martin. You go online to and discover there will be five cruise ships in port the day you will be there. How will you ever find a quiet, peaceful beach day with five ships in port?

Don’t panic. Your off-the-tourist-track beach day is a taxi and “ferry” ride away. I highly recommend you make arrangements to spend the day on Pinel Island (Ilet Pinel). This beautiful, secluded, and blissfully quiet little island sits north and east of popular Orient Beach on Orient Bay. It has a gorgeous sandy beach. No sand shoes are needed here. Feel the sand squish between your toes. It’s also an easy walk in and out of the surf, with no steep grades. The water is relatively shallow for some distance from shore so it is convenient for children. And yet, there is snorkeling available in somewhat deeper water for the adventurous. Beach lounge chairs and umbrellas line the beach. You can relax out of the sun. An interesting gift shop showcases colorful pareos when you feel like browsing.

But wait! There’s more. Three restaurants and bars sit literally steps behind you. The smell of grilled ribs and chicken is irresistible. Our lunch was included in a package so I can’t say how expensive it was, but from the taste of the ribs I’d have to say whatever the price, it’s worth it. You can also pick your own fresh lobster from the cages in the surf. They are definitely fresh because we saw several “wild” lobsters while we were snorkeling.

Of course, there are always cautions whenever you travel. First, I have not yet seen a ship sponsored tour to Pinel Island. You will have to hire a taxi, find an independent tour operator, or get a boat ride over from Orient Beach. However you get there, you must demand that you be returned to your ship well ahead of the “all aboard” call. This issue became a point of contention on our trip because the tour operator also picked up people from a hotel. Those people did not want to leave early enough for us to make it to our ship. Again, you must make your demand.

Second, the “ferry” to Pinel Island from Cul de Sac is not a ferry at all. It is a large wooden boat with wooden benches and  an outboard motor. It is not a long trip to the island, maybe five minutes, but it was a full boat when we went over. It wasn’t comfortable, but it got us there. The ferry charge was included in our package deal, but I think it cost $6 per person otherwise.

With those cautions in mind, there is a lot more to do on Pinel Island than what we managed to accomplish in one day. There is a hiking path around the island. There are more secluded snorkel  and swimming spots. The main beach is not clothing optional, but the other ones down the hiking path are au natural at your whim. I also hear there is shallow water diving available here. The snorkeling, as mentioned, is easily accessible.

Forget the madding crowds. Pinel Island affords the perfect beach day: swim, snorkel, drink, eat, and sleep. It was a wonderful Caribbean beach day even though there were five cruise ships in port, and one of them was ours.

FYI: The tour operator we used was . The tour was called the Tiki Hut Tour and Snorkeling Experience. I am not affiliated with this tour operator. This information is provided solely for educational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


About susanmcdanielcruisenews

Travel consultant and author. Travel consultant specializing in Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, and other tropical destinations, as well as exotic locales, such as Galapagos and Machu Picchu. Also provides customized accessible leisure travel for people with special needs. Loves to introduce people to cruising and arrange family travel. Author of the weight loss book, "Win When You Lose: A Guide to Successful Dieting." Former weight loss counselor/motivational speaker.

Posted on April 25, 2012, in Caribbean, cruise, St. Maarten, St. Martin, travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We were one of those on the crowded beach of Orient Bay. OMG, yes, there is a part of it that was total nudity. We have been on beach’s with topless but bottomless was a wee bit too much for me. On the other hand, hubby enjoyed all the sites. I saw one man standing in a corner like he was an dirty old man, and I ran for my life, away from that part of the beach. The only thing about not doing a ship’s tour is exactly what you said about demanding. Sometimes for me that doesn’t work and creates more problems for me. I think I will just play it safe and pass on the extra worry.
    Wonderful reviews of some beautiful ports. We went to the Carrib. Indian tribe village and watch their everyday life, that was in Dominca. In St. Lucia it was the drive through volcano and lighthouse. St. Thomas it was Pardise Point and it was indeed breathtaking.

    • Thank you for the comment, Madeline. I’m so glad you enjoyed the articles and can use the information. Next time you should try Pinel. It sounds like it will be more to your liking! I’d love to hear about your adventures when you get the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Double Black Diamond Travel

A professional travel site

Exploration Abroad

Traveling and learning abroad with Joshua S

5 Things To Do Today

Lifestyle magazine covering hotels, restaurants, travel, food, arts and entertainment

Lovely Shoots

Lovely photographs of the world

Meg Travels

mostly sunny adventures

The Open Suitcase

Vacation is a State of Mind

The Local Traveler NS

Two travelers' tales and reviews from around Nova Scotia

The LGBTQ Travel Expert. Educator. Speaker. Author.

Proven expertise in the LGBTQ segment + LGBTQ Pavilion at the New York Travel & Adventure Show 2022

Jan's Travel Journal

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going


Create The Life You Want Now!


reflections on world travel & expat life in australia

Pictures and Plane Tickets

A Bucket List Inspired Travel Site News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: