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St Maarten / Saint-Martin

By John Sage

St Maarten Disabled Access Review Home to two countries and wheelchair accessible restaurant, shopping and beach options, St. Maarten is an attractive destination for disabled and senior cruise passengers. 

St. Maarten disabled access is better on the coast than on the mountains in the interior.  Wheelchair ramps are present in many of the shops and multiple accessible shore excursions in St. Maarten are available.

Cruise ships arrive near Philipsburg on the south side of the island, and both the Dutch side of the island and the French side of the island can be visited in a single day.

I gave St. Maarten a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because it has fairly flat cities, some accessible restaurant & shopping options, and a step-free path from the cruise dock to Philipsburg. 

St. Maarten disabled access did not receive a higher accessibility rating because the route into town includes going over a bridge that some wheelchair users may find difficult, and the route is 0.9 miles long.


View St. Maarten accessible shore excursions


Best Aspects of St. Maarten Disabled Access

Flat main cities – The island is home to two main towns, Philipsburg and Marigot, and St. Maarten disabled access is good in both of them.  Both towns are flat so there are fewer wheelchair access challenges than ports in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Nassau.

Philipsburg Marigot


Accessible port exit – Disabled cruise passengers will have no problems leaving the pier or the port (photos shown below).  The entire area is step-free and some of the restaurants have flat or ramped access.

Step-free area Accessible port exit


Great overlooksGreat overlooks – When viewing promotional material from the cruise lines, you’ve probably seen photos of St. Maarten and not realized it.  Because it’s a hilly island, there are some great viewpoints from the mountains looking out a crystal blue waters.  You can get some great photographs of you and your family!

Easily experience two distinct cultures in a single day – This is smallest island in the world that is shared by two countries.  Book an accessible guided tour and learn how St. Martin & Sint Maarten came to be!

Walking distance to Philipsburg – The cruise ships dock 0.9 miles away from the town center of Philipsburg.  There is a step-free route to get into town so electric wheelchair users and mobility scooter users in particular may opt for that option…especially on the way back to the ship.

Accessible walking route from cruise dock to Philipsburg

Accessible walking route from cruise dock to Philipsburg 

Worst Aspects of St. Maarten Disabled Access

Hilly Island – Although the towns and the coast are flat, the rest of the island is mountainous.  Consequently, many of the restaurants, shopping, and attractions found inland have steep slopes.

Hilly Island Hilly Island


Steps into water taxiSteps into water taxi – Many people take a water taxi from the cruise dock to Philipsburg, but wheelchair users won’t have this option.  There are multiple steps down into the boat.

No accessible public transportation to get around island – Accessible public buses are not common in the Caribbean, and St. Maarten is no exception.  You’ll need to book private transportation if you want to get around.

No wheelchair ramps into ocean– After all my research, I have not found any beaches that have wooden or paved ramps leading down into the ocean.  If we received enough St. Maarten accessible shore excursion bookings, we will purchase a beach wheelchair to overcome this problem!

Steps at Fort St. Louis – Located high above Marigot, Fort St. Louis can only be navigated by ascending numerous steps.  In this sense, St. Maarten wheelchair access is not as good the accessible forts in San Juan.

Half of the stores on Front Street have steps – Philipsburg has numerous shopping options, and at least half of them have steps to enter.

Half of the stores on Front Street have steps Half of the stores on Front Street have steps


Narrow path at the Maho Beach – One of the most popular activities in St. Maarten is watching the airplanes fly extremely close overhead while arriving and departing.  Most spectators watch from the sandy beach, and the road is too narrow for a wheelchair user to wait without blocking traffic.  There are nearby areas that make for a good place for disabled travelers to watch this unusual event.

Narrow path at the Maho Beach Maho Beach - Danger


View St. Maarten accessible shore excursions