A narrow strip of sand between the Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond is the location of  the West Indian Mecca of tax-free shopping. Just steps away from the cruise-ship dock in Philipsburg an array of shopping temples await to make all your duty-free dreams come through.

Prepare to indulge in a world of sparkling diamonds, cultured pearls, fine gemstones, Swiss watches and electronic products at remarkably low prices.


If you are interested in worldclass, exclusive timepieces from such famous brands as Patek Philippe, Breguet, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin - you need to visit Jewels by Love! Here you will find the most qualified advise about the legendary brands they carry as official agents. Visit Shiva's Gold & Gems to not only find timepieces, but the most amazing selection of fine jewelry. No wonder Shiva's is a member of 'Leading Jewelers of the World'!

St. Maarten is especially renown for its precious stones and many outlets offer loose and set diamonds for half of the American retail prices. Most outlets deal directly with the diamond cutters and the savings are passed on to their customers. You'll find museum masterpieces at affordable prices. Explore stores like Ballerina Jewelers, Caribbean Gems, Oro Diamante.

If you've never discovered Tanzanite, this unique purple colored stone is sure to catch your eye. This gemstone was first discovered in Tanzania, Africa but now you can explore its beauty in the largest Tanzanite houses of the Caribbean, loose, or set in rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Diamonds may be a girls best friend but pearls are back in high fashion and St. Maarten has an impressive selection of stores offering black Tahitian Pearls and Australian South Sea Cultured pearls.

And for a classical gift, why not take home some Swarowski Crystal and the ever-stylish Lladro sculptured figurines. For some serious entertainment electronics and cameras, as well as an astounding collection of jewelry, visit Boolchands, one of St. Maarten's most established companies. All of this and more located on just one street! Frontstreet alone offers more than 70 Jewelry shops, so you won't have to wander far to find that special gift or a new 'best friend'!

For clothing, designer labels like Tommy Hillfiger, MaxMara, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne are just a few of the haute couture temples for all you style gurus. And there is no shortage of Italian designer shoes and styles imported from around Europe. For more casual leisure and beach wear, check the Golden Gate Giftshop which also sells great island souvenirs.

Don't forget to stroll through Old Street to experience a little European flavor. Enjoy traditional handmade Belgian chocolates and visit the workshop to find out the art of making these mouth-watering bonbons then plunge into the throng of the island's craft market just behind the Old Courthouse. Amid a wall of colorful sarongs, you'll find printed t-shirts, painted pots, wooden hand carved statues and stone sculptures. Tuck yourself into one of the colorful Caribbean cotton dresses and team it up with a locally crafted shell necklace. The sales pitches can be insistent but the deals are good.

If you want to take your sweet St. Martin memories home on a island canvas, brush through one of the fine art galleries, where you can find original oils by major local names such as Ras Mosera, Francis Eck, and Mounette Radot, to the trees and sketches by famous local artist Roland Richardson or the colorful silk paintings of Gaynor Noyce. On the market you'll find many colorful pieces of art from Haitian artists for a very good price.

As you will see Sint Maarten offers an unfathomable number of shopping temptations. Add a few liquor stores such as the International Liquor and Tobacco Trading, island-made specialties from Rum Jumbie Liquor to the biggest range of cigars from Casa de Habano, and a high-class range of perfume and cosmetic shops, and this shopping paradise offers plenty of places to spend your money.

If you are looking for the islands best selection of high quality Caribbean-made gifts, souvenirs, books and resort wear visit one of Shipwreck Shops - 15 conveniently located shops around the island.