SIMPSON BAY LAGOONThis 12 square mile inland lagoon is one of the fnest anchorages in the NE Caribbean and is serviced by more than half a dozen marinas as well as providing frst rate moor-ings. The lagoon spans the Dutch/French borders and can be accessed either via the lift bridge in Simpson Bay or the lift bridge in Marigot Bay. See the section on Bridge Times and Information for full details.
SIMPSON BAYThe eastern end of this large and popular bay provides a good, sheltered anchorage. There is a sandy beach and plenty of activity in the form of water sports, day boats and vessels entering and leaving the lagoon. The close proximity of Princess Juliana Airport means that there is some disturbance from aircraft. However, the bay is close to what is called the Simpson Bay strip flled with good shop-ping, dining and nightlife spots.
GREAT BAYGreat Bay is the main commercial port of St. Maarten, and is where one would ideally anchor if you want to visit Philipsburg. The outer part of the bay is about 30 feet deep, shoaling suddenly to just ten feet and then gradually to seven or so feet up to the beach. There are plenty of services, shopping, din-ing, etc. It is not a good anchorage when the wind is from the south or southeast, and is certainly not a hurricane shelter.
OYSTER PONDThis picturesque lagoon on the eastern side of the island spans the Dutch and French border (though the water is administered by the Dutch side) and is a truly picture postcard anchorage. Access is via a marked channel through the reef and should be treated with caution. Water depth in the outer part of the pond is about 10 feet, falling to 3 feet towards the inner shores. Check your cruising guide for details including the sand bank in the center of the pond.
ORIENT BAYClaiming to have the fnest beach in the Caribbean, Orient Bay also has a couple of good anchorages. One location is at Green Cay at the southern end of the bay and the other is at Pinel Island at the northern end.
The anchorage at Green Cay is very useful if you wish to use the beach or its facilities including the nudist beach at Club Orient, and the anchorage off Pinel Island offers palm fringed beaches. There is excellent snorkel- ing at both anchorages.
Provisioning is somewhat limited and requires a short dinghy ride to Cul de Sac due west of Pinel, followed by a ten-minute walk. The sea at the entrance to the bay can be very rough with large waves and so extra care must be taken. Be certain to consult your chart and cruising guide.
ANSE MARCELAnse Marcel has a picturesque marina which lies at the head of a small bay. A channel, running alongside a nice beach, leads to the secluded marina of Port Lonvilliers. There are two classy hotels and a handful of bars, restaurants, shops, a dive shop and a small chandlery. The whole complex is enclosed on the landward side by craggy hills affording a good deal of privacy.
BAIE DE MARIGOTThe small town of Marigot, capital of French St. Martin, lies along the shores of this fairly large protected bay, it is also the location of the main seaport for the French side.
The spacious anchorage is close to the town quay, with easy access to the many shops and restaurants in this typically French port. A colorful Caribbean market operates from the area adjacent to the quay side and is especially worth visiting for its splendid array of regional fruit, vegetables and spices. Simpson Bay Lagoon can be accessed from the bay via the Sandy Ground Bridge. Close to the bridge are several marine businesses. Once again, take extra precaution when securing your dinghy - particularly in the evenings.
BAIE GRAND CASEThis wide bay with its long, curving sandy beach is a popular anchorage for those gastronomes eager to try out one or more of the numerous excellent restaurants for which Grand Case is famous. The long, main street of the village fronts onto the beach. In addi- tion to the restaurants there are a number of good bars and a couple of food stores. The anchorage is generally good for overnight stays but can be roily. It is advisable to exer- cise extra caution when securing your dinghy as thefts have been known.