Just returned from a glorious weeklong vacation aboard the Freedom of the Seas with my husband and daughters. We visited San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. In St. Maarten, we decided to rent a car and venture out on our own. We got off the pier and immediately noticed there were car rental businesses just within a block or two. I must say that we got taken. We were shown a picture of a nice little green SUV and we were told it would cost us $50 for the day. Well, another guy had us get in his van and he drove us to where our vehicle was. It was in a very rundown area, just off the main road. The vehicle we got looked like it had been stripped clean by some drug lords. It was a beat up (no exageration) Toyota Rave and the entire roof on the inside was stripped down to the metal. The radio was completely exposed and the AC sounded like a jet engine. The whole inside was covered in dust. It was awful! Let me go ahead and say that when we turned the vehicle in, the price we owed jumped to $80!
We started from the Dutch side and tried to venture over to the French side. The guy at the rental place said it would take us about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drive around the whole island. Well, the traffic was horrible and we made it as far as Moho Beach, where the airplanes fly right over your head. The beach and water were beautiful.
We knew we'd better not venture off much farther because we had to be back to the cruise ship by late afternoon and we wanted to have time to shop. It took us forever to find a place to park. Once again, the traffic was terrible! The city of Phillipsburg did not impress us. It was very dirty. So, I'm not sure where we should have gone to see the prettier side of St. Maarten, but we didn't find it the day we were there. The vendors at the downtown market were quite pushy and insistant.
Has anyone else had a similar experience? Just curious.