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St. Maarten/St. Martin

Public ferries run between Marigot Bay, St. Martin, and Blowing Point, Anguilla (tel. 264/497-6070) every 30 minutes. The trip takes 20 to 25 minutes, making day trips a snap. Usually, the first ferry leaves St. Martin at 8am and the last at 7pm; from Blowing Point, the first ferry leaves at 7:30am and the last at 6:15pm. The one-way fare is $15 ($10 children 2-18) plus a $3 departure tax. A departure tax of $20 (children $10) is charged on your return trip to St. Martin; day-trippers and visiting yachts pay a $5 departure tax. No reservations are necessary. Ferries vary in size, and none takes passenger vehicles. Tip: Keep in mind that if you have a late-arriving flight, you may quite literally miss the (ferry) boat. You can either spend the night in St. Maarten/St. Martin or arrange a charter plane connection into Anguilla.

A convenient option is to take one of the privately run charter boats and ferries that shuttle passengers between Anguilla and the airport in St. Maarten. Anguilla-based charter boats will pick you up at the Princess Juliana airport in St. Maarten and transport you and your luggage to Blowing Point or a hotel on the south side of Anguilla. These boats are more expensive than the public ferries, but let you avoid having to travel from the airport to the ferry port in Marigot by taxi (a 10- to 15-min. trip) -- a smart option for travelers with a lot of luggage or a lot of kids. Plus, the privately run boats are smaller and have fewer passengers and can even arrange full-boat charters for groups or families. Keep in mind that these boats do not run as frequently as the government-run ferry, but most do include ground transportation. Good news: In 2010, an agreement between the St. Maarten/Anguilla governments is designed to greatly facilitate the ease of private boat transfers (and passing through immigration) from the airport -- which means that ideally you will be able to get off the plane and jump on a boat straight to Anguilla in under 30 minutes.

Check out the GB Express (tel. 264/235-6205 in Anguilla; 599/581-3568 on St. Maarten; www.anguillaferryandcharter; $55 one way, $90 round-trip); the MV Shauna VI (tel. 264/476-0975 or 264/772-2031 in Anguilla; 599/580-6275 on St. Maarten; myshauna6@hotmail.com; round-trip fare $60 adults, $40 children 2-12); or Funtime Charters (tel. 866/334-0047 or 264/497-6511; www.funtime-charters.com; $55 per person one-way; half-price for children 11 and under). Reservations are required.

Most Anguilla hotels will also arrange (for a fee) private boat charters between the airport in St. Maarten and the ferry dock at Blowing Point, Anguilla, with door-to-door ground transportation.

Tip: If you'd like to do some shopping and have lunch in Marigot before you take your ferry to Anguilla, simply store your bags at the ferry landing. The Port de Marigot has a small baggage storage area ($5, plus tip).

St. Barts

The Voyager vessels (tel. 590/87-10-68; www.voy12.com or www.voyager-st-barths.com) make frequent (usually twice daily, sometimes more) runs between St. Barts and either side of St. Maarten/St. Martin. The schedule varies according to the season (and the seas), but the MV Voyager II usually departs Marigot Harbor for St. Barts every morning and evening. MV Voyager I travels from Oyster Pond to Gustavia two to four times daily. Advance reservations are a good idea; fares run around 50€ to 58€ adults, 30€ children 2-12 one way (plus taxes). The trip can take around 45 minutes and can be rough; it's recommended that those with weak tummies take seasickness medication before the trip.

The technologically advanced, speedy, more luxurious and stable 65-foot aluminum mono-hull Great Bay Express (tel. 590/27-60-33; www.sbhferry.com) offers daily 20- to 40-minute crossings between St. Maarten's Bobby's Marina in Philipsburg and Gustavia. The boat can carry 130 passengers. Reservations are essential; the roundtrip fare is 56€ to 95€ adults, 40€ to 50€ children 2 to 11 years (plus taxes).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.