I have never been to Pinel Island, but will be going in January. I have done some research on this and have seen pictures posted on the Internet about Pinel Island. Supposedly the snorkeling is good, although I can't vouch for that. However, I did talk to a cab driver the last time we were in St. Martin (2001) and he told me that you can do Pinel Island on your own, for about 1/2 of what the ship wants.
Tell a cab driver to take you to the ferry to Pinel Island. Last I heard, the round trip to the island on the ferry was about $6. When you're ready to leave, take the ferry back and grab a cab back to the ship.
Thank you . Please let me know how your trip goes. Our cruise is not until May. We will be touring St.Thomas and Half Moon Cay. (probably San juan if we can't tender to Half Moon Cay.) Any suggestions about tours.? We love snorkeling and sightseeing. Not into shopping much. Do you know anything about the Golden Eagle snorkel tour?(ship tour St. Maarten/St. Martin)
I would like to read about someone's Pinel experience, too. (Want to mention I have heard this is a clothing optional place, if this would bother you.) We went to Dawn Beach last year. There is a reef very, very close to shore that offers decent snorkeling. You can get a cab there from the port and there is a place to eat right on the beach.We once stayed in St. Maartin for a week and were taken to Anguilla (another island) to snorkel. I would not say the areas around St. Maarten offer the best snorkeling, but if you are desperate to snorkel (like we usually are!), there are options.