Thursday, January 23, 2014

When The Family Visit St Maarten

The five of us at Shell Beach, St Barts

The last couple of weeks have flown by in a family frenzy, with my two younger sisters Jen and Ali and Ali's boyfriend Michael flying out to join us here in St Maarten for some fun and frolics in the sun.  Packed in like sardines we squeezed five of us in our two cabin boat and showed them a few of the sights that the dual Dutch/French Island has to offer; plus a wee trip to St Bart’s thrown in between for good measure.
Planes landing at the Sunset Beach Bar
What is St Maarten/Martin famous for? Well believe it or not, it’s the airport.  Not your usual tourist attraction but this one is a little bit special.  People flock to the Sunset beach bar on Maho beach to get as close as they can to the planes as they land and take off.  Hanging on to the fence that divides the beach from the runway, you literally get blasted by the massive force of a 747 turbo jet engine.  Or reach to the sky and try and let your finger tips brush the plane as it comes in to land.

Fun day at Mullat Bay beach
Not to be missed are some of the island’s beaches.  Within easy distance from where we were anchored inside the lagoon you have Simpson Bay, a mile long stretch of white sand that never gets over crowded. But our favourite is Mullet Bay – a ½ mile stretch of hot white sand beach and sea as clear as blue sapphires.  Rocky outcrops cling to each side of the bay providing a perfect home for the king of pre-historic lizards – the iguana.

Fort Louis at Marigot Bay on the French side

Not wanting to exclusively stick with the Dutch side, we took a long slow dinghy ride over to the French side and a climb up to Fort Louis with its magnificent views overlooking Marigot Bay.  Rewarding ourselves with an obligatory croissant or crepe in one of the many patisseries found in the town below.
Mini break to St Barts

We decided to take a quick trip over to St Bart’s because, well, we were so close it would have been rude not to. Just a 15 mile sail away, we pulled into our first stop of Columbier where Sim and I had come from just the week before.  It is one of our favourite spots.  The next morning we pootled around to Gustavia – the islands capital, and dropped the anchor in the pretty but rolly anchorage.  We did all the necessary paper work and everyone humoured me while we set about on a short walk to find Shell Bay – a beach which we have never been to before but I felt we (meaning I) should go to considering my love of all things shelly! Hot and losing humour I think everyone thought the short trek was worth it in the end, if not for the shells which the beach was literally covered in, but for the absolutely stunning beach.  We could have stayed longer, in fact we should have stayed longer but instead we headed back into town for a drink at Le Select, one of the small towns infamous bars. Our party were not overly impressed by the bling St Bart’s had to offer nor did they get all starry eyed at all the Mega yachts that adorn the harbour. So we pootled back to Columbier for another day of fun and frolics in the sun, kayaking and snorkelling and getting just a little over excited by the number of good sized Remora or shark suckers that took up residence under the boat.  When a few fellow cruisers arrived that night we had a get together on board Wandering Star squeezing 10 people into our snug cockpit.
Back in St Maarten, we said goodbye to Jen who could only stay a week, having a last meal with her at the Simpson Bay Yacht Club where we watched all the (unimpressive!) mega yachts go through the bridge and tie up inside the lagoon.  Ali and Michael had a few more days with us.  After establishing that no cruise ships were due in on Monday (we had seen 7 as we sailed past a few days prior) we all took a local bus into Philipsburg, the Dutch half’s capital.  Philipsburg is famous for its shopping – mainly jewellery and designer clothing, but the boardwalk lined with quirky bars and restaurants is a nice place to sit back and watch the comings and goings on the good-looking beach.

Jen, Ali, Michael & Sim on Simpson Bay beach
Now Ali and Michael’s holiday draws to an end.  We have had a few more beach days (they were not impressed with Kimshaw beach – but enjoyed the old converted bus known as Karacters on Simpson Bay beach.) before we say goodbye.  Now it’s time to knuckle down to some long awaited boat work......only now we have investigated the yards available we are no longer sure we want to haul out here.  Time to come up with a new plan perhaps....

1 comment:

  1. I see you've have been doing photo montage experimenting. My vote goes to the "Mini break to St Bart" Style.