St. Martin Island – Where Nothing is Better

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A Carnival parade in Marigot, on the island of St. Martin.

The weather in my town is so foggy and cold lately, it’s got me wishing I was back on St. Martin, an island where I meandered four years ago. This blog entry is a good excuse to revisit that trip and share it with you.

I travelled to St. Martin with a friend. We chose it that February because: A) It was warm. B) English is spoken. C) No visa is required, just a passport, and D) U.S. dollars can easily be used. It was foreign, but not too foreign, if you know what I mean.

The island is also extremely easy to find your way around, literally. One main road encircles the coast, so it’s hard to get lost. Also, round-abouts abound, making it easy for confused tourists to have more than one chance to choose the proper exit.

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Pineapple Hill at Simpson Bay.

We stayed at a beach resort, and did plenty of frolicking in the waves and snorkeling. The first off-resort beach we went to was the one famous for having an airport runway approach right overhead (Maho Beach). It’s not often you get to take a tan and watch a plane fly only 50 feet above your prone body. I kind of wonder how long it will be before a disaster happens and either the beach or the airport gets moved. (But I hope no disasters happen.)

ButterflyFarther inland, visitors can zipline through the jungle at a nature preserve, visit a butterfly garden and open air markets, and hike to the highest point on the island (Pic Paradise).

Half of the island is under jurisdiction of the Netherlands, the other half, France. The day we explored the French side, we chanced upon a Carnival parade in the French capitol city of Marigot. We also scored a fabulous French meal in a harborside bistro, Le Chanteclair, where their most-appropriate motto is: Gastronomy is the foundation of true happiness.

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A meal at Le Chanteclair in Marigot: prawns with an egg roll and lobster sauce. To die for!

In the Netherlands capitol city of Philipsburg, we discovered an art gallery and movie museum run by the “Yoda Guy.” He was one of the original make-up artists who worked on Yoda in the Star Wars movies.

The residents of St. Martin are friendly, and unlike some Caribbean islands I’ve visited, there doesn’t seem to be a huge income disparity between the islanders and the visitors. I never felt unsafe walking around at night or driving through towns. And the bartenders are friendly, too. My middle-aged friend and I had one hit on us (he gave us his phone number with hearts drawn around it), which makes me even fonder of the island. 🙂

One note of good-natured warning. Be sure to consult your beach guide so you know what type of beach you’re going to. We stumbled upon a nude gay beach by accident, but figured things out pretty darn fast (and ran away!) The island also sports several nude resorts, Club Orient, is the most popular. Their motto is: Where “Nothing is Better.”

St. Martins 1 038Although we ran away from the nude gay beach, we did find a nude beach suitable for the adventurous introvert. Sorry, I can’t recall the name of it now (Happy Bay?), but it lies within a gated community. A couple who were leaving through the gate were good enough to give us the entry code, and we enjoyed freeing ourselves of our swimsuits on a relatively private beach.

Another note of warning: don’t step on any sea urchins. Those things hurt. My friend found out the hard way. The good news is that if you do step on one, pharmacies on St. Martin carry sea urchin spine removal ointment. I can’t say that it worked very well on my girlfriend, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

Ah, St. Martin. I would go back in a heartbeat. Thanks for the warm memories on this dismal day.


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