With bags packed and our passports in hand, we were ready to set off for our winter escape to more sunnier climes. Heading across the Atlantic, our chosen destination was the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. Well, that’s if you’re on the French side, or Sint Maarten if you’re on the Dutch. Positioned in the northeast of the Caribbean Sea, is the smallest inhabited island that is divided between two nations.
It can be difficult to get a direct flight from the US, UK or Canada to St Martin, so spend a bit of time researching your flights to avoid long stopovers. You should be able to achieve a flight plan with only one short stop. If flying from the UK, you do have the option of taking a flight to Paris and then getting a direct flight from there. Alternatively, if you were chartering a yacht like we were, you could start your itinerary from a more convenient island.
We started our yacht charter from Marina Fort Louis, which is in Marigot Bay, on the French side. This is a well-positioned marina with plenty of amenities and we were able to clear customs at the marina office computer. We decided to explore our surroundings and found there to be plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars within walking distance.
When picking up our croissants in the morning, we couldn’t resist visiting the gaily coloured market stalls that line the marina. It was a great place to buy gifts to take home to friends and family, and found that our negotiating skills made our money go much further! After a delicious lunch at one of the many marina restaurants, we wandered up to Fort St Louis. The views across the island are stunning, with Simpson Bay Lagoon on one side and the striking coastline continuing round to the north on the other. On your return to the marina, be prepared to be amazed at the beautiful iguanas that you will find sunning themselves on the rocks at the entrance to the marina, they are truly exquisite. An early evening walk of less than ten minutes led us to entrance of Port Royale, with further bars, and restaurants to choose from. We ate at the French restaurant, Le Galion, where they serve the most amazing thin crust pizzas, and the Creme Brulee’ to follow is a must. Delivered to our table, with compliments of the house, was a bottle of the locally produced banana rum, which was delicious. A fantastic ending to a delightful meal.
Untying the following morning, with surprisingly clear heads, we headed to Grand Case. This is a protected bay and made a perfect spot for anchoring overnight. We prefer being at anchor, as it affords the opportunity of going for a swim whenever we want to, which is essential when trying to keep cool in this tropical climate. Ashore, is a bustling hub of shops, bars, and restaurants. There are several delightful art galleries and craft shops which sell locally produced talent. Choosing a restaurant that overlooked the bay, we enjoyed watching the sun set over the boat filled bay.
Snorkeling before breakfast is a great way to start the day and an excellent time to discover colourful marine life. After our refreshing start, we headed further north and anchored in the next bay, Anse Marcel. Enjoying a leisurely lunch ashore at one of the beach restaurant, we snoozed the afternoon off on one of their comfortable sunbeds before heading back to the boat to enjoy the sunset with a deliciously mixed cocktail.
Read my next blog to see where we travel to next…
By Laura Barber