Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunny and Sensuous St. Martin

Alright…this post isn’t about Seattle but here it is…Memorial Day weekend…quite nearly June…and we are yet again Sunless in Seattle.  Though we found this rainy and gloomy day the perfect day to clean the house, I can’t help but yearn to go back to the week we spent in sunny and fabulous St. Martin in March. Located in the northeast Caribbean next to St. Barths, St. Martin (also spelled St. Maarten) is a beautiful, relaxing, unassuming island which is divided between France on the northern half of the island and the Netherlands on the Southern half.   During the late summer and early fall the weather can be quite stormy and the island is the target of hurricanes.  Both times we have traveled there were in the spring and the weather was nothing but a dream…in the mid-80’s and sunny each day with a bit of rain at night to cool off.  This small 37 square mile island offers the perfect blend of culture, nightlife and with over 36 white sand beaches to choose from, the perfect place for a relaxing vacation.  I’ve traveled to make wonderful places around the world but St. Martin has won my heart.
Here are some of my favorite activities and must do’s should you ever find yourself on this charming little island!
   1)      Coffee and Croissants in Marigot- This lovely capital city of the French portion of the island offers a chic European feel.  With its cosmopolitan dining and boutique shopping I always set aside a day here to sip espressos, peruse the boutiques, enjoy a 5-star dinner and practice my French!

   2)      Daylong catamaran tour- Several companies that offer half or full day boat tours either around St. Martin or to another island nearby.  We have had a wonderful time on a daylong tour to Prickly Pear beach on the island of Anguilla and on a wonderful 8 hour sail around St. Martin stopping several times at top beaches to snorkel.

3)      Visiting ANY of the 36 beaches- St. Martin has a wonderful collection of beaches and no matter what you are in the mood for…there is a beach for that! You may be feeling energetic and social or want a quiet, secluded beach for a romantic day.  Be sure to obtain a beach guide (available online) which offers a description of each beach.  It comes in handy when you are NOT up for accidentally ending up at a nude beach like we did. J

4)      Nightlife in Grand Case- The nightlife in Grand Case on the French side of the island is vibrant to say the least!  There are several nice dinner spots and bars along the water where you can dine on the beach as you watch the sun set and dance the night away later to a live band. I love visiting the trendy Calmos Café which combines all of the above into a sophisticated yet beach-cool setting.

5)      Guavaberry rum- The local rum of choice? Guavaberry rum for sure! While not actually made with Guavaberries, this delightful, fruity rum mixes well with fruit juices for a refreshing cocktail. Be sure to visit the Guavaberry Emporium in downtown Philipsburg where brightly dressed and very enthusiastic shop keepers serve up as many samples as you like!

   6)      Watching the planes land on Maho beach- You’ve probably seen the photos online and thought they were photoshopped….tourists standing on the beach with a plane landing so close you’d think they could reach out and touch it. Well…they are real and you MUST go to Maho beach and experience it for yourself!  The beach is right at the end of the runway at Princess Julianna Airport and when planes come in for a landing they are literally right above your head. Absolutely an experience like no other!

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