Here’s a peek at our weeklong adventure on the unique and tiny Caribbean island of St. Martin (French side)/Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and Anguilla.
To get to St. Martin, we hopped on a 5.5 hour Sun Country flight from Minneapolis to Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch side of the island. After landing, we picked up our rental car and weaved our way through the French side to Anse Marcel on the complete opposite side of the island to check into our AirBNB bungalow.
The next morning, we hopped on the nearby ferry to Pinel Island, a little getaway only five minutes from the main island. We had originally planned to kayak/SUP over to the island (an option for a small fee) but the strong winds prevented us from doing so. Instead we paid the $15 for a round-trip ferry ticket.
Once on the island, we reserved some beach chairs/umbrellas ($25 for 2) from the beach restaurant furthest from the ferry landing and set up camp for the day. We were lucky to be on one of the first ferries of the day, because the chairs quickly filled up. It was clearly a popular spot!
We spent the rest of the day soaking up the sun, splashing around in the clear, aquamarine blue water, drinking piña coladas (brought right to our chairs), and exploring the hilly little island.
There was a trail system around the entire island with awesome views of St. Martin and other nearby islands, as well as up close viewing of the the mini island’s reptilian residents.
The restaurant that we rented our chairs from also served some of the best beach food I’ve ever had! After a day full of sun, we hopped on a late afternoon ferry back to St. Martin, cleaned up and got ready for our evening reservations in Grand Case.
Grand Case is apparently the Food Capital of the Caribbean and it was only a short albeit steep 10-minute drive from our apartment. In Grand Case, most of the restaurants line the street immediately adjacent to the beach. Our first night we had seaside reservations at Ocean82.
After a delicious seafood-filled meal, we enjoyed complimentary shots of house-made rum! I can’t tell you how many shots of rum we had over the course of the week. Just about every place we ate at on the French side offered them after our meal … even at lunch. 🙂
On day two, we decided to climb Pic Paradis, the highest point of St. Martin. We drove most of the way up the peak on a narrow, windy, sometimes one-lane mountain road before parking and hiking the last stretch (about 30 minutes) to the lookout offering some pretty impressive views of everything below.
After Pic Paradis, we drove to nearby Fort Louis located in the capital of St. Martin (the French side), Marigot to explore the ruins and enjoy the views.
From Marigot, we explored Sint Maarten (the Dutch side) a bit before for settling down for the afternoon at one of SXM’s most popular beaches – Maho Beach.
Not only does Maho Beach offer soft sand, sun and clear, blue water, but it also …
is unique because it sits at the end of Princess Juliana Airport (aka SXM). So, pretty much every airplane comes in over the beach. Although one of the more crowded beaches, we had a ton of fun spending the rest of our day here watching the planes fly overhead.
On day three we woke to morning showers and a furry friend in our open-air apartment. I affectionately named him Louis before kindly showing him the door. 🙂
The showers and clouds didn’t last long, because soon it soon cleared up and we were on our way to the nearby island of Anguilla via the 20-minute ferry from Marigot.
Once in Anguilla, we cleared customs and picked up a rental car before driving to Mead’s Bay Beach. This quiet, calm, shallow and clear – everything I love – may be my favorite beach to-date. We spent the morning splashing around before popping into the Straw Hat (right on the beach) for lunch.
We enjoyed a whole bunch of island fare. My personal favorite being the homemade warm plantain chips with fresh pico de gallo. Yum!
After getting our fill, we hopped into our rental and cruised around the island. Anguilla is much flatter than St. Martin, so it took next to no time to get from one side to the other. We stopped at couple of places including Island Harbor (above) which featured a bunch of little colorful hand-painted fishing boats, which we read will sometimes go 50-60 miles out into the open sea. Um … not for me. 🙂
Rendezvous Bay was the last Anguillian beach we stopped at. The beach offered a great view of St. Martin and we had fun watching the kiteboarders riding the wind.
We hopped on one of the last ferries back to St. Martin and enjoyed the sunset in Marigot before heading back to our apartment to enjoy supper in the little French restaurant below our AirBNB.