5 Caribbean Islands in 3 Weeks – ST. MARTIN

As we are passionate frequent flyers we knew that Maho Beach in St. Martin is famous for plane watching. The arriving planes fly at minimum altitude over the beach and land on the smallest runway in the world just behind the beach at Juliana Airport (SXM). The vibe at the beach is awesome. Tourists stand at the beach sipping cocktails while airplanes come in for landing just a few feet above their heads. We have seen videos on youtube before and did not want to miss this experience. We checked the flight board before our arrival and saw that KLM would land about the same time as our plane. Unfortunately the plane already had arrived when we landed. But we asked the taxi driver to stop so that at least we could see the KLM plane taking off. So we hung on for the jet blast. I never imagined that the jet blast would be so powerful. It literally blows you away. I’m glad we were not standing right at the fence. After the KLM took off, we stayed to watch the DELTA flight coming in and took some nice photos.

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After that we were ready to continue on to the Alamanda hotel at Orient Bay which is on the French side of St. Martin. The hotel is located practically right at the beach. From the outside it doesn’t look very promising.

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Neither did the reception. We feared the worse but the room was actually pretty decent with a kitchen and a nice big terrace. The TV was tiny but that is not an issue for us as we almost never watch TV anyhow.

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In the afternoon we met Manu from the Vela Kite School. He told us that it’s a must to go to Pinel Island. Even though there was enough wind to go kiting, we decided to take the Hobbie Cat to cross over to Pinel Island instead. My job was to enjoy the ride and film with the GoPro. Once we got there we had a not so good but strong Caipirinha and then unfortunately two beer each (I only wanted one but Paul was going for it). So the way back was quite funny. Still feeling the buzz we went to the room to change and then go to dinner. On the way there we took some funny pictures of me trying to pose like a Venezuelan. They make it look so easy but I tell you it’s not 😛 You can decide yourself if I succeeded or not.

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Paul wanted to show me how to do it. Not sure that really helped. We shouldn’t have had the last beer 😛

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For dinner we went to Le Piment.

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The owner is friendly but it was a bit fast and overwhelming when she explained us the huge menu of the day. She also had a bit of a draconian character.

DSC_1280

We felt a bit sorry for our waitress. She was really sweet. Food was actually really good with super yummy bread. We shared a goat cheese salad and then both had the tuna. Paul wanted to order a Caiphi but fortunately I said that we should go with beer. Paul afterwards barely remembered the evening and the food we had LOL. I guess we were pretty drunk. We also made some friends that evening. Paul asked the group of older people next to us where they are from. They came from Georgia and Texas. It turned out that they have been coming to St. Martin for over 10 years and they always stay up where the rocks are at the nude beach. They really liked us and wanted is to come by the next day. Paul decided that he wouldn’t ask people in st Martin anymore where they are from.

The next day we woke up with quite hungover. Not really surprising. Paul put the alarm at 7am but no way I could have gone kiting then. So we ended up kiting at 8:30am. Onshore winds. I really liked the spot. Lots of sea turtles in the water. I LOVE sea turtles. They are so cute. After getting used to the spot I finally felt like doing some freestyle tricks. There were quite some boats so I had to be careful especially with the tricks that I don’t land so consistently yet. Last thing I wanted was my kite in a boat. But all went well and I had a really good session.

DSC_7458

We were also able to try out the kite school’s sword foil board. Thank you Manu! It seemed a bit slower than ours. Manu’s son was doing backrolls on the sword after just a week on the foil board. Really impressive. After about two hours on the water we went back to have a break. I was in desperate need of a decent Cafe Latte and we found one at the l’hoste beach bar.

DSC_7476

Our second kite session started out good. Almost nobody was on the water. But being hungover and dehydrated, my headache got worse and I felt like vomiting. So we came back in, showered and rested in the room until dinner at Table d’Antoine.

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At Table d’Antoine we both had the red snapper and a mojito (despite my headache which magically went away after a drink – is that concerning?). It could be the fact that Paul is such a good fish cooker and that we often have red snapper but we were not overly impressed by the food. All the locals were recommending Table d’Antoine, the atmosphere is great there and our waiter was very friendly but we felt that the night before at Le Piment the food was better.

DSC_1148

Our last day in St. Martin was a work day. For our travel company Caribbean Winds we had meetings with three hotels. The first one was at 9am at l’Hoste Hotel at walking distance. Paul went alone to the first meeting so that I could have my quiet morning coffee at our hotel. I love my fiancé. It was a super hot and humid day and I don’t cope very well with humidity. Every movement made you sweat. Being dressed up nicely for the meetings did not make things easier. The second meeting was with the Flamboyant Hotel – a perfect hotel for families. They have a lot of water sports to offer, the water is very shallow and all rooms have a kitchen on their terrace. It’s also the only place in St. Martin where you can see sea horses in the water. The last meeting was with the Mercure Hotel. The owners invested quite some money into the hotel and it really looks nice. I would book it in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

After our meetings we quickly stopped at the market at Fort Maritime for some photos

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and then went to the famous Calmos Cafe – the perfect place for a drink at night with live music and a very chilled out atmosphere.

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Back at our hotel, we had a shower and rushed out to take some more photos. Manu was on the water with his foil board. When he came in, Paul landed his kite.

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They had a little chat

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and we then said good-bye to him to leave for dinner. We wanted to eat at the Tai Chi (sushi/Thai place) which is supposed to be good but it was closed. Every night one of the restaurants at the plaza was closed probably due to low season. So we went back to Le Piment and had the exact same thing again. Salad and tuna. And this time we had a pretty good mojito.

DSC_7472 copy

 

My summary:

St. Martin is beautiful for kiting. The aquamarine water is crystal clear and you’ll see tons of sea turtles while kiting. And also for the non-kiting partner St. Martin has a lot to offer.
We really enjoyed our Hobbie Cat ride to Pinel Island.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go on a boat trip for a few days to get to know the other close by islands. We have heard there are amazing spots for kiters 😉
Nightlife is definitely a plus. Orient Bay has lots of good restaurants and bars to chose from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, we left the hotel at 5:30am for our flight to Antigua departing at 8:10am. After being checked in and through security I was surprised that at 7am not a single shop or restaurant or coffee place was open. I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t get my coffee fix but fortunately right at our gate there was a little booth serving coffee. What a different experience: in Trinidad you can have a coffee at 4am and in St. Martin at 7am you are lucky if you find a coffee place that is open.

As we are passionate frequent flyers we knew that Maho Beach in St. Martin is famous for plane watching. The arriving planes fly at minimum altitude over the beach and land on the smallest runway in the world just behind the beach at Juliana Airport (SXM). The vibe at the beach is awesome. Tourists stand at the beach sipping cocktails while airplanes come in for landing just a few feet above their heads. We have seen videos on youtube before and did not want to miss this experience. We checked the flight board before our arrival and saw that KLM would land about the same time as our plane. Unfortunately the plane already had arrived when we landed. But we asked the taxi driver to stop so that at least we could see the KLM plane taking off. So we hung on for the jet blast. I never imagined that the jet blast would be so powerful. It literally blows you away. I’m glad we were not standing right at the fence. After the KLM took off, we stayed to watch the DELTA flight coming in and took some nice photos.

IMG_1132

DSC_1048

 

After that we were ready to continue on to the Alamanda hotel at Orient Bay which is on the French side of St. Martin. The hotel is located practically right at the beach. From the outside it doesn’t look very promising.

DSC_1277

Neither did the reception. We feared the worse but the room was actually pretty decent with a kitchen and a nice big terrace. The TV was tiny but that is not an issue for us as we almost never watch TV anyhow.

IMG_1169 IMG_1165 copy IMG_1168

In the afternoon we met Manu from the Vela Kite School. He told us that it’s a must to go to Pinel Island. Even though there was enough wind to go kiting, we decided to take the Hobbie Cat to cross over to Pinel Island instead. My job was to enjoy the ride and film with the GoPro. Once we got there we had a not so good but strong Caipirinha and then unfortunately two beer each (I only wanted one but Paul was going for it). So the way back was quite funny. Still feeling the buzz we went to the room to change and then go to dinner. On the way there we took some funny pictures of me trying to pose like a Venezuelan. They make it look so easy but I tell you it’s not 😛 You can decide yourself if I succeeded or not.

IMG_1203 IMG_1201

 

Paul wanted to show me how to do it. Not sure that really helped. We shouldn’t have had the last beer 😛

IMG_1195 IMG_1193

 

For dinner we went to Le Piment.

DSC_1309

The owner is friendly but it was a bit fast and overwhelming when she explained us the huge menu of the day. She also had a bit of a draconian character.

DSC_1280

We felt a bit sorry for our waitress. She was really sweet. Food was actually really good with super yummy bread. We shared a goat cheese salad and then both had the tuna. Paul wanted to order a Caiphi but fortunately I said that we should go with beer. Paul afterwards barely remembered the evening and the food we had LOL. I guess we were pretty drunk. We also made some friends that evening. Paul asked the group of older people next to us where they are from. They came from Georgia and Texas. It turned out that they have been coming to St. Martin for over 10 years and they always stay up where the rocks are at the nude beach. They really liked us and wanted is to come by the next day. Paul decided that he wouldn’t ask people in st Martin anymore where they are from.

The next day we woke up with quite hungover. Not really surprising. Paul put the alarm at 7am but no way I could have gone kiting then. So we ended up kiting at 8:30am. Onshore winds. I really liked the spot. Lots of sea turtles in the water. I LOVE sea turtles. They are so cute. After getting used to the spot I finally felt like doing some freestyle tricks. There were quite some boats so I had to be careful especially with the tricks that I don’t land so consistently yet. Last thing I wanted was my kite in a boat. But all went well and I had a really good session.

DSC_7458

We were also able to try out the kite school’s sword foil board. Thank you Manu! It seemed a bit slower than ours. Manu’s son was doing backrolls on the sword after just a week on the foil board. Really impressive. After about two hours on the water we went back to have a break. I was in desperate need of a decent Cafe Latte and we found one at the l’hoste beach bar.

DSC_7476

Our second kite session started out good. Almost nobody was on the water. But being hungover and dehydrated, my headache got worse and I felt like vomiting. So we came back in, showered and rested in the room until dinner at Table d’Antoine.

DSC_1282

At Table d’Antoine we both had the red snapper and a mojito (despite my headache which magically went away after a drink – is that concerning?). It could be the fact that Paul is such a good fish cooker and that we often have red snapper but we were not overly impressed by the food. All the locals were recommending Table d’Antoine, the atmosphere is great there and our waiter was very friendly but we felt that the night before at Le Piment the food was better.

DSC_1148

Our last day in St. Martin was a work day. For our travel company Caribbean Winds we had meetings with three hotels. The first one was at 9am at l’Hoste Hotel at walking distance. Paul went alone to the first meeting so that I could have my quiet morning coffee at our hotel. I love my fiancé. It was a super hot and humid day and I don’t cope very well with humidity. Every movement made you sweat. Being dressed up nicely for the meetings did not make things easier. The second meeting was with the Flamboyant Hotel – a perfect hotel for families. They have a lot of water sports to offer, the water is very shallow and all rooms have a kitchen on their terrace. It’s also the only place in St. Martin where you can see sea horses in the water. The last meeting was with the Mercure Hotel. The owners invested quite some money into the hotel and it really looks nice. I would book it in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

After our meetings we quickly stopped at the market at Fort Maritime for some photos

DSC_1240

and then went to the famous Calmos Cafe – the perfect place for a drink at night with live music and a very chilled out atmosphere.

DSC_1254

Back at our hotel, we had a shower and rushed out to take some more photos. Manu was on the water with his foil board. When he came in, Paul landed his kite.

DSC_7489

They had a little chat

DSC_7493

and we then said good-bye to him to leave for dinner. We wanted to eat at the Tai Chi (sushi/Thai place) which is supposed to be good but it was closed. Every night one of the restaurants at the plaza was closed probably due to low season. So we went back to Le Piment and had the exact same thing again. Salad and tuna. And this time we had a pretty good mojito.

DSC_7472 copy

 

My summary:

St. Martin is beautiful for kiting. The aquamarine water is crystal clear and you’ll see tons of sea turtles while kiting. And also for the non-kiting partner St. Martin has a lot to offer.
We really enjoyed our Hobbie Cat ride to Pinel Island.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go on a boat trip for a few days to get to know the other close by islands. We have heard there are amazing spots for kiters 😉
Nightlife is definitely a plus. Orient Bay has lots of good restaurants and bars to chose from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, we left the hotel at 5:30am for our flight to Antigua departing at 8:10am. After being checked in and through security I was surprised that at 7am not a single shop or restaurant or coffee place was open. I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t get my coffee fix but fortunately right at our gate there was a little booth serving coffee. What a different experience: in Trinidad you can have a coffee at 4am and in St. Martin at 7am you are lucky if you find a coffee place that is open.

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