Sint Maarten | travel

This summer, we decided that rather than packing up all our seasonal clothing and taking multiple flights to arrive jet-lagged and worn out at our far-away destination, we'd take the bâteau (I say bâteau because it sounds so much fancier than "boat", and helps me to forget how very far from comfortable and luxurious the ferry is here), and holiday closer to home. For us, that means Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.

Sint Maarten is also what connects Saba to the rest of the world: all boats and flights arriving to Saba originate in Sint Maarten; our post goes to and comes from Sint Maarten, etc. So we’ve been there before, but only for a long weekend or as a stop-over on our way to somewhere else in the world or region. This time we had a bit longer than a week. 

Coming from Saba, the first and foremost thing we get excited about when leaving the rock is WATER! Drinking water from the faucet, flushing the toilet after one use and taking showers without turning the water off when soaping and shampooing is crazy exciting! I realize that this may not be the key highlight when leaving home for most folks, so here are five more, mixed in with a few fun anecdotes: 

Surfing at Le Galion

We took a morning family surf lesson, and we all got up! Koen and I have surfed plenty of times, but not on a regular basis, so this was definitely the highlight for us. Although my daughter also really enjoyed surfing, my son decided, after beautifully riding a wave back to the boat, that this was just not his hobby.

Beach tennis in the evenings at Orient Bay (we stayed in this apartment).

Koen and I prefer the beach, but the kids always seem to prefer the pool. It seems iguanas do too. While lounging one day at the edge of the pool, I observed an iguana nonchalantly pass us by, climb up the tree and proceed to pee and poo on to my lounge chair…while I was sitting on it.

Baguettes! Lots of baguettes & cheese! (but no photos of either, just of my babes)

When staying on Sint Maarten, I actually prefer the French side: St. Martin. Part of the reason is the food. I love the combination of Caribbean vibe and French restaurants and grocery stores. Any sort of low-carb or low-cal eating takes a break here.

Eating, swimming, drinking and chilling at Karakter

When on the Dutch side, this is my very favorite place to be: on the beach at Karakter. If you happen to be over-nighting in St. Maarten, I recommend staying as close to here as possible, so that you can end your day with sun-downers and - if you're lucky - live music on the beach. If you're here with family and out-of-season, then Beachside Villas are a great option! If you're on your own or only needing a place for overnight, I recommend Mary's Boon. The decoration is, um, not excellent...but the location is!

Hiking to and swimming at Happy Bay!

A short hike away from Friar's Bay, Happy Bay attracts few people. It's mostly just people looking for a quiet beach, but also a few who are looking to sunbathe in the buff. "Oh, jeez!" exclaimed my son loudly as he happened to turn his head in the direction of such a man, just as he was bending down to grab his towel. The idea of people tanning nude on the beach was so funny and crazy to my kids in their minds. In real life they decided swimsuits are the way to go.

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