My friends and I welcome any opportunity we get to travel to a new place. One of the ways I justify constantly being on a plane is by celebrating everything and I do mean everything. I celebrate my birthday, friends birthdays , graduations and the list goes on. I think you get the picture I use every event and occasion as a reason to get away. So in the spirit of celebrations I decided to celebrate my 31st Birthday in St.Marteen. I went into this trip not quite sure of what my expectation should be. As someone who frequently visits the Caribbean I think its fair to say I expect beautiful beaches and unique cuisines, but as I dug into doing research on things to do in St.Marteen I realized was in for a very different experience.
Before going to St. Marteen beware that the Island is separated into two sides. St. Marteen( dutch side) St. Martin( French side).
As I begin to share more of my travel experiences I realize I am revealing bits and pieces of who I am. At the time of the trip I was a Jetblue employee so fortunately for me I only paid the taxes for getting to St. Marteen. The flight is about 3 and half hours from JFK.
Hotel: I booked my hotel through hotwire.com blind booking where the hotel is not revealed until after payment. Hotwire is one of my go to places for getting a great deal on beautiful hotel properties around the world. I have used it for a very long time and I have never been disappointed with my selections(granted I do stick to 4 and 5 star selections only).
For St. Marteen I chose an hotel on the dutch side because rom my research prior to my trip its was heavily documented that the Dutch side had more activities and the French side had the best food. My hotwire hotel revealed The Flamingo Resort on the Dutch side. It was a beautiful hotel right on the beach front and was a suite set up with kitchenette and lots of space.
As always the best deals are in off peak travel months. I went in April and happen to be there during their Carnival celebration. Being there during that time was good but may be a little less entertaining if you are not into the carnival scene. St. Marteen is a really small island and while there the entire island is at the Carnival celebrations. depending on what you are into that may be a good or bad thing for you doing local things in April.
The airport was easy to navigate. Its typical small island airport. Taxis were readily available to take us to the hotel and the min we stepped foot outside the airport the beauty and friendliness of this island was noticeable.
St. Marteen is a beautiful place the people are extremely friendly more so than any other island I have been to thus for, in fact that is their motto. My friends and I spent our entire trip wondering if it was an act or reality and I have to say i left convinced that they were genuinely nice people. They were so eager and happy to help you every step of the way. Our hotel was located on the beach in close proximity to a few other resorts . The road that lead to the hotel was was quite the trip walking. It was very steep so while going down was easy coming back up was a slight calf workout, but I was pleased with the central location.
After our journey to the hotel we were starving and the first thing we did while waiting on our room to be ready was head over to the hotel restaurant Toppers! Toppers was by far one of the best places we ate on the island. The staff is extremely friendly, the vibe is down to earth and the view is breath taking.
We did lots of research retaining to things to do while there and as I stated we were on the island during their Carnival celebration. Our mission was to at least partake in one of the carnival activity while there. Our first night we decided to check out the night life and then head over to the Carnival (jouvert) celebration that we were told kicked off around 4 am to 9am. Yes 4am to 9am!
While we did make it out to the club apparently we did not take the people of St. Marteen seriously when they said everyone on the island will be at Carnival! The club, well lets just say they could have used a few more patrons but we made the best of it and had a good time none the less. We then headed over to park that the Carnival kickoff was happening and yes thats where everyone in St. Marten was hiding. The entire island was there. If your from NYC or places like Miami that have a Carnival it was more of the same vibe but on a smaller scale. Great food, good music and lots of fun people having a good time.
From the first day we stepped foot on our resort we made friends with the staff. Overtime we would say hey what is there to do today? How far is it? How do we get there? They would always say its not that far, its right down the hill, just go down the hill and catch the bus. We would look at each other and say nope lets take a taxi thats too far to walk and the bus? unfortunately the transportation system in most islands is not their strong point so we were very leary. Well my Golden nugget is I wish we would have listened to them from day 1. We would have saved ourselves tons in taxi fees which is quite expensive by the way because the taxi fees change based on the time of day. The night time was very expensive. After not taking their advice for days we were at Mullet Bay and we could not get a taxi, so we decided to take the local bus!!! the best thing we discovered. It was cheap, clean and very very easy to use. We would have saved 100’s. So word to the wise seek out the bus that runs frequently in the day and goes between both sides of the island.
We are extreme planners. We knew that while there we could take a ferry from the French side of the Island Port Margot and head over to St. Barts, Anguilla or St. Johns. The ferries run frequently during the day about every hour and not so frequent during the evenings. Like most islands if you miss the last ferry you are stuck. They have a public ferry and private Ferries. The public ferry was 10.00US dollars and the private ferries varied based on if you were doing a charter for a small group or large group etc. We wanted to take advantage of going to both St. Barts and Anguilla but due to time constraints we could only do one. We chose Anguilla. (please check out my blog about Anguilla for a more detailed rundown of my trip.)Anguilla was stunning! Breath taxingly beautiful and less over ruined with tourist.
Overall I had an amazing time in St. Marteen and it was a very memorable birthday!!! My only regret is that I did not spend enough time on the French side outside of catching the Ferry there. I heard great things about the food on the French side.
So if you have never been to St. Marteen… make sure you make a space on your list for the beautiful small island treasure.