The Mister and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on the French and Dutch governed island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The first full day was Saturday, where we simply lounged on the Kakoa Beach. The adventures began on Sunday:
The Butterfly Farm is very close to the Hotel La Plantation where we stayed. The Mister surprised me with this activity in the early afternoon. The enclosed sanctuary for these lovely creatures provides a safe refuge from birds, lizards, and other predators as butterflies are at the bottom of the food chain in nature. Strange fact: the Atlas Moth shown above only lives for 5 days, as it lacks all organs that allow it to eat.
On Monday, the Mister really yearned to go hiking in the low mountains of the island. There are supposedly 17 trails on the island, but the well maintained ones were closed to the public on Mondays, as they are located on a farm that is closed on Mondays. Doh! But we did drive the treacherous, windy roads to the top of a hill and found a couple of single track trails. This hike did not last very long, as our skin is not accustomed to the vegetation here and soon began to itch like crazy.
It was time to hit the beach again after this adventure….
Tuesday went much smoother, as we booked a snorkeling trip through Eco Snorkeling off Pinel Island. Here, I got over myself and faced one of my major fears: open waters and what swims in them. No sharks, but plenty of brain coral and sergeant major fish.
Doh! During my first draft of this blog, I completely omitted a perhaps once in a lifetime adventure: Maho Beach. It’s a small strip of white sand at one end of the Princess Julianna International Airport runway. So visitors can watch and feel planes landing and departing. We hung out there just before returning the rental car and boarding the plane ourselves.
Click here to see perhaps the very incident that prompted the construction of this sign. *WARNING* “Severe physical harm” does happen in this video. You’ll recognize the fall as a “scorpion” if you watch MTV’s Ridiculousness. Notice the smart people head towards the water during take-off. By the way, we did not catch ultra-cool videos of the planes coming, as it was mostly smaller ones. We missed the massive jet taking off by about 15 minutes, as we had to return the car to Hertz, located along the runway. Even being beside the planes was a jolting experience.
I did learn a few things about traveling on Saint Martin:
-Bring U.S. dollars. It’s just easier that way instead of converting to Euros. Most restaurants and activities accepted dollars anyway. Dollars are preferred on the Dutch Side of the island.
-French or French Caribbean chefs are extremely offended if a dish is returned to them, even if the expensive dish is not up to par with the customer’s desires or not what the customer ordered. So offended was this chef that she stepped out of the kitchen to glare at us after we dined.
-The city of Phillipsburg is a ghost town on Sunday. Don’t even bother going, unless you want to dine on great food at Pineapple Pete. Seriously, these were some of the best ribs we’ve ever enjoyed, and we Americans know ribs. Our waiter explained that Phillipsburg, which is known for shopping is mostly closed on Sundays, but also mostly caters to the cruise ships.
-Speaking of cruise ships, if you want to relax quietly on the beach or during your outings, make sure you visit Saint Martin/Sint Maarten during the weekend. Otherwise, the beaches become crowded with cruise ship passengers. As did the Butterfly Farm during our second visit there. Most passengers are fine and also want to relax instead of being herded onto buses. But some overdo things, like having their hair ironed/curled and make-up perfect to venture onto an extremely humid island. I wanted to rip one woman’s fake eye lashes off her face, especially since her kid crippled a butterfly when she grabbed it incorrectly. Me, I wanted a vacation from make-up and hair ironing.
Overall, Saint Martin was amazing. A few frustrations driving around the island, but there is a lot to do. And dining out can be costly. I agree with Trip Advisor writers who say to visit a market/grocery store to buy lunch and snack items. The La Plantation is a beautiful place to stay. The beaches boast warm waters and refreshing waters and velvety sand.
Yet with all this said, I’m thankful and glad to be back home with my cat.