Not-So-Urban Adventures on the Island of Saint Martin

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:

At the Butterfly Farm, I held a newly hatched beauty that licked the salt off my skin.

At the Butterfly Farm, I held a newly hatched beauty that licked the salt off my skin.

The boy held an Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world. I was a bit scared of this fella.

s The boy held an Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world. I was a bit scared of this fella.

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.

Getting a little too adventurous on an narrow train in Saint Martin. I believe we went bushwhacking instead of hiking....

Getting a little too adventurous on an narrow train in Saint Martin. I believe we went bushwhacking instead of hiking….

It was time to hit the beach again after this adventure….

Here's the lovely wrap I got at the Butterfly Farm.

Here’s the lovely wrap I got at the Butterfly Farm.

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.


Our guide, Isabelle, said that if you don't see sergeant major fish, you have your eyes closed.

Our guide, Isabelle, said that if you don’t see sergeant major fish, you have your eyes closed.

Look, look, look! A hawk-nosed sea turtle (the only marine animal I really wanted to spot on this adventure).

Look, look, look! A hawk-nosed sea turtle (the only marine animal I really wanted to spot on this adventure).

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.


4 thoughts on “Not-So-Urban Adventures on the Island of Saint Martin

  1. Just got back from Florida myself.
    Clean but boring beaches. Not much
    to say – How’d you get out to San
    Martin? Boat, plane?

    I was gone for a week and we
    hired someone to house sit.
    Little did I know the girl was
    afraid of lizards – she took care
    of ozzy though, even picking
    him up when he climbed on top
    of the cabinet and couldn’t get
    down – she faced her fears.

    butterflies mostly live only to
    reproduce – they are essentially
    flying flowers –

    My favorites are hornworm
    hawk moths – they have large
    bodies and resemble humming
    birds in flight.

    Ever hear of wind jammer?
    Their cruises aboard vintage
    sailing ships that are crewed
    by their passengers –

    You don’t have to swab the
    decks You get to!

    Sometimes I wish I could
    stick the cruse crowd on
    one of those – they should
    be press ganged – builds
    character. 😉

    • I hope you had fun in the Sunshine State! Reading your reply makes me miss our iguana, Zuke. My hubby saw baby ones on Pinel Island, and a bigger iguana hiding in the bushes, but he could not get a clear shot of her. A friend of ours took care of our cat while we were gone. To answer your question, we flew down. Many people thought we were taking a cruise, but we prefer to park ourselves and relax. Besides, the cruise ship docked at Saint Martin was a freakin’ floating Metropolis. It was kind of scary. I realized I forgot to add pictures and a short tale about Maho Beach in my first draft, so I just edited my post.

      • Cruise ships are a bit scary – but not as scary
        as companies that supposedly run them, they
        seldom pay taxes and the people they employ
        are often not subject to laws meant to guarantee
        passenger or job safety – they can be giant floating loopholes – which is why they are so lucrative. Much like river boat casinos. I find them
        fascinating – a lot can happen at sea,
        when no one is looking. 😉

        There is a beautiful resort in my home town
        that is a river boat – built with a working
        engine that was never intended to run –
        all because state gambling laws are too
        hard to enforce on active water ways –
        imagine having to hold up boat traffic
        to check every one –

        Any who – if a cruise line is registered to
        a country with a stable government it is
        probably okay – but they can be some
        devious characters . . . you don’t want
        want to be on one of those ships when
        the sewage system fails –

        thanks for the tip I see what else you have
        posted – The Caribbean is a interesting place.
        full of interesting animals –

        Florida was fun enough – but we were constantly
        getting buzzed by a giant speed boat filled with what appeared to be the cast of jersey shore – I
        called it the S.S Dooshe. 😉

        Some one else had a period sailing ship we referred to as the Nina – also came dangerously close the beach – naturally – it had ads on the
        sails – the ocean was also littered with giant tub
        toys ancored to the sand bars – you could rent
        them for fifty bucks – but if you didn’t pay some
        guy in a jet ski would tell you get off. Then the
        life guard told him to stop riding his jet ski so
        close to the swimmers and he was forced to
        watch as the kids enjoyed the giant booies
        for free.

        I did get to climb around in a working lighthouse –
        and see one of the best collections of native
        American artifacts – (I want to make myself a
        bow drill, and a pump drill! I got to work both
        but unfortunately – they didn’t sell them in the
        gift shop. 😦

        My friends went shopping – and to movies – but
        I’ve always been baffeled by people who will do
        the same things on vacation they could do at home.

  2. I totally forgot that plane thing was in San Martine!
    I can believe you were actually there! The thing is
    a Darwin award waiting to happen – I hear there is
    a place in England where planes cross an intersection –
    once there was an accident – involving a twenty car
    pile up that included a plane – weird things happen
    when people are forced to deal with constricted

    Some one got thrown by a plane in the movie Pushing
    Ten – (wanted to see what weight turbulence felt like)
    Probably not a smart move considering how impressionable people are – 😀

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