Gambit and I were in St Maarten in 2008. During Hurricane Omar. We visited the island with Gambit’s parents and stayed at the Royal Palm Beach Resort (I think – I mean, it was almost 10 years ago!).
What I did remember from the trip, apart from buying a lot of ice cream, watching the hurricane come in overnight washing away the beach bar and our private beach, getting caught out in a heavy storm where a local Domino Pizza driver was kind enough to offer us a lift back to the resort, was the local ‘buses’. These ‘buses’ weren’t the typical buses, in fact, they were just someone’s dumpy van (people carrier) which had a sign on the windscreen telling you where they were going. I remember it was dirty cheap to hop on and off these ‘buses’ and decided we should do this instead of paying for local taxis or tours which were at least 100% more.
This time, we visited the island with our new Welsh friends. The weather was hot, humid, and sunny.
When we got off the ship, we entered a very nicely built port which had a lot of shops. We caught a taxi to Downtown Philipsburg where there was shopping and connecting tours, taxis, buses.
Before popping into a ‘bus’ to Marigot – on the French side of the island, we walked along the esplanade where we couldn’t walk 10 meters without being stopped by a local wanting us to hire beach chairs, umbrellas, etc from them. As we weren’t interested in sitting on the beach just then, we said we’d be back later on.
We were also approached by a French girl asking for donations for a local animal charity which raises money to help feed and treat local stray cats and dogs. Our Welsh friend donated $5 but I was a bit more dubious at first.
I wasn’t sure if it was a true charity but when the French girl escorted us to meet a puppy and a kitten which were up for adoption, the charity did seem legit.
I later learnt that the French girl lived in Sydney for two years and she was volunteering for this animal charity for two days that week with other people from her yoga teacher course. She immediately made me think of Frenchie (animal charity, yoga, French).
We look the local ‘bus’ to Marigot. The bus cost $2 per person. Once we arrived at Marigot, we headed to Sarafina café for some French pastries. Gambit and I got a vanilla macroon, almond croissant and a chocolate eclair.
After we ate everything, we popped into a local shopping mall before heading back on a ‘bus’ back to Philipsburg.
Great Bay Beach, Philipsburg
We went back to the beach we walked along that morning and got four beach chairs + two umbrellas for $20. We hung out on the beach, enjoying the warm weather and dipping into the coolish water before grabbing our things and doing some shopping.
Our Welsh friends bought a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses and Gambit and I bought some ridiculously cheap alcohol. One liter of local coconut rum (I was going to get Malibu but thought we’d try something local) and one liter of Smirnoff for $15. What the…???!?! How is everyone not drunk on this island???
St Maarten summary
I thought it was nice to see the island again but in a different way. It was nice to know some things were similar but to also enjoy it while earning the USD ha ha