Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Caribbean Island Hopping Via St Maarten/St Martin

The two nation island of Dutch St Maarten and French St Martin offer visitors easy access for day trips to other Caribbean destinations. 

The islands of Anguilla, Saba, St Eustatius and St Barths are all easily reached by ferry or small plane.  

Anguilla boasts some of the most beautiful white powder sand beaches surrounded by deep blue skies, and aquamarine seas lined with palm trees/sea grapes. The narrow island was named for its shape from the French word anguille which means eel

Aside from the world class beaches, exceptional resorts, horseback beach rides, and scuba diving, Anguilla offers fine dining. On every visitor's list is the islands famous sweet, tender spiny lobster which the locals call crayfish. 

Taking the ferry from Marigot, St Martin takes about 20 minutes, and is far more economical than flying.  Make sure to take a swin suit, and take an island tour -  the majority of drivers at the ferry terminal will be happy to act as your guide, and lead you to the crayfish. (ˆ◡ˆ) 

Saba is a green volcanic mountain island which rocky cliffs propel straight up from the sea. This tiny Dutch Caribbean island is known as the "Unspoiled Queen" of the Caribbean. 

Unlike other islands in the region you will not find fabulous beaches - this is an island for world class scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking the rain forest which takes you up to over 2,800 feet into the clouds.   

The hillsides are dotted with old Caribbean-style cottages painted white with gingerbread, green shutters and red/orange roofs. The island is extremely clean, and each home is neatly landscaped with lovely gardens. 

There is only one road which runs through the island mountain, and one of the islands distinctions is the world's shortest runways. Yes that tiny strip below is where planes land!

The airport is located on a cliff, and only a few pilots are licensed to fly into the island. The flight into Saba is a rather hair-raising experience. I prefer the ferry service which sails out of St Martin. Check schedule here

Photo by Carrie Gibson The tiny Dutch island of St Eustatius (also known as Statia) was the first international recognition of American independence in 1776. 

Although tiny in size, St Eustatius was known in the 17th and 18th century as the Emporium of the Western World and the Golden Rock. The island's harbor was central to the commerce flowing between Europe and America. This all changed after the firing of an 11-gun salute to U.S. independence. Soon after Great Britain seized the islands warehouses, merchant goods and literally destroyed the island's economy. 

Statia attracts divers, hikers, and history buffs with its well preserved early century historical sites. Unfortunately there is no scheduled ferry service, however there are daily flights via St Martin. 

St. Barthélemy, also called St Barth or St Barts is the eptitone of French Culture in the Caribbean. Here you will find the latest European and American high end fashions, haute cuisine, and if you are lucky perhaps run into a favorite celebrity. 

The terrain is hilly and rocky, however the coastline is lined with fabulous beaches, along with bays and coves called anses. 

The island has a vibrant nightlife, and the favorite sport is windsurfing. People watching is another favorite pastime, and there's no better place than Baie de St Jean where the worlds finest yachts dock. 

The ferry ride from St Martin takes about 40 minutes versus a 10 minute flight. Check both rates - often there is a small difference in price. 

St Maarten/St Martin - Of course there is plenty to keep you busy in the twin island nation. There is no easier place in the Caribbean to experience two completely cultures. The border is seamless, and you can go back and forth enjoying both cultures with ease.  

The Dutch side of St Maarten offers great shopping, lots of world class casinos, and beaches. Dutch culture is reflected in the street signs, names and unique souvenirs such as wooden shoes, windmills, and delft china. 

This side of the island has over 35 beaches, with one of the more unique (Maho Bay) located right on the end of the main airport. No doubt you have seen images of beach goers getting sand blasted by the commercial jets as they come in for landing.  

While St Martin is unmistakably French in its language, customs and food, travelers will find a comfortable reception for those who do not speak the language. The cuisine is excellent, along with many fine beaches, unique lodging, and a variety of chic boutiques offering fine imported goods. 

Happy Travels,

No comments:

Post a Comment