Thursday, May 1, 2008

Laurie G. - More St Martin...

Here is French Marigot in St Martin viewed from the water. It is a beautiful place to walk, dine, or shop. The people a quite friendly and the café scene is alive and well. You can see and tour the old fort that guards the city. As much as I love the beaches and beach bar/restaurants this small Caribbean city deserves a visit. Stroll along the waterfront and café-hop down the main street. The city is quite lively most nights with locals and tourists alike. The shopping bazaar can be a lot of fun too. There are multiple marinas at Marigot and some quite impressive yachts to say the least. One of the marinas is hidden from view by buildings and set quite deep into the tiny capital. This amazing protected marina is surrounded by restaurants and a few shops. It is an amazing place to dine and stroll among the yachts which are backed right up to the dock; you are one step form going onto any of them. There are luxury yachts, fishing charters, and tour boats all beautifully lined up in this small marina. The outdoor bar/restaurant patios are usually full and lively. La Belle Époque seems to attract the most locals and once you try their pizza you too will know why.

Not every yachts stays within the confines of the marina. We had this lovely boat anchored offshore from our hotel and would see it at Orient beach during the days. My husband figured they liked my Malibu Strings bikinis so much that they had figured out how to follow us. At night this boat became a floating disco and from the sounds of things much fun was being had for the better part of the night. Funny how quite the yacht would be in the morning though ;^>

One morning we went to our deck for breakfast and saw this catamaran. My husband joked it was the dinghy from the yacht coming to fetch me for the day. That or some late night reveler was going to have serious explaining to do! Lucky for him this sign post cluster just up the beach might point him in the right direction. Who knew the Taj Mahal was so nearby?

As you can see everyone loves the beach at sunset to relax, enjoy the cooling of the day, and enjoy such memorable views.

This beach has a beautiful view of Anguilla and has calm waters all day long. It is just a short walk from Grand Case and the location of Sunset Café. Not to be confused with the Sunset Bar, the café is a quiet location and a wonderful spot to wind down and sip a quiet romantic drink without the crowds.

Another great place to visit is Pine Island. It is a short 500 yard boat ride leaving and is a paradise within St Martin’s paradise. Amazingly calm water with a great view back to St Martin. Two beaches and two amazing restaurants make for a great day trip (bring cash, they have no credit card machines). You can stand at the tip of this little island and look down both rows of umbrellas at the same time, this little island actually comes to a point is shallow water. Avoid the weekend unless you really want to meet the locals (and their children).

A good reason to rent a car is to drive up above Orient Beach for this view! This isn’t the only great vantage point either; you’ll be blown away at the heights on this island and the views that come with such amazing peaks. You can see Pinel Island in the right side picture with some boats anchored in front.

Another really nice aspect of St Martin is how many beaches have bars, restaurants, and beach chair/umbrella service. Too bad it the sea was too rough to spend the beach day here at Baie Rouge, this place looked fun and is highly recommended some of the other Malibu Strings girls!

No matter which way you look at St Martin, it’s all about the Beach!

…from Sunset Beach Bars, to big screen football outdoors, to heartwarming sunsets!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kimmy - Sint Maarten

St. Martin, or Sint Maarten…This tiny island is the smallest land mass shared by two countries…France, and The Netherlands…

There are no check points when you travel from the Dutch side to the French side of the Island…The Dutch side seems more American, and the French side is more European.…Electricity on the Dutch side is 110v…on the French it is 220v…If you want US $$ which are accepted all over the Island you should go to the Dutch side to an ATM…you will find plenty of them.

Most people either visit briefly, off one of the many cruise ships that stop at the Island for the day, or fly into Princess Julianna airport, which was recently expanded and renovated with a new terminal…expansion of the runway is underway…Speaking of runway…one of the attractions on the island is going to Maho beach and Sunset Beach Bar…which are located at the end of the runway…You can listen to the radio traffic between the pilot, and tower, then watch up close, and personal as the planes come, and go…most spectacular of which are the 747’s screaming overhead…

Some adventurous souls try to hang on to the chain link fence while the planes run up the engines for take off…I’ve done this myself…The hot jet wash and sand pelting you…quite a rush… I have seen a few less hearty souls take a tumble when they fail to hold tight… I know it sounds crazy…but it’s great entertainment…

Maho has a lot to offer…Casinos, Fine restaurants, Night clubs, and shopping…
Some of my favorites...

After a day on the beach we often stop at Sunset beach bar for cocktails, and a snack…They usually have local entertainment, and topless women drink free…yes I have had my share of free drinks…They also have live entertainment that goes into the night as well as a Bikini contest for those who dare…and a best physique for the guys…

Bamboo Bernies, restaurant, bar, night club, great sushi…Bliss, restaurant, bar, night club, they have a small pool too…very nice for lounging an afternoon away…

Cheri’s café is a must for first timers, the show hasn’t changed since our first time in 94, but you really should do it once…you’re sure to have a good time…Casino Royale…

The Q club which was featured in Wild on with Brooke Burke a while back…is a dance club above the casino…open late, and only on the weekends…and of course Sopranos piano bar which has great entertainers, usually for a month at a time…last time we had the pleasure of Heather Sullivan’s talents for our entire four week stay…We even had the good fortune to have Luciano drop by while he was on island for a concert, and do a few songs with Heather…Luciano is said to be the new Bob Marley…

Heather will be back in June 08…It’s best to grab the weekly entertainment guide to know what’s going on, and on which night it’s happening…There’s also the Platinum Room for adult entertainment.

Right next to Maho is the only golf course on the island…it is, or was part of the Mullet bay beach club, and resort…In 1995 Hurricane Luis damaged the resort, and it was never repaired…the story is someone took the money and ran…The golf course is still in operation although it is not the beauty it once was…and Mullet bay beach is still a nice beach…there are facilities and vendors for refreshments…

One thing you must know about the Island is the Bridge schedule…There are two draw bridges…one in Simpson Bay, and the other in Marigot…avoid driving near the bridges when they’re up, you will be stuck in your car for quite a while…you may as well be sitting at the bar, or on the beach, or whatever else you’d like to do…check the schedule…plan accordingly trust me…

Since we’re talking about cars and driving…you really need a car if you plan to enjoy the experience that is Sint Maarten…you can rent one pretty reasonably at the airport…they will negotiate…

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Laurie G. - St. Martin Fun

St Martin is a great place to vacation in the Caribbean and have a reasonable European experience at the same time. Legendary beaches of course and beaches where even your Malibu Strings might have you overdressed. And while Orient Beach is known for clothing optional you'll find the whole island, French or Dutch side, is quite open to skimpy swimwear. The nice thing is the attitude - enjoy the beach, the sun, the water, wear what you want or not and don't worry about it. A lot less staring occurs here than anywhere else we've been. That is until and if the cruise ship tour bus shows up, then just smile, wave and send some lucky gawker home with the best vacation photos he's ever taken (and possibly and angry/jealous wife?). Then enjoy your sunset on the beach while he's heading back to his cruise ship.

If you like good food and great dining, this is the place. We all know the French can cook; no doubt about it. Now take that culinary skill, influence it with local flavors, preserve that French flair for presentation, relax the atmosphere to island level while maintaining the French sophistication and you are going to have some of the best dining experiences of your life.

Not all the dining is so fancy. Outdoor barbeques are common, casual, cheap, and delicious.

Our favorite area for dining is Grand Case. A one way street lined with restaurants of all styles and price ranges. Restaurants on one side have dining rooms overlooking the beach; the other side tries to make up for lack of beach view with customer service and perhaps a few Euros cheaper.

You can't go wrong either way and every restaurant has their menu posted outside so you can stroll the street looking for that perfect mixture of ambiance and menu selection.

Plenty of restaurants will even give you a 1 Dollar to 1 Euro exchange if you pay cash, don’t be afraid to ask.

Beyond the beaches, St Martin has huge pitons that rise right up out of the ocean. The largest is Pic Paradis at 1,492 feet high. I haven’t yet taken in the view from the top but enjoy just looking up from the beach at what we call mountains where I come from.

Having a car in St Martin is well worth the expense and let’s you visit multiple beaches, dine on the French side one night, the Dutch side the next, or just take a drive and explore the island. The island is easy to navigate with just a tourist map. One beach we recently discovered for ourselves is named Le Galion Bay.

It has the calmest water, a beach restaurant, and chairs/umbrellas for rent. It’s also a learning place for windsurfing and kite boarding due to the calm water caused by the reef at the bay inlet where the reef stops the waves but lets the strong Caribbean trade winds flow through. It’s easy to spend the day watching kite boarders soar through the air across such calm water.

à tout à l'heure …

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stacie - St. Martin

My husband and I have traveled to St. Martin five or six times now. The island is owned half by the French and the other half by the Dutch, so the island has two distinct personalities. The French side has a more European flavor with fine restaurants, boutiques, pristine topless and clothing optional beaches. But be prepared to pay the price. The French side uses the Euro, and the current exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.47 us$. The Dutch side is more Americanized with lots of bars, fast food, more conservative beaches and a more outgoing nightlife. The Dutch Guilder is at a fixed rate with the US dollar so there is no devaluation.

We always stay at Le Flamboyant Hotel, on the French side at Baie Nettle. The hotel is located on Simpson Lagoon, the largest natural lagoon in the Caribbean. It is not necessary to speak French but it is helpful to have some knowledge of the language. Most of the French people we meet enjoy trying to help us speak their language better. A three minute drive from the hotel is Baie Rouge, one of our favorite beaches. This beach is very long and offers soft sand, blue surf and two local restaurants. All of the beaches on the French side are topless and a few (Baie Rouge & Orient) are clothing optional.

Just over the border on the Dutch side is our other favorite beach, Cupecoy. This is the only clothing optional beach on the Dutch side. Johnny and Danny offer drinks and cook the best barbeque chicken and ribs on the island.

After sunning in the mornings we usually head over to the Sunset Beach Bar. This unique beach bar is located at the end of the Queen Juliana Airport (SXM). 747’s and other jumbo jets pass just 50-75 feet over your head! Photographers flock to this bar to capture photos like none other in the world.

Since there are so many great restaurants in St. Martin, all-inclusive hotel packages are not recommended. Marigot (capital of the French side) has a beautiful marina with plenty of wonderful water-side dining and shopping. Grand Case is renowned for its fine French restaurants. Simpson Bay on the Dutch side offers a more relaxed, causal international dining experience. Our favorite is Bavaria, an authentic German restaurant; be sure to get the potato soup!

If you ever get tired of St. Martin, trips to Anguilla, St. Barts or Saba are only a 1-2 hour boat ride away.

Thanks for all the great emails when I post photos on Malibu Strings. I hope to have my new website up very soon. Until next time…

Malibu Stacie

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