Friday, June 6, 2014

Vacation, St. Martin: His, Mine and Ours... Beautiful Beaches

There are 37 beaches on the island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin and the choices are endless. St. Martin is blessed to have the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other!  It is literally possible to go to a beach and be the only person there - or be one of the few - maybe because the whole island is only 37 square miles.  That's a beach per square mile!  Of course, we have come to have our favorites, but we've made it a goal to try to get to one new beach on each trip to see if we should add it into our rotation.

I'm just going to tell you up front that the new beach this trip was such a disaster that I didn't take one picture, nor did we stay there any longer than to look at it and leave (#14 on the map if you click on that link up there).  I had heard raves about it but I guess those folks don't like the things I like in a good Caribbean beach.  Still, we managed to get to 5 beaches this trip, so not bad!

The very first beach we visited was Grand Case Beach (#12 on the map).  The friend we were staying with showed us a little alley that led to a place where you could get on the beach without going into the village or near a restaurant. We stayed for a couple hours and it was just a magnificent day.

Looking toward Grand Case Beach Club, which is where we stay if we stay in a hotel As you can see, there is no one on the beach!

Looking towards the Village of Grand Case.  The beach goes all the way around that curve past the end of this photo.

Look how clear the water is!

The next beach we visited was Petite Plage, which is on the other side of the Beach Club (#13 on the map).  Honestly, this is "our" favorite beach.  Though the Beach Club water sports people rent chairs there, all beaches in St. Martin are free entry and open to the public.  While we rented chairs our first visit - because we stayed for most of the day - we went back several times for a couple hours at a time and used some bag chairs that our friends had.  We LOVE this beach!

We had lunch at Sunset Cafe (where the sunset shots I previously showed you were taken) - followed by rum of course lol!  Over Mr. Helen's shoulder you can see Creole Rock which is a well known landmark on the island.  Boats and Rhino Riders (which are like jet skis with floatation devices around them) take snorkeling trips out there, and for us, it's also where our friend's father and son's ashes were spread.

It was a really, really hard day on me... can you see the four Rhino Riders heading for the rock?

One of the days towards the end of the trip when it rained a bit, the sun suddenly came out so we dashed over to Petite Plage.  As we sat there we watched a storm move across Anguilla into the open ocean.  Pretty amazing as it stayed sunny where we were.

The next beach we visited was Mullet Bay (#36 on the map).  To get to it you have to drive through the golf course and those who know go - it's usually busy. There is good snorkeling here, along with a good rib shack.  It's a fun beach because it's on the Dutch side near the airport and you can spend the day watching airplanes come in.  Very often large sailing excursions pull in here and let the people off to swim for a bit. This is the only photo I took for some reason.  The building in the background is one of the timeshare places on Sint Maarten.

On our anniversary we went to Le Galion (#23 on the map).  This is known as the "Kid's Beach" because it has super calm water.  It's also very shallow you can walk out forever and not get over your head.  There is one beach bar and chair rental but we took our friends chairs and used a palm tree for shade. We carried lunch in a cooler because we were going out for a fancy French dinner later on. 

When we got there this guy was moving seaweed

We also saw this and suddenly realized it was a Caribbean swimming pool! It's basically big square floats in the ocean but they do have lane markers! Later, a school bus came full of kids - I guess swimming is part of the curriculum.  Of course, Mr. Helen had to go check it out - he loves kids.

At one time there was a beautiful resort here, but now there are only ruins.  When Hurricane Luis came through in 1995 it destroyed the resort and it has never been rebuilt.  There are other places like this on the island - so sad.

 When you look out from the shore, you can see where the ocean gets rough yet by the time it pulls into Le Gallion it calms down.

 I went for a walk to take the ruins photos and Mr. Helen was very busy!

 We saw our first ever ice cream truck!  This truck was serving up actual scoops of ice cream.  Next time hopefully I won't be going out to dinner and I'm getting one.

Next up was Orient Bay (#21 on the map).  Orient is the largest beach on the island, located on the French side. It is so big, it is broken up into smaller named areas.  We always go to Kakao, but if you like you could go to Bikini, Coco, Kontiki, Waikiki, or should you choose, at the very end is the "Naturist" beach called Club Orient. While topless is accepted on any beach on the French side, you can let it all hang out at Club Orient. Each of these beaches has their own restaurant, gift shop and rents chairs and umbrellas. This is also the beach where the cruise ship excursions come, so over the years we've learned to look up the cruise ship schedule and go on days when no ships are on island as it's a much nicer experience. Also, this is where you will see the most vendors walking up and down. Orient Bay is Mr. Helen's favorite beach!  So much so that we came back for his birthday, even though it was cloudy all day and we got chased off the beach by a shower. (I like this beach too because this is where I got my beautiful ankle bracelet lol!)

Now you can see how the dark cloudy days even change the color of the water.  Also the storm the night before washed up seaweed.  Guess who was clearing it later?  The same guy at Le Galion!  Maybe he has the only small tractor on the French side?

Last but not least, MY favorite beach, Baie Rouge ( #3 on the map).  So called because the sand here looks red compared to other beaches on the island.  We had tried to find this beach and kept missing the entrance.  Then Little Helen went to St. Martin to visit a friend and raved about the beach and also explained sort of how to find it.  When we went in 2012 for our 20th I was determined to find it and did!  In one visit, it literally became my favorite beach on the island.

There are two beach bars on this beach - Gus' and Raymond's.  They vie quite hard for your business, but we prefer Chez Raymond.

  I had the Raymond Special which is 6 liquors 7 fruits whirled into frozen deliciousness! Behold the whirl master...

This beach is also known for snorkeling, but honestly the water over by this private residence is so clear you can literally look down in the water and see the fish!

See?  I told you my beautiful bathing suit would match the water!

I hope you have enjoyed seeing our wonderful, tropical, Caribbean vacation to St. Martin.  Maybe now you know why it's my happy place!  Next week, back to blogging about nothing (remember that episode of Seinfeld)?


  1. How absolutely gorgeous. No wonder you are so happy there :D

    1. Honestly the beach in general is my happy place, but these beaches are my ECSTATICALLY Happy Place.

  2. I have feel the breeze and smell the sunscreen from just looking at these gorgeous photos!

  3. The beaches are so lovely!!! But I'm in awe of that floating swimming pool. Whoever came up with that idea is a genius - way to make perfect use of your natural resources!

    1. I was in awe of that thing too, especially when I got up close and saw the lane numbers!

  4. I got pulled in an under toe once in the ocean in the outer banks of North Carolina - I think my lack of swimming skills actually saved me and spilled me out 100 yards down the beach.

    I've never gone more than my ankles in the ocean since then, but I think in clear water like that I would!

    Happy Place indeed! Thanks for sharing it with us Helen!

  5. I've never witnessed such beauty in person. Thank you for taking me there via your experience. Breathtaking, Helen.

  6. I definitely enjoyed the posts about the trip, this last one is the perfect ending for the posts about your trip. Beautiful pics!

    It's obvious that part of the island formerly belong to the Netherlands. I see a Heineken beer in a pic twice :)

    1. Heineken beer or one of the Caribbean ones like Carib are everywhere! And inexpensive compared to what we pay in the USA. One thing though, the beers there are 8 oz. and the beers here are 12 oz. Sigh, I guess everything has to be bigger in the USA.