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St. Martin is one of our favorite islands. It is a small enough island that you can easily drive across it within 30 minutes, yet it has a variety of attractions between the Dutch and the French sides. This was our second extended visit. This trip we stayed in the Simpson Bay area.

It is nice coming back to an island that you have been to previously -- feeling like you know your way around. A big change since our last stay, was the new swing bridge that connects from the airport road to the road going to Marigot. We used it often. There are multiple pictures of it below.

  1. Getting there
  2. Simpson Bay Marina
  3. Atrium
  4. Exploring St. Martin - part #1
  5. Exploring St. Martin - part #2
  6. Recommendations
 

Getting there

I enjoy tracking our flight progress against things I can identify on the ground. The landmarks in New Jersey are pretty easy, but those in the Caribbean Islands I usually have to look up. I actually learned a lot about Anegada this flight [including the fact that it existed].




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Simpson Bay Marina

Our first few nights were at the Simpson Bat Marina. We had stayed here back when it was the Pelican Resort. We had a great room in the new building facing the bay and very convenient to the pool. During our visit, we made several stops of the Buccaneer Beach Bar, right next door.


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Atrium

We spent the majority of our time on the island while staying at the Atrium. The Atrium is an old condo, which has the advantage of having very large rooms and balconies. We thoroughly enjoyed our condo up on the 6th floor overlooking Simpson Bay! Another nice aspect of St. Martin is the prevalence of well stocked grocery and liquor stores. We took advantage of both! Several within easy walking distance. The 'owner reception' on Monday evening offered a good spread of munchie food and some powerful rum punch [it catches up to you later!].





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Exploring St. Martin - part #1

Having stayed on the island before I was very comfortable driving around. We spent time in both Marigot, the French capital as well as Philipsburg, the Dutch capital. We picked a day to visit Philipsburg when only two cruise ships were in port. There can be as many as six, which can make the downtown area pretty crowded. We especially enjoyed the market in Marigot and got there early one day to get some fresh lobster and conch. They also have a good selection of fresh fish. The big market days are Wednesday and Saturday.










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Exploring St. Martin - part #2

This is the second part of our week. We had never been to Ilet Pinel, so wanted to give it a try. We hiked around the island [hint: if you plan to do this, have good shoes] and replenished our liquids at the Yellow Beach restaurant. We went to Anse Marcel the check out the beach but it was a little too quiet for us. We did like Friar's Bay, although there was not much snorkeling there to speak of.











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Recommendations

Our two cents on St. Martin beaches, food, and places to eat.

Beaches:

We made an effort to check out several beaches that we had not visited before. We were not disappointed. Here are several that we liked:

  1. Orient Beach -- by far our favorite beach for both the general ambiance and the snorkeling
  2. Dawn Beach -- some good snorkeling once you get passed the seaweed. Snorkeling highlights included a stingray and several cuttlefish.
  3. Friar's Bay -- a nice quiet beach that did not seem too crowded. Easy to get to by road, good parking, and with two beach restaurants.
  4. Simpson Bay Beach -- long stretches of sand, right next to airport. Easy to get to.
  5. Ilet Pinel -- great beach and two restaurants. You need to take a small ferry to get there -- $6 each way. If you hike around the island, wear good shoes. The Marine Preserve was a bit of a disappointment. We saw more sea life at Orient and Dawn beaches.
  6. Le Galion -- Looks like they are beginning to develop the area more. Very calm waters up by the restaurant.

Restaurants:

Never had a bad meal on the island. Just on more thing we like about it -- St. Martin is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Buccaneer Beach Bar -- Great Simpson Bay location, ambiance, good food, and occasional live music. Share a table and meet other travellers.
  2. Panlaan Thai on the Bay -- Excellent food in a waterfont setting. Check the map for location, because you can't see it from the road.
  3. Beirut Restaurant -- Right on the main Simpson Bay strip. Great food and service.
  4. Spiga Italian Restaurant -- One of Grand Case's finest. We thoroughly enjoyed everything we had here.
  5. Talk of the Town - Lolo -- One of our favorite lolos -- located in Grand Case

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