My husband and I just returned from a much needed kid-free vacation to St. Martin. Let me get to the point...I loved the island. We stayed in Grande Case the french-side of the island. We stayed at a little two-bedroom beachfront apartment above the La California restaurant. We stayed from May 4th - May 11th...I am officially de-stressed and ready to make waffles for the kids, mop floors, and cook dinners. Wish I was back!
Let me first address the whole poverty issue. I just didn't see the level of poverty I have witnessed in Mexico. In Mexico there is dirty water, shacks, and just a level that is sad to see outside the elegant resorts. I have also been to the Bahamas and thought it was pretty bad and the islanders attitude stunk as well. I told my husband that I saw blonde-blue eyed french children and dark-skinned, brown-eyed children with afro hair playing together on the beach, running in the streets, and climbing trees together...all speaking the same language. They lived right next next store to one another. It just seemed to be that there was this huge mix of cultures. Anyways, the families black or white seemed well-spoken, not mention very kind and polite. I loved seeing them all in their school uniforms...all smiles and squeeky clean. There is a definite pride. We were treated well everywhere we went...from budget rent-a-car to the man who raked the beach everyday.
I heard about all the crime and was unsure of what we were up against. I know not to leave your stuff unattended in the car or on the beach. I mean it wasn't any different than here in Oklahoma. People leave the car running to warm it up on a cold morning, garage door opened, and guess what...the car gets stolen. Same goes with leaving your purse out. It's just common sense but I never felt threatened...certainly not in the day. We even sat out on the beach in Grande Case at night, in a lighted area...no problems.
I would never stroll outside our resort in Mexico at night. I didn't feel that way at all. Phillipsburg was a little rowdy and the main thing to watch out for was crazy drivers. Stay out of the roads!!! We just would say "single file", and form our line.
My favorite thing about St. Martin was the crystal blue waters and pristine beaches. We went to Orient beach, Mullet Bay, Happy Bay, Friar's beach, Baie Rouge, Cupecoy, and Grande Case. We liked Mullet Bay the best. It was so calm. It was like a gian swimming pool except the bottom was sand. There were boats in the bay with peole jumping off them. Just a a great carefree feeling. Watch out for the jelly fish...little bastards. Little stings but not bad enough to keep me out of the water. I think they were washed in from the storm. It rained alot! We even saw a tornado at sea, funnel cloud and all. We have never seen a funnel formation and we live in tornado alley. We go to the caribbean and see one from the beach...go figure. The beaches, IMO, are better than hawaii, lear. bahamas, and mexico. The water is just so clear. However, I love to snorkel and nothing compares to the snorkeling in Hawaii. I still snorkeled everyday and saw things I hadn't seen elsewhere, like huge starfish .
The worst was the traffic, crazy drivers on narrow roads, mosquitoes, and high prices to eat. We started just eating Subway for lunch. We ate out at La California and Il Nettuno in Grande Case. Let me tell you if you like authentic Italian food go to Il Nettuno. It was delicious and worth every cent. Dinner stared with brushetta and delicious rolls. Sipping chianti and watching the ships in the bay was great. We had lobster ravioli, chicken parmesan, veal, the best pasta. I had to stop eating because I felt sick but didn't want to b/c it was so good. La California has excellent pizzas that are large and are from 10 - 12 dollars. Two could share. They have great crepes as well...one is enough for two people. Dinner was delicious as well but we agreed we wish we would have discovered Il Nettuno on day one. Of course, I would have gained 20 pounds. We ate at the Wharf in Philipsburg...really bad. Our food tasted like roasted loofahs, salads that were the shredded taco lettuce...no flavor and over $40. No extras...that's why we liked Il Nettuno. It was a generous meal.
There are dogs everywhere. Some wild and some with collars. We agreed if we had to be a homeless dog we would want to be on St. Martin. There was tasty trash to eat everywhere or someone was feeding them scraps. Some looked pretty mange. On two diffrent occasions on two different beaches, collared dogs peed on my chair and once on my beach bag. I tattled on one and the other I just threw dirt at...problem solved. It is gross how they are crapping everywhere but no worse than my own backyard.
I could go on and on but we just had a great time. If anyone would like any info just ask!