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“Had A Blast! The Highlight Of Our Trip!”
Review of Vela St Martin

Vela St Martin
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Had A Blast! The Highlight Of Our Trip!”
Reviewed October 25, 2012

My fiance and I had been wanting to take sailing lessons and we saw these nice Hobie Cats along the beach on Orient Bay. We walked into the beach shack next to them and we asked the person there if there was anybody who could give us some lessons. They said the shop was re-opening up next week for the season but that he would talk to their sailing instructor to see if he was available. Lucky for us Tom was good to go.

They suggested a 3 hour trip going to Tintamar island then to Pinell island for lunch all on the Hobie Cat with all three of us. Tom would give us lessons on the way.

Tintamar is an incredibly beautiful uninhabited island and preserve. It took us about an hour to get there. Tom is an excellent instructor. He was explaining all the sailing maneuvers in both French and English. My fiance is French and I am American. He had a calm and steady style which my fiance appreciated. He let us do most of the sailing under his watchful eye. He was very professional while being fun and easy going at the same time.

We landed on Tintamar which is stunningly beautiful. Crystal clear water, sea turtles, baby sharks. The sand was like flour. It does not get any better than that. That fantasy you have in your head about a beautiful uninhabited Caribbean island? It is right there at Tintamar for real. And how fun to just cruise up on the beach on a Hobie Cat!

After spending some time on the island it was time to sail to Pinell. Again Tom let us do the sailing coaching us all the way. Pinell is a small island just a few hundred meters from the coast of Orient Bay. They have a beachside restaurant with tables right in the water. You can pick out your live lobsters to have cooked right from your water table while you are drinking rose. It was really stressful LOL!

Tom left us on the island for about 1/2 hour then took us on our last leg of the journey back to Orient Bay. After the sail he wrote out all the sailing terms for us so we could review. He also gave us a list of other cool places to visit on the island.

We had an absolute blast, got in some good sailing , and saw some beautiful sites. Do not miss this trip if you are in Orient Bay or even anywhere in St. Martin. I highly recommend Tom as a sailing instructor and guide. We have taken sailing lessons in the States and there was no comparison. We had more fun and learned more with Tom. We can't wait to get back and do it again!

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank MatthewM954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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17 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“GREAT FUN - LEARN TO WINDSURF!”
Reviewed July 31, 2012

We had a 1 week couples package for our 25th wedding anniversary. The friendly staff got us set up with the right gear and by the end of the 3rd day for me and 5th day for my lovely wife we were able to windsurf to all points of sail, tack and jibe around the beautiful Orient Bay in wind up to 14 knots and a swell of 18 inches.. The teaching was expert and low key. The range of equipment was suitable for us as novices and up to large sails and fun boards with harnesses for experts. We did not try kite sailing. We stayed at the Alamanda Resort which is about 30 yards from the beach and a few minute walk along the beach west of the Vela facility.

Visited July 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Tom M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
X
Level Contributor
77 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“St Martin island tour”
Reviewed May 27, 2012

We arrived to St Martin by ferry boat from Anguilla using the public ferry which was very quick and well organized. Taxi service is right at the dock and our transportation to our hotel was provided by a local company Carline Taxi Service. She was so pleasant and efficient we decided to hire her to take us on a tour of the two sides of the island. It was fabulous. We went in, around and through mountain roads and passage ways. We saw the famous landing strip for the jumbo jets at the airport and stopped at the also famous Orient beach were clothing is optional. She is a native of the island and we were quite surprised at how much there was to see that we knew absolutely nothing about. I would highly recommend seeing the island this way and would recommend Carline as honest and very reasonable fare. We also found a great jewlery shop downtown during our tour, Can't wait to go back.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank IslandGetaways
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Beware!”
Reviewed April 20, 2012

Rented a Hobie Cat Sailboat for one hour, about US $58. After 15 minutes out and getting used to this boat's rigging, sucessfully jibing, a windsurfer got very close. The manager yelled for me to come in, which I did thinking he wanted to give me advice. Instread, he ordered me off the cat and said I didn't know how to sail it (despite my many years of experience and successful Hobie sails before). Ok, he is entitled to his opinion and to ask me to return his boat, even if I disagree.. But THEN he tells me the hour's fee is forfeited in full because the contract says he can cancel and keep the money!! I offerred to split 50-50 but he says no, and keeps the full $58. Note: he did not lose a sale, because it was the end of day and there was no next customer who he could have rented to for the hour. So BEWARE you are at the risk of the sole discretion of the operator to cancel your sail ("sale") and take all your money.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank BeachBoy54NewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
demanez e, Manager at Vela St Martin, responded to this review, July 27, 2012
Hey there, my name's Tom, the one that yelled at you..because it was too windy for me to whisper, right?
Well, I feel you got offensed because I judged you could not manage the moderate wind, and I would like you to know it is not always easy for me to analyse whether or not people are experienced enough to sail toward the day's conditions just on listening to the customer speach.. it has been 4 years now that I manage a sailing station, and 9 as an instructor. I sincerly believe I am fair, and I do not try to scam any money whatsoever. If I knew your level of competence,I wouldn't let you out as it was not easy conditions and maybe different from what you've exerienced so far..As you mentioned it in your comment, you almost hit a windsurfer which is definetly enough for me to notice your lack of control, and who knows, maybe did I save you a rescue, a broken item or even worst..
We do offer a full range of options such as "the refresher" (5euros extra for a 10' instructor guidance) or a lesson (10 euros extra) & we make it cheap so that people do not hesitate and risk anything ..
I'd like to add that there is no such thing as a driver license when it comes to sail, so we have to deal with different knowledges from different people and we try to make the best of it; safety is the limit though.As for the beware title, I wish you knew how much we get tipped day after day because clients got for more than just their money!!
On the bottomline,I look forward for any feedback & if I know no one is perfect, I assure you you'll get to know us if you ever come back as I am confident in our good will!!
kind regards
*wind adventures* manager ToM
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Windsurfing in a different, challenging spot”
Reviewed February 21, 2012

The guys at Vela are helpful and nice . . . But there is not a lot of equipment, and many of the boards have all of the "grip" worn off, so we slid right off! There is significant shore break, and big wind shadows from two big off shore islands. The blue water and swells are fun to sail, but probably not the best place for less than advanced windsurfers.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
Thank Jmwindsurf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
demanez e, Manager at Vela St Martin, responded to this review, September 5, 2014
Hi,
The center has more than 35 boards (25 shortboards from 84 liters to 150 liters), JP australia and Neil Pryde riggs (50 riggs from 1.5 sqm to 9.5 sqm). Most of our sails are riggs (25), due to lack of space, we have to rigg sizes according to the wind conditions. Sorry if you had a bad grip, just let us know we would have changed it (all our booms are from the year, sometime it can quickly be destroyed by a beginner who doesn't pay attention to the gear). We do have some gear for beginners at Club Orient, a flat water spot on the right of Orient bay, no shorebreak at all, perfect to learn beach start and waterstart. Windy regards Emmanuel
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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