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Who's been to St Martin?
Old 01-20-2016, 04:39 PM   #1
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Who's been to St Martin?

The Caribbean island, that is. Going there soon, and would appreciate suggestions from those who may have visited recently. We're staying on the beach on the Dutch side, hoping to rely on taxis for the few times we may want to wander. Ideas on restaurants, places to see (and avoid), anything at all are welcome. Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2016, 04:53 PM   #2
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I've visited both sides of the island, but only for a day during a cruise. It's definitely a place I would consider returning to. My impression was that infrastructure was better on the Dutch side.

You must go to Maho Beach to experience jets landing just meters above your head!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maho_Beach

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Old 01-20-2016, 04:58 PM   #3
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i was there and it was a dump, but maybe I am used to nicer places?
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Old 01-20-2016, 06:07 PM   #4
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We go every few years and have since the '80s.

We don't like the Dutch side because we find it too built up with all relatively new hotels and so on. Sort of like Miami with a longer flight but there are casinos, cruise ships and it caters more to Americans. That's just us though.

We love the French side as it's more ummmm...rural/rustic, less built up and more International in feel. It's where a lot of wealthy French go to let down their hair so you get a more relaxed but slightly more barefoot-sophisticated vibe; people who aren't just there for a week but more of an extended holiday. We lived in France for many years so it may be an acquired taste...you have to "get it".

As LOL noted it's not for everyone and the 'dump' aspect may apply more to the French side...(people roughing it in a crappy little beach shack for a month before they fly back to their home in Paris and have to put their suit back on); it's very "French" but the people are nice, the food is good and they are quite accommodating to tourists. Nude beaches too! English and USD spoken everywhere.

If you're going soon, you'll enjoy the weather no matter what side you're on! Have fun!
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Old 01-21-2016, 04:58 PM   #5
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Thanks all for the candid observations. Wasn't expecting the "dump" part, for sure! Oh well, a Heineken on the beach beats New England winter hands-down!
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:23 PM   #6
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if you think Sint Maarten/St. Martin is a dump, I would not advise a visit to Dominica (the island).
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:24 PM   #7
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Right! You'll have a GREAT time!

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Old 01-21-2016, 05:26 PM   #8
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Haven't been recently, but when the young wife and I went there 32 years ago on our honeymoon, we much preferred the French side. If you dine in Philipsburg on the Dutch side, look for a restaurant that serves rijstaffel. We went to a place called the Wajang Doll, but it is unlikely that it still exists. You should check, though, because it was really good.

I would recommend that you rent a car. It is much more convenient that way.
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:27 PM   #9
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Let us know when you get back on YOUR impression

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Old 01-21-2016, 05:32 PM   #10
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I'm always reminded of the time I was in a high end hotel and someone was complaining about "things" in their orange juice. They had never had fresh squeezed oj and thought there was something wrong with it! Go make your own impression of a "dump"

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Old 01-21-2016, 06:00 PM   #11
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We stayed on the French side and loved it. We also rented a car, which I would recommend. We drove all around the island visiting small, quiet beaches and found some awesome neighborhood restaurants, and outdoor restaurants right on the beaches. Loved it!
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Old 01-21-2016, 06:00 PM   #12
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Reminds me of a trip through southern Chile and Argentina. We stayed overnight at a rustic but comfortable lodge overlooking a moonlit lake (Lago Todos los Santos). To me it was glorious. To my dinner companions, it was a dump, because it wasn't like the Hilton.
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Who's been to St Martin?
Old 01-21-2016, 06:07 PM   #13
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Who's been to St Martin?

Only on a cruise but snorkeled the whole time and it was great.
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Old 01-21-2016, 06:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
I've visited both sides of the island, but only for a day during a cruise. It's definitely a place I would consider returning to. My impression was that infrastructure was better on the Dutch side.

You must go to Maho Beach to experience jets landing just meters above your head!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maho_Beach

I agree well worth seeing you can really feel the heat from the engines, but a word of warning don't get too comfortable on beach, Both times I went several years apart they had rogue waves that completely drenched me while asleep.
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Old 01-21-2016, 08:22 PM   #15
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Definitely go to that beach! Absolutely a "blast!" A word of advice, don't stand on the beach behind a large jumbo jet taking off unless you are prepared to get sandblasted.
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:14 PM   #16
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I was there 16 years ago and stayed on the Dutch side and loved it. There was a couple at the resort that was attacked while traveling in the mountains. They were pulled over by 4 men with guns and they separated him from his wife. He was ex-military and a combat photographer in south america. He overpowered the 2 guarding him and rescued his wife. She was fine and he escaped with 4 knife wounds. I would definitely go back but be careful where your drive.
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:57 PM   #17
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We have been there several times and stayed on both the Dutch and French side. I would recommend renting a car for atleast a few days so you can see both sides yourself. French side has better restaurants and some nice beaches. Bae Rouge is probably the nicest beach on the island. Orient Beach is a must see if you are open minded about nudity, I thought the French side was a little more upscale, but that is just me.
The people there are poor but friendly. Hurricanes contribute to some of the comments of being a dump, but it still has its charm.
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Old 01-21-2016, 11:02 PM   #18
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I have been bareboat sailing several times around the island and to St Barts and Anguilla. I find the following traveltalkonline board to be very helpful.


http://www.traveltalkonline.com/foru...Board=stmartin

I will be down there this July sailing to most of the Leeward islands.

Have a great time.



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Old 01-21-2016, 11:18 PM   #19
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We were there 12 years ago. Beautiful beaches. We were only there for a day while on a cruise. We landed in the Dutch side and visited the French side by local shared van (combis maybe??) - their form of public transportation. I don't think we ate anywhere.

We did some shopping on the French side and saw a billboard there advertising French perfume or something and it had a picture of a naked woman on it with boobs exposed.
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Old 01-22-2016, 08:11 AM   #20
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If I had my druthers, I'd fly into St. Martin and take a boat over to St. Bart--playground of the rich and famous.

Or, I'd spend my vacation a little farther south in St. Lucia--my favorite of the islands.
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