Wow!!! What a great week in St. Maarten. First and foremost, I would like to thank all of you who have posted info. on this website. Without you guys and girls, I don’t think I would have been able to plan our vacation. Okay enough of the acceptance speech.
My wife and I arrived on the island on around 1pm Sat. May 19th. We flew in from Charlotte, NC via US Airways. Great flight! The “new” airport (SXM) was nice. The airstrip is small. There is only one runway so when the planes land they have to “taxi” back down the runway to the terminals. When we got off the plane we went through immigration. It didn’t take as long as expected. Three lines stamped our passports and then off to get our checked luggage. Found the luggage then off to locate our rental car.
There was a lady waiting outside with a sign with my name on and she directed me to another guy who escorted me across the street to my car. He then introduced me to Mohamed Hussein, from Panoramic Car Rental. We looked over the car, no damage , clean with 1/2-3/4 tank of gas (return with same amount: if not charged for it). I then signed the contract. I got a good rate- $180 for the week, including insurance and taxes for a 2005 Toyota Corolla.
Left the parking lot then enroute to Pelican Resorts. Okay resort, I give it an 8. The hilly terrain and the distance to walk from our room to the beach was a hassle. We stayed in the Croton building; room C4A. The staff was nice, the room was clean, lots of activities going on, clean pools, well landscaped, and nice view. Our room was located behind the new construction. It wasn’t that bad. With the way the resort “stair steps” we still had a good view of Simpson Bay. Dropped of luggage and left to explore. We were looking a grocery store to buy bottled water, snacks, supper to cook for the night, sandwich stuff, and breakfast food. If you decide to buy groceries DO NOT waste your time at Sang’s Super Center in Philipsburg, near the Greenhouse Restaurant. Expensive! On the way back to Pelican we found Le Grande Mache’ grocery store near Philipsburg in the roundabout. Clean and good prices!! A lot cheaper. Got to our room and cooked our pizza and planned the rest of the week.
Sunday, we rented kayaks from Aquamarina (you can also book dinner cruises aboard the Tango and Lambada and trips to Prickly Pear, Anguilla, St. Barts from here also). located at the dock of the Pelican. $15/hr/person. Paddled under the draw bridge to the lagoon. Located some restaurants that overlooked the water that we would like to try later in the week. Nice trip. **Later found out that Pelican Resort has kayaks of there own that were free to use. They are located at the beach section of the resort. Then soaked up some rays on the beach (free chairs and umbrella) and ate at Pelican’s beach bar. Good cheeseburgers and tasty frozen Quavaberry (native liquor mixed like a daiquiri). Later that night we took the Sunset Cruise (“booze cruise”). We booked it through Pelican. We went aboard the Tango (catamaran) 5:30 -7:00 $10/person. All the run punch, rum and coke, rum and whatever, & champagne you can drink plus enjoy the scenery. Great crew and a lot of fun. My wife got sick. Not due to drinking (she didn’t drink), but because she is pregnant and got very nauseous. So we didn’t take any ferry trips or cruise over the any other islands because we are afraid she you get sea sick again. Went to Topper’s Resturant for supper. Nice open air rest. With live music. Mahi sandwich $11, Chicken marsal $16. We didn’t eat the brisket (cooked like roast beef, very tender) with carrots & mashed potatoes $17. We heard it was very good.
Monday, Meet & Greet at Pelican. Very informative. Pancake breakfast $2. Shopping in Philipsburg. Good shopping at reasonable prices. Ate at The Blue B*tch Bar- Great portabella mushroom wrap $8, Philipsburger $9. If you are looking jewelry make sure you check out the Caribbean Gems stores- look for Barry or Mad Max. Very nice and the best prices in Philipsburg. Supper: Lee’s Roadside Grill. Great food. Grilled mahi $15 Grilled wahoo $15 Ribs $12 all served with steamed veggies & fries or potatoes
Tuesday, Mullet Bay. Very quite and beautiful scenery. Also good snorkeling. They also have a catering service set up under the mangrove trees serving lunch and also locals grilling serving burgers or ribs on charcoal grills. Smelled great. Supper: Buccaneer Beach Bar. Very disappointed. Dark nothing really going on. Maybe 10 customers and no music. Very bad lighting. Good steak sandwiches $9 and $1 kamikaze shooters. They have a different $1 shooter everyday.
Wednesday, Breakfast La Veranda on Pelican Resort. Excellent thick French toast $5 Ham & cheese omelet $5. Traveled to Marigot. Open markets on Wednesday & Saturday. This was the highlight of the city. The rest of the shops & mall stores were very expensive. Lunch: Plongeoir Restaurant. Located across from the marina. Good food. Tasted almost like home cooking. Seasoned ground hamburger topped with mashed potatoes & cheese then baked served with salad w/ water $24. Ventured up to Fort St. Louis. Steep steps. I guess it use to be a nice tourist attraction, but now vandalized with trash and broken spot lights that would shine up on French flag and fort itself. But very good viewpoint overlooking Marigot. Supper: The Boathouse. Have a lot of fried foods but very good. Coconut shrimp $17 Item on menu called “Can’t Decide” sampler of conch fritters, sautéed shrimp, grilled mahi, salad, & baked potato $20
Thursday, Loteire Farm. Located near Marigot. Zip lines and tightropes from tree to tree. $40/person takes about an hour. Harnessed with safety ropes and pulley. VERY FUN. I felt bad though since my wife couldn't do it being pregnant. Lunch: Tree Topper Lounge. Located on Loterie Farm property. Very nice & well decorated. Crab & chicken taco salad w/ mango margarita $24. Very good food. **BEWARE: The road that travels past the entrance to Loterie Farms is very steep and reduces down to a one lane road when at the top of the mountain. Many blind corners. When you reach the top of the mountain there is a place to park next to a French Telecom tower. There is a small path that leads you out to a view point. This the most spectacular view of the whole island. Pic Paradise. Highest point on the island. We later found out from the wait staff at Tree Toppers that many people’s cars were broken into while walking out to the view point. So DO NOT leave any thing in your car. Traveled to Grand Case. Was not impressed at all. If you would like to sample the French Restaurants this in the place to go. We didn’t even stop. Maybe a mile stretch of nothing but restaurants and a few shops. Circled through and went to Orient Beach. Well off the beaten path but VERY BEAUTIFUL!! Lots of water sports (jet ski rental, parasailing, kite surfing, etc.) and beach bars. Chair & umbrella rentals with drinks. NUDE BEACH on the opposite side of the rock jetty. Supper: Lady C Floating Bar. All you can eat ribs $10.95. very good. Pizza place beside Lady C had good pizza as well. $14
Friday, Shopping back in Philipsburg for souvenirs. If you are looking good deals go to Rima’s. Located across the street from the Salt Pond. Yellow building with lots of flags hanging from it. Went back to Caribbean Gems to buy mothers some jewelry for CHRISTMAS. Mother of Pearl pendants. Starting price at $145, ended up buying for $95. GREAT DEALS!! Back to Mullet Bay for some rest and relaxation. Supper: Pineapple Pete’s. GREAT FOOD but little expensive!!!! Spinach stuffed grouper $21 Lobster Thermador $33. This is their specialty. Steamed 2-3lb lobster. Meat removed mixed with cheese sauce & mushrooms then baked. EXCELLENT!! Crème Brule $9. Homemade everyday, very good. Also ate Escargot for the first time. Back at resort for early check out. 6pm-9:30pm. Very quick and easy. Pay timeshare tax of $50. Walked over to Hollywood Casino (located next to office). Small casino. Lots of slots. Workers didn’t not seem knowledgeable of the rules of the game especially roulette.
Saturday, Ate breakfast. Circled through shops near Maho beach. Then checked in luggage at SXM. They allow you to check in your bags early that morning for any flights that are leaving that day so you can turn in rental cars or explore the island more. We ate at Sunset Beach Bar (located at the end of the runway, Maho Beach) to watch the planes land and take off. Great experience and great place to take pictures. They also have a great triple cheese black angus burger. $9 and they also had a great strawberry daiquiri (best we had all week). Turned in rental car. Representative from Panoramic Car Rental was in parking lot.
Conclusion: St. Maarten was a nice island. Very beautiful beaches, but they are hard to get to. You have to take side roads that are poorly marked in order to reach the beach. Away from the beach, the scenery is almost like a 3rd world country. Very dirty and poor living conditions. When we stopped at this island on our honeymoon cruise back in 2005, we didn’t wonder far off Front Street so we were not aware of the true island. We only witnessed the “dressed up” areas that the cruise ship passengers would see without the use of a car or taxi. The roads are winding, narrow, and filled with pot holes. The traffic pace is very stop and go, due to other driver darting out in front of you. You will feel like a Nascar driver when you leave. The restaurants were great and if you research you can find some that are very good and reasonably priced. There are many restaurants that are expensive. The locals are very nice. The shopping is great and the prices are wonderful, especially with it being duty free. ***Note: upon returning to the US, the customs officer asked how many bottles of alcohol I was bring in. I told him 4 and he said that was 3 too many. He waived it this time. But the charge is $5/bottle for any over the 1 per person limit. Still can buy it cheaper. Ex. 1 liter of Crown Royal in US - $25, if purchased in St. Maarteen, $12.50 + $5= $17.50. Can’t beat that!! I rate this vacation at a 7 out of 10. Mainly due to cleanliness and trouble of locating places b/c to lack of road signs.
I hope this review has helped you in planning your trip to St. Maarten, like the ones that I used to plan my vacation. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will try to do my best to answer them. Sorry it was so long, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible to help others, give them an honest review, and offer many suggestions.