Trip Report: Grand Case, St Martin
Went for a week in August 2013. It was a spur of the moment thing and we hoped it would not be too hot. It was perfect.
We rented a two story apartment on the quiet end of the beach with a gorgeous view of the Caribbean and the island of Anguilla on the horizon. We would say the best end because we prefer quiet beaches away from noisy beach bars and cafes, and rows of deck chairs, parasols and crowds. Again we weren’t disappointed because we had about a quarter of a mile of beach to ourselves most days. It was about a 5 min walk along a busy road into the center of town from where we were but that was no big deal.
We had breakfast in the apartment, grabbed a quick lunch while we were out and about during the day and each evening walked along for a great meal in Grand Case. Some nights we went to the Lolos and other nights we went to one of the superb restaurants (see reviews of La Villa Restaurant, L'Auberge Gourmande, Bistrot Caraibes and Ocean 82)
We rented through Jennifer’s Vacation Villas and they behaved with class and made sure we were happy. Someone had taken the trouble to stock the fridge with starting items like coffee, cookies, beer, cheese, OJ, cola and wine. Very nice. The first night we had some issues with the air conditioning but this was fixed expeditiously. The second day we found ants. Also had trouble with interruptions with water and power cuts over two days owing to (noisy) road works in front of the building. None of this was stressing because it was either short-lived or Jennifer and her team took care of things. It was clear that they wanted us to have a good time.
One tip, if you go, especially to the French side, make sure someone walks you through how to make phone calls using whatever mobile you have. This gave us no end of trouble because the instructions in the guide books or those left in the apartment were out of date. You need an actual demo of the call for both a French side number and a Dutch side number.
Otherwise, what a place! Snorkeling was good just outside the door with plenty of fish to see.
We did not want the hassle of a rental car, especially trying to find a place to park on this small island, plus we knew we wouldn’t need it every day. We travelled using the local bus service (Transport en Commun) where you can stop a bus wherever you want along the road to get on or off. To go to places off the bus route, we either walked or took a taxi. The bus was US $1 to US $1.5 wherever we went and the taxis very reasonable, all much better than the hassle of rentals cars and it was great fun to mix and talk with the regular passengers, all of whom were super polite and friendly. The busses are small, so you’ll need a taxi to and from the airport if you have luggage and if there are more than two of you, it might be difficult to all squeeze on to a bus during busy times.
For activities, we went to Marigot a few times (Fort St Louis), climbed up Pic Paradis along the nature trail from the park at the bottom, went to Isle Pinel (to one of the very quiet beaches on the far side but had a great meal on the left hand side restaurant at the dock) and went to Orient Bay once (not our cup of tea: row upon row of deckchairs seemingly with a pile of empty beer bottles next to many of the occupants!) and the very interesting butterfly farm.
Speaking of butterflies, we had a pleasant surprise in that there appeared to be an absence of biting and night time fluttering insects, at least during the time we were there.