French West Indies – St. Martin

I still remember learning how to spell “Caribbean.” It was a word I wrote out many times when I was younger, when teachers would ask “Where is your dream vacation?” The funny thing is, at the time I probably thought I would go on these vacations with my family. As it turns out, I have visited many Caribbean islands but always with friends. I have been lucky enough to visit Jamaica, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and this past winter, with my boyfriend’s family, Saint Martin.

Lucky for me, my boyfriend’s family knows I love to plan travel and gave me the reins to choose where we would visit in 2017. There are over 7,000 Caribbean Islands (what!?, thanks Google) and I immediately narrowed that down to where I was able to bask in the sun while enjoying a fresh croissant.

Saint Martin is part Dutch and part French. The choice of where to stay on the island was easy. The Dutch side has the cruise port, so much more touristy – think casinos, your typical American restaurants and strip clubs. The French side has incredible restaurants that rival France, local beaches and, well, French speaking people.

The days consisted of waking up early to the sound of tropical birds, …waking up Bert, making an espresso, then walking down to the local bakery to pick up fresh croissants and baguettes for his family. After devouring approximately 1.5 croissants and some baguette with beurre and jam, you could find me squinting with one eye open by the pool looking up what local beach we would go to.

Local Beaches

Orient Bay – The beach where our villa was located. Not only is clothing optional, but here you will find champagne bars, massage tents, and fresh coconuts.

Baie Rouge – If you can brave the current you can swim around to a smaller, even more private alcove where there is a natural sea arch. Grab a Carib at one of small beachside shacks.

Friar’s Bay – My favorite local beach.  Here you will find scattered lounge chairs, clear waters, and a Jamaican BBQ (be prepared to wait). A 10-minute scenic walk (more like a hike!) through the woods will bring you to a similar beach (Happy Bay) where yachts are anchored only a few feet off shore.

Grand Case – Crystal clear waters. Views of the mountains. Good shopping.

Only regret of the trip? Not taking the hour long ferry to St. Barts. Guess I’ll have to go back!