At least 2016 ended well!

 

When my friend, also named Jennifer, asked if I'd be interested in returning to beautiful St Martin, I practically shouted "YES!"

Four of us vacationed there in July and it was wonderful. SXM is a beautiful island that is easy to get to from NYC.

After everything, it felt like a good time to treat myself.

I was thrilled to spend the last days of 2016 in paradise - and the first days of 2017 too.

For this trip, I went for seven decadent nights and it made such a difference. I felt the most relaxed that I have in months. And when I came back to NYC, I honestly felt more or less normal, something that I didn't always feel after the surgery.

 


A few of you asked for tips on travel to St. Martin so here they are!

The first decision you'll likely face is where to stay. Before you decide Dutch side versus French, think hotel versus house or apartment. The island is small enough that you'll almost certainly spend time experiencing both Dutch Sint Maarten and French St. Martin.

Image via sintmaartenvacation.com

Image via sintmaartenvacation.com

Where To Stay

For both SXM vacations, my friends and I stayed in apartments in Orient Bay (Baie Orientale). For the New Year's trip, we rented a two-bedroom duplex from Sprimbarth, a real estate agency we found on TripAdvisor and had a great experience. 

Apartments have been a great choice for us: more space, the ability to cook a bit (if desired) and better economics. 

If hotels are more your speed, there are many options. The Westin Dawn Beach has gorgeous grounds and, I assume, rooms. Incidentally, the property also has apartments for rent, however because they only allow Saturday-Saturday stays (no exceptions!) we looked elsewhere. While I haven't visited this luxe hotel, I have heard great things.

What to Do

We were seeking R&R more so than adventure. We read (I loved this book), swam, sunned, napped and drank a lot of rosé.

After a few days lounging on our gorgeous "home" beach, we did spend a day on Mullet Bay Beach and really enjoyed the change of scene. Mullet Bay featured bigger waves, a population that included lots of locals and proximity to landing airplanes which made for fun photos. 

 

We took a wrong turn on our way to Mullet Bay but it came with the reward of finding this tiny beach.

While St. Martin has plenty to do, we opted to make a day trip to St Barths. Same-day ferries between St. Martin and St. Barths are NOT available every day so it pays to plan ahead (thanks for that, JG!).

I am someone who has always enjoyed being on the water, HOWEVER the sea was very rough on the fourty-five minute sail. All three of us felt...not good. There's funny video from the trip on my YouTube SXM playlist.

One other thing you should know if you visit St. Barths during the high season: cabs can be very difficult to find. Smart vacationers hire taxi drivers for the duration of their stay during the holidays. As such, when it was time to leave Eden Roc for the ferry terminal, we couldn't find an available taxi.

So we hitchhiked. Sorry Mom!

Our savior, a lovely French woman, spoke no English and collectively we speak maybe thirty words of French. But we managed.

Where We Ate

St. Martin likes to think of itself as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. And it's definitely a contender. Our favorites included La Table d'Antoine (Orient Bay), Le Piment (also Orient Bay), and Bistrot Caraibes. We enjoyed dinner at Coco Beach on New Year's Eve.

In the morning, we sampled pastries throughout Orient Bay, and I tried in vain to find a Starbucks-style iced latte. Oh well...no place is perfect.