‘Tis the season for summer vacations!
As a child, I remember my mother taking my brother and me on “vacation” to stay at the hotel up the street from our home. We would pack our luggage into the car, head up the road, check into the hotel and enjoy a weekend of swimming in the heated pool, eating out for every meal, and staying up late watching television together. We did not care that we weren’t out of the country, much less out of the state. In those days, vacation meant just spending uninterrupted time with family and, for my mom, not cooking!
We still love those kinds of getaways but now, we are able to get a little further away, usually to the Caribbean (blame it on my husband’s Jamaican heritage and my affinity for warm water!) The November/December holidays are usually a slow time for our corporate wellness business (maybe because everyone is eating and could care less about wellness? LOL) so we tend to “vacate” during this time! This past December, we chose the little known (to us) island of St. Maarten/St. Martin.
Your first question may be the same as mine: Which is it: St. Maarten or St. Martin? Well, it’s both! This 37 sq. mile island is divided 60/40 between the French (Saint Martin) and the Dutch (Sint Maarten). The Dutch side boasts of its nightlife, exotic drinks and casinos of which we saw NONE as we had two little ones with us! Then, there’s this cute “border crossing:”
…and VOILA you’re on the French side where the French language is spoken, there are only 5-star restaurants, no fast food (they don’t consider Subway fast food), and of course baguettes and clothing-optional beaches. This is the first island we felt comfortable renting our own car (albeit, teeny weeny car) because there is only one main road that circles the entire island.
There are only 75,000 residents but 80+ nationalities making it one of the most diverse places in the world (per capita). This is evident in its food as we had authentic food from a variety of cultures while we visited. Had to get curry goat! YUM!!
I must say that I still wasn’t sure we had the right island until our plane landed and I saw our hotel, The Pelican Marina Residences!
Thanks to a wonderful friend and Soror, our accommodations were absolutely gorgeous. Cherrywood furniture, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, two bedrooms, two balconies and this view overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Oh, and for the Facebook addict, free WiFi! We felt like we were in paradise.
After a quick visit to the grocery store (it was the Christmas season)…
We were all set!
I had a list of activities I wanted to do with the children based on weeks and weeks of research! All that my dear hubby cared about was that there was a gym so I made sure he had his daily pass:
Our first family excursion was a bus tour of the island (I had to get my bearings for later activities!) The sights were breathtaking!
The air-conditioned charter bus stopped at Palm Beach on the French side where we all enjoyed the beautiful white sand and warm water.
Well, not so sure Rielle enjoyed it!
We also visited the local Butterfly Farm.
Given the cost, I expected a lot more but this picture made up for it:
From there we made our way to Le Galion, also known as the Baby beach, where children can walk out for almost a mile and still be only waist-deep in the water.
On another day, RJ and I decided to hang out on The Playstation, a former catamaran converted into a platform with tarzan swings, kids swings, and two types of slides!
We made our way out to the ginormous trampoline. Daddy is not as “adventurous” as RJ and I so he was the designated picture-taker.
There were some “only in the Caribbean” moments including our visit to Sunset Grill where tourists risk their lives (and locals watch) in an effort to feel the pressure from aircraft taking off on the runway.
Yup, this sign says it all:
We kept our distance (with the locals)…
Ms. Rielle celebrated her 3-month birthday in paradise
and spent most of her time just like this:
The resort itself also had tons to offer. While it was hard to leave our beautiful abode, we found a playground complete with our own children’s pool.
There were evening activities including this fun fireball and yummy pizza.
And, of course, evening walks on the beach.
We spent many hours lounging by the pool
Or playing in the sand
We even won a dinner at Jimbo’s where we had the most amazing steak, chicken and shrimp fajitas.
By the end of our trip, RJ was ordering his own “virgin pina coladas.”
We had picture perfect weather other than one storm which impacted our ability to take the Calypso Tour, a cruise designed specifically for kids where they can help steer the boat, lob water balloons, and win prizes. The same storm churned the Sea so our trip on the Seaworld Explorer semi-submarine was also cancelled.
After a week long break, we were very sad to go but we made the best of it!
It’s okay though because we are planning another trip to the island very soon! I already have another list of activities, including visits to Anguilla, Pinel Island and Prickly Pear, snorkeling, ATV’s, zip lining, horseback riding, and of course golf for the Sr. and Jr.
No vacation is ever complete without RJ making tons of friends! This time with the flight attendants and pilot which afforded us this wonderful view from the cockpit (yes, post-9/11. Only RJ!)
In your future vacation planning, consider visiting this jewel of the Caribbean. We’ll meet you there!