It has been raining ALL winter in Georgia. Apparently this is normal. Fun. I’m so tired of the rain that I am having dreams of beaches. Beaches I know and beaches I don’t. Beaches I am pretty sure I have only seen on The Travel Channel, still my dreams are filled with beaches. So today I am taking you along with me on a journey to my MOST FAVORTIST beach ever. So grab a coconut filled with rum, a comfy chair, and shine a damn UV light directly into your face, cause we are headed south, way, way south, out past The Bahamas, past Puerto Rico, past the British Virgin Islands, down to a small island with two names.
The island of St. Martin is in a cluster of small islands between the Virgin British Islands and another cluster of islands in the Caribbean Sea that you could follow all the way down to Venezuela. Wouldn’t that be epic? And expensive. Yes, very expensive. Wait, so how did you get to this tropical island, Missy? Good question. Legit question. I took a cruise. It was still expensive, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t one of those drive to Texas hop on a Carnival and go to the Bahamas type deals. (Ugh, the Bahamas. No thanks. Also, just say NO to Jamaica.) Instead, we left from Miami and spent many a nights at sea to get to the beautiful St. Martin, but it was TOTALLY worth it. Yes, do that. Do. That.
St. Martin actually sits between the Anguilla Channel and the Saint Barthélemy Channel, and the island has a long, sordid history. It is actually owned by two countries because long, sordid history, and no one wanted to give it up. You can see the country divide in this Google image. You can also see Great Bay, where our ship docked and Maho Beach which I’ll be discussing post haste. The long, sordid history is interesting and I suggest you read about it, but I don’t have time to dive in today because I know the REAL reason neither the Dutch nor the French wanted to give up this island. This guy:
I don’t know his name, even though I asked him a couple of times and he told me, a couple of times. I’m blaming the coconut juice mixed with rum (for five American dollars) and the obvious sun stroke I was having that day. It could have also been because he was speaking Frutch. Or is it Dench? Who knows? He was speaking a pidgin language, code-switching, doing all those things, but he really should be a national treasure on both sides of the country divide. (And just so we are clear that is NOT me in the striped bikini. I know it looks A LOT like me, but it is not. She was speaking Spanish and had very nice, umm, words. La amo.)
Anyway, we found this machete-wiedling coconut guy on the French side of the island. But the French side of the island is on the north side, so before we got there we made a few stops on the Dutch side.
When you first get to St. Martin (I’m choosing the French spelling because it’s easier) you dock in Phillipsburg at Great Bay. You can stay all day there if you want to. There is a nice, little, incredibly crowded beach, and plenty to eat and drink and places to shop. Or you can do what we did, which is hop a ferry through the Great Salt Pond to get to the other side of Phillipsburg, then grab a taxi to take you around all day. You can hire this taxi for the day for, I want to say, $150. But it’s worth it because the taxi driver is sort of your unofficial tour guide to the island. He tells you all sorts of things, like this fun encounter:
Taxi Driver: You are American?
Taxi Driver: Do you like your president? (It was 2017)
Me: Oh hell nah, he’s batshit crazy.
Taxi Driver (laughing): Oh, okay. You good American. He lives here (points to a giant mansion behind a giant gate we were passing). We hate him.
Cool beans. We had a lot in common with the taxi driver.
Anyway, he told us this on the way to Maho Beach. Did I say post haste? That was a lie. Maho Beach is a beach you probably know if you, like me, enjoy watching “Beach Shows” on The Travel Channel. Maho Beach is that beach where the airport is right next to it so large planes fly in over your head. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about.
As you can see from the pic (not mine by the way, stole it off the internet) the beach is teeny-tiny because over the years they’ve had to expand the runway to accommodate the bigger planes. I really wanted to go there though, even though our taxi driver said it was a waste of time. He said the “big” planes only come on certain days and that day was not one of them. Still he took us there and said, “I’ll wait. You won’t be long.” Man, he was right. It’s crowded, and it smells like jet fuel, and there were no big planes. Though there were several small ones that came while we were there (about an hour). Here is the one pic I got of a plane and Jackson running into the sea for the first time on the island. He made a fast friend there and was playing, and never even cared about the planes.
Jackson is fully clothed and in bright yellow, cause I ain’t no dummy. You will be able to spot him in all the pics, like I could spot him in a crowd of people, or if he happened to be drowning from being taken down by a shark. Of which did not happen, even though I absolutely assumed it would. Our taxi driver later went into detail about Maho Beach:
“When The Travel Channel came, all hell broke loose. Stupid people came and started trying to ‘race’ the planes, and take crazy pictures, and stand on top of each other and ‘touch’ them. People died. That’s why they made the beach tiny and put that fence up. There used to not be a fence. People are very dumb.”
Then he took us on a tour of the island on the way to what he called the “good” beach on the French side. We saw the real, true St. Martin, and like most of those small Caribbean islands, it was not all pretty hotels and palm trees. There was some really bleak parts. Something a lot of tourists don’t see because they stay in Phillipburg or don’t opt to “see the whole island” like we did. It was an awakening for sure. Felt kinda bad. You know, white people, white, American people guilt. Ick. But here are a couple pics we stopped to take because our taxi driver slammed on the brakes and said, “Oh, you’re gonna want a pic here!”
Man that guy was good.
This was right before my mother-in-law dropped my phone on the ground and it shattered, but I wasn’t even mad. Not even upset, cause I was in St. Fucking Martin. That’s the island lifestyle I need right now, man. Did I mention Jerimiah’s mom was with us? Oh yes, and her friend Peggy. In fact, Grandma gifted Jackson’s whole trip to us which is probably how we were able to afford to go in the first place. Uh huh, yes indeed. Thanks, G-ma.
Okay, so we finally made it to the “good” French beach, and it did not disappoint. There was white sand, crystal-clear water, chicken wings, beer, a sea trampoline, parasailing. You could even charter another ferry to a nearby island Caya Verte. The beach was named Orient Bay and we had heard of it because people on the cruise were saying it was a nude beach. Our taxi driver laughed when we said this. Then asked if we were looking for a nude beach, because if so we were headed to the wrong place. He assumed, rightly, that with a child we wanted a “kid friendly” beach. Don’t worry, we tipped this dude well.
So we got to Orient Beach, had lunch on the beach, then hilarity ensued for the rest of the afternoon.
Yeah, that’s Jackson on the sea trampoline because you ALWAYS do the sea trampoline, even if it’s twenty American dollars because you never know when you will wish you could do a sea trampoline and not have the opportunity. Always do the thing in another country, y’all. As asinine as it might be. And yes, that red thing is a beer from Trinidad. And yeah it’s good. And yeah you can get it in the US of A. That burrito looking thing, that’s gonna be harder to come by. It’s filled with a bunch of stuff I don’t know how to pronounce and it has chicken in it. With the bones. That’s a thing. Leaving the bones in. (Throws hands up in the air.) Don’t eat the bones.
So on the way back to the ship we were exhausted. We were dropped off in the center of Phillipsburg and got to shop some of the local venders (Jackson ended up with a St. Martin license plate that proudly hangs on his wall with his license plate collection) and I’m pretty sure I bought more sunblock. I hope I bought more sunblock.
There you have it. My most favorite beach ever. Sure there have been other cool-ish beaches in Southern California, the North Carolina Outer Banks, and even in New England, but this beach was one bad mamma-jamma, and if you ever get the chance to go to St. Martin or any of the islands around there (St. Kitts and Nevis, US/British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda) GO TO THERE!