Thursday, June 19, 2014

St Maarten: The Location of my future second home.

 ..But really.  This was hands down my favorite island I have ever visited!  For starters, it is absolutely gorgeous.  From the moment I looked out at it from the ship, I was in love. Water in such vibrant shades of blue, it did not even look real rolling up onto pure, white sandy beaches.  Dotting the landscape behind those perfect beaches were buildings in bright, happy colors, and towering behind the buildings were steep, green-covered mountains.  It looked just how a tropical paradise ought to look, and it did not disappoint once we got off the boat.  I could have wandered around for hours.  I could have stayed on the beach for hours!  ...Oh, you guys, the beaches were unbelievable!! Every person we talked to was so nice--even the gentlemen that kept trying to sell us marijuana!  ;) (They were nice and left us alone as soon as we said no thank you.)  I loved this place, and I mean, Dan's a dentist, we totally could have a home here some day, right?? ;)

Love the pineapple on top of the courthouse!

St. Maarten is very small island, but it's split between two countries; there's a Dutch side and a French side.  Our ship docked on the Dutch side, in Phillipsburg, and our original plan had been to take a bike tour through the city and then hit up a beach.  Those dreams were quickly dashed when we couldn't find the company we'd been planning on using.  However, we did not let that get us down! We wandered around and enjoyed the sites while hunting for something else to do...and our paths crossed with just the man!

Chico is a St Maarten native and proud of his Dutch passport.  He offered our group a private tour of the island at a discounted rate (it was late in the day and he was worried he wouldn't find another group to take.)  In three hours he took us all over the island, hitting up all the major sites and allowing us to see both the Dutch and French sides--and taste a little of the culture of both.  Teaming up with Chico was the best decision we could have made.  He was a talker and knew so much, not just about the sites, but he could answer any question we had about the politics, economy, and almost any random statistic.  My favorite thing is when he would say, "my wife and I enjoy going here/this is one of my favorite things to do."  Maybe he was just talking things up, but he was awesome and if you ever go to St Maarten, look him up, totally worth the money.
First stop: Maho Beach, which is right next to the airport.  Planes fly RIGHT over you.  We got to see a couple in action, it was CRAZY.  I love the picture on the warning sign...

Next, we went up to the top of a mountain to check out the view!

Chico even took pictures for us!  What a guy!

Next, it was over to the French side.  Naturally, the best thing to do there is ...EAT!
A long line, so you know it's good. ;)

It's our turn to decide!

The winners....

The memory of this makes me melt inside.  So, so good!

That's the fort, but we didn't have time to go up and see it. 

The final stop of our tour was Orient Bay, aka, the most perfect beach ever.

Are you getting the vibrancy of the colors here?? This is incredible!!

Down toward the nudist beach.  Par-tay!
 After our tour with Chico came to a close, we did a little souvenir shopping, and then headed back to the boat.  This is up there on my list of favorite days.  You know the days that are burned so bright into your memory it seems as though they happened only moments ago?  Totally how I feel about our little venture to St Maarten.  I can't wait to go back and explore it more another time.  It is a GEM.

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