Sint Maarten/Saint Martin: Where We Stayed, Ate & Played

Sint Maarten/Saint Martin: Where We Stayed, Ate & Played

As I slowly return from my blogging hiatus, I often find myself wondering where I should pick my storytelling back up. I still have so much content to share from our getaway to Victoria, BC and Seattle last year, not to mention content I still haven’t shared from our 2015 travels to Colombia, Ecuador and Jamaica.

So yeah – I have a lot of catching up to do, and I’ve been meaning to get back into the swing of things with a post about our time in Bogota. Except I didn’t particularly enjoy Bogota, so writing about it is proving to be a struggle.

So instead, I’ll start with St. Maarten/St. Martin, a beautiful slice of the Dutch/French Caribbean we had the pleasure of visiting less than a month before Irma reared her ugly head and left the island in shambles.

While the timing of our visit was impeccable, the fact that this beautiful island was our destination of choice for our first ever vacation with our baby girl (well, our second if we count our quick weekend getaway to Palm Springs earlier this summer) gives it a warm and fuzzy place in our hearts.

Amid reports of looters and locals robbing tourists out of desperation for food and other resources, our thoughts and prayers are with the island and her people during this unimaginably difficult time.

But in happier times, here’s a glimpse of how we spent our all too short week on the island…

WHERE WE STAYED

After reading a few general reviews about the island, I discovered that the Dutch side of the island is more ideal for singles and couples who love to turn up. Since turning up is no longer our reality (not sure that it really ever was though), we opted to stay on the mellow, quieter French side of the island at Mercure St. Martin Marina and Spa.

The hotel, which has since been closed in the aftermath of Irma, isn’t one I would’ve included in my Where to Stay series. Why? Well, although our room itself was nice enough (minus the dim bathroom lighting and the fact that the fridge was on the balcony which was less than ideal for middle of the night baby feedings, especially since there were also creepy iguanas on the prowl!), the service at the front desk was hit or miss, and the restaurant service was practically non-existent.

mercure-saint-martin

But compared to other hotels I researched on the French side, the Mercure seemed to be one of the more modern accommodation options. The hotel grounds were nice and very artsy; there were lots of random sculptures, interactive artwork and other pieces throughout the property. Additionally, each of the hotel’s buildings is named after famous European artists.

mercure-saint-martin

art

This building is named after Salvador Dali...one of my faves
This building is named after Salvador Dali…one of my faves

The property also features a beach that’s really more of a marina. Still, it was nice to have the option to lounge by the shore and enjoy the views of Nettle Bay.

mercure-saint-martin

Our resort with a kiddie pool and other amenities
Our resort with a kiddie pool and other amenities

Overall, the best thing the Mercure has working in its favor is its location, midway between Princess Juliana airport on the Dutch side and Marigot Market on the French side. The hotel’s location makes it quite easy to explore both sides of the island with relative ease if you rent a car.

So…would I stay at the Merure again once it’s back up and running? Yes, I would – but again, not because of its exceptional service.

WHERE WE ATE

One of the best parts of our St. Maarten/St. Martin getaway was eating Caribbean Creole cuisine. For sheer convenience, we only ever ate on the French side of the island, and we were completely blown away by how delicious Caribbean Creole food is.

As we gradually explore different Caribbean countries, I always look forward to how each country puts its own spin on the same ingredients. Let me tell you – the food in St. Martin is some of my favorite. And that’s not to say that we thoroughly explored St. Martin’s culinary scene, because we didn’t. But the restaurants we did try – even our hotel’s restaurant – didn’t disappoint.

Outside of Enoch's Place - our favorite
Outside of Enoch’s Place – our favorite Marigot Market eatery that’s packed with locals.

saint-martin-enochs-place

(left to right): My shrimp creole and Jave's oxtail during our first visit, and we both ordered Creole fried parrot fish during our second visit. Everything was ridiculously delicious and affordable.
(left to right): My shrimp Creole and Jave’s oxtail during our first visit, and we both ordered Creole fried parrot fish during our second visit. Everything was ridiculously delicious and affordable.
From the breakfast buffet at our hotel - just over 20 EUR per person
From the breakfast buffet at our hotel – just over 20 EUR per person; the food was just “okay” for the price
Our yummy lunch salads - I had the shrimp Caesar and Jave had the chicken Caesar - best Caesar salads ever!
Our yummy lunch salads – I had the shrimp Caesar and Jave had the chicken Caesar – best Caesar salads ever!
Dinner at Chez Coco at Marigot Market. I ordered the Creole ribs and Jave ordered the curry conch. Both were good, but we both agreed that we liked Enoch's Place better.
Dinner at Chez Coco at Marigot Market. I ordered the Creole ribs and Jave ordered the curry conch. Both were good, but we both agreed that we liked Enoch’s Place better.
One morning we ate at Dreams Beach Bar near our hotel. They have a decent American breakfast option with bacon, eggs, toast and coffee. We gobbled our food before we could take a picture.
One morning we ate at Dreams Beach Bar near our hotel. They have a decent American breakfast option with bacon, eggs, toast and coffee. We gobbled our food before we could take a picture – sorry.

WHERE WE PLAYED

As I mentioned in my prior post, if this trip had been a couples only trip, Jave and I wouldn’t have left any stone on the island unturned. However, because we had baby girl with us and had to incorporate two naptimes into our days, our activities were limited and mellow yet memorable nonetheless. Here’s how we spent our time.

Marigot Bay
Marigot Bay
Statue
Statue dedicated to the women of Marigot Market
West Indies Shopping Mall - there weren't many shop-worthy shops there
West Indies Shopping Mall – there weren’t any shop-worthy shops there
The tourism office is right near the Marigot Market which comes in handy if you have questions about different sites, or if you simply need a map and good directions
The tourism office is right near Marigot Market which comes in handy if you have questions about different sites, or if you simply need a map and good directions
Regardless of whether you stay on the French or Dutch side, it's a must to explore the opposite side. Rental cars are pretty cheap on the island (ours cost about $120 for 5 days), so be sure to reserve one and explore. This shot is from our drive to the Dutch side of the island.
Regardless of whether you stay on the French or Dutch side, it’s a must to explore the opposite side. Rental cars are pretty cheap on the island (ours cost about $120 for 5 days), so be sure to reserve one and explore. This shot is from our drive to the Dutch side of the island.
We enjoyed strolling along the waterfront in Philipsburg which is lined with restaurants and boutiques
We enjoyed strolling along the waterfront in Philipsburg which is lined with restaurants and boutiques, a Catholic church, and a few hotels

boardwalk-philipsburg-st-maarten

philipsburg-st-maarten

boardwalk-philipsburg-st-maarten

We were surprised to see just how high end and upscale Philipsburg is. It reminded us of a tropical Rodeo Drive.

philipsburg-st-maarten

I was craving ice cream but couldn’t seem to find an open ice cream shop or gelateria to save my life. And then we came across this ice roll stand at the entrance of Old Street

Ice roll stand

philipsburg-st-maarten

philipsburg-st-maarten

philipsburg-st-maarten

Back on the French side, we had a perfect beach day at Mullet Bay Beach...
Back on the French side, we had a perfect beach day at Mullet Bay Beach. It was Celeste’s first time dipping in the ocean, and it was the first time her precious feet touched sand.

saint-martin-mullet-bay

saint-martin-mullet-bay

saint-martin-mullet-bay

saint-martin-mullet-bay

saint-martin-mullet-bay

We wanted to do something specifically for Celeste (not that she’ll remember!), so we took her to The Butterfly Farm (La Ferme des Papillons) on the French side where we got to play with the largest species of moth in the world…

saint-martin-butterfly-farmff

saint-martin-butterfly-farm

saint-martin-butterfly-farmff

saint-martin-butterfly-farmff

saint-martin-butterfly-farm

saint-martin-butterfly-farm

And of course we stopped by the famous Maho Beach where folks go to watch planes take off and land. As planes approach for landing, they get so close to the sand that it looks like you can just stretch your arm up and touch them.

Because we had Celeste with us and the approaching big jets created a windstorm of heat and sand, we opted to take in Maho Beach from a nearby restaurant. But the live DJ and crowds at the restaurant were just too much to handle with a baby, so we kept our visit very short.

saint-martin-maho-beach

Overall, our trip to Sint Maarten-Saint Martin is one for our family history books. We’re praying that the island makes a full recovery from the devastation Irma caused.

 

PINNABLE

sint maarten-saint-martin

Have you been to Sint Maarten-Saint Martin? Do you have a favorite place to eat, stay or play there? Please share in the comments.

 

  • Celeste is adorable!! It looks like you’ve mastered the art of traveling with her. St Marteen looks like a lovely destination to travel to, you had me at the food.

    • Thanks, Rachel! I wouldn’t quite say we’ve “mastered” traveling with Celeste just yet, but we definitely got a good feel for how she fares on the road. And I have to admit that she was a very chill first time traveler – I guess it’s in her blood. Lol. Also, the food in St. Martin is the best Caribbean food I’ve ever had hands down. I drool just thinking about the food at Enoch’s Place.

thatgirlcarmel

This site is protected by wp-copyrightpro.com

Complete this form to join Time Card Express for FREE!
Enter your info below to join and get access to exclusive discounts on local tours and at boutique hotels and restaurants around the world!
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe.
By joining, I agree to the Membership Agreement and Privacy Policy and confirm that I'm 18 years or older.