Six Days Near St. Maarten
February 7, 2010 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What should my boyfriend and I do for 6 days on or near St. Maarten?

To celebrate his 60th birthday, my boyfriend's father is flying the whole family to St. Maarten for a week. My boyfriend and I were able to arrange our schedules to travel out 6 days before the family for a little pre-vacation of our own. We are also celebrating my boyfriend's graduation from law school and his completion of the New York Bar Exam.

During the family portion of our trip, we will be staying in a resort on the French side of the island. We would like our first six days to be as different from that as possible. (Neither of us is a huge fan of resorts.) We wouldn't mind staying on St. Maarten but would also love to travel anywhere that is a short ferry or flight away.

We enjoy active vacations and would love for our time to include hiking, kayaking, bicycling, etc. We love food, especially street foods and other local favorites. We prefer character and charm to luxury. We like to go out at night, but usually prefer bars/dives to clubs. We also would enjoy being in the middle of nowhere. We are gay, and if there are gay activities nearby, we would love to visit them, but we only need for places to be tolerant and safe. We would be happy spending our time all in one place or bouncing around a little bit.

We are trying to stick to spending no more than $1,500US on this portion of the trip, and we would really prefer to keep our budget closer to $1,000.
posted by kevin-o to Travel & Transportation around (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
For our honeymoon three years ago, we spent a week in Grand Case, a charming small town on the beach on the French side of the island. Please do make a trip there for the food, at least. I swear, every other business in town is a fantastic French restaurant.

Since you mention street food, there were at least two cheap barbecue joints side-by-side, catering to locals -- the food was great. I liked the whole fried fish. One of them was featured on Alton Brown's Feasting on Waves.

We only went out one night -- there was a dive-y bar on the beach, remarkable because the night's entertainment was an acoustic duo who specialized in Prince covers. They were quirky and awesome. I don't remember what the bar was called, but at least when we were there, there were only a few bars in town anyway. (You know, because everything else is a French restaurant.)

I can't help you with the active activities -- we hardly left Grand Case at all.
posted by liet at 9:24 AM on February 7, 2010


Haven't been myself, but have you tried googling "gay st. maarten" or "gay carribean"? Orbitz and trip advisor both gay guides... enjoy!
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:27 AM on February 7, 2010


Why not take a PADI Open Water dive course? Takes you off the resort for four days, you'll learn something new, and see a beautiful part of the island you'd normally not see.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:33 AM on February 7, 2010


If you're interested in airplanes, there's a beach on St. Maarten that's right in front of the airport's runway. This photo is fairly typical, I understand. Your mileage may vary, but it's definitely unique.

Congratulations to your boyfriend on finishing law school and the bar exam. Have a great trip!
posted by tellumo at 9:34 AM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really liked going up to Loterie Farm on Pic Paradis for a change. I hiked around with my binoculars looking for birds, since that's kind of my thing. I saw some of the endemic species, which was awesomely cool. Loterie Farm has ziplines, if you're into that.

The market in Marigot on Wednesday and Saturday mornings is pretty sweet, too.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:47 AM on February 7, 2010


Oooh, and I find this fascinating. During Hurricane Luis in 1995, a huge development at Mullet Bay was destroyed (along with much of the island, frankly.) The owners have never repaired the condos, and the remains are creepy. In a good way, I think. Here's some background on it. And some photos.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2010


Also, (sorry, I keep remembering things), try some food from a "lolo." Johnny B's under the tree is a good place to start. Grand Case also has a ton of them.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:13 AM on February 7, 2010


Can either of you sail? You can rent a 21' Beneteau sloop from Wind Adventures at Orient Beach for €800 per week, it has a cute little cabin with a V-berth — you'd be roughing it a bit but that's the opposite of a resort, right? Anguilla is just 1-2 hours' sail away to the north, and St. Barth is just 2-3 hours to the south — both very different flavors of island from St. Martin.

If you can't do that, I always recommend Grand Case Beach Club, at the east end of the French side. Here's my map of stuff to do in the area.
posted by nicwolff at 10:25 AM on February 7, 2010


St Martin is fun but with 6 days by yourselves plus the resort time I would definitely try to get off the island a bit. My recommendation is to go to Anguilla for a day trip or even stay over a night or two. It feels much more "middle of nowhere" than anywhere in St Martin and is just gorgeous. A day trip to Shoal Bay East will cost you about $70 each for the ferry ($20/person each way) and cab (~$60 round trip to the beach from the ferry) but you end up on a beach that is huge, gorgeous, and sparsely populated (or at least it was when I went there a week ago Monday). Here is the ferry guide from Marigot to Anguilla, which took me some digging to find when I was looking for it. Don't forget your passport.
posted by ch1x0r at 10:26 AM on February 7, 2010


If you've ever wanted to go sailing, I highly recommend this one day activity. It is absolutely exhilarating, and you don't need any prior sailing experience to take part.
posted by kaudio at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seconding the 'airport' beach, it has to bee seen to be believed.

An other option for a day-trip is Saba, this island is very small, but a walk to the top of the vulcano is nice and the flight to the island can be spectacular as well. According to this site the airfaire for two people would be around 270$
posted by PaulZ at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2010


Seconding Loterie Farm.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 6:22 PM on February 7, 2010


I'll second (third?) going to Anguilla. My wife and I spent time there for our honeymoon - incredibly casual and relaxing. The beaches (some are more crowded than others) are almost empty and wonderful.
posted by jmevius at 6:36 PM on February 7, 2010


Seconding the 'airport' beach, it has to bee seen to be believed.

Thirding the airport beach. Even if you aren't an airplane nerd or you think "Jeez, I'm gonna look at freakin' airplanes?"

Check out this Youtube clip.

And this.

And this.

There is a bar that posts the arrival times, just like at the airport.
posted by xetere at 3:41 PM on February 8, 2010


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