Friday, April 12, 2013

CRUISE 2013 - DAY 7 SINT MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN


Our final stop was one of our most favorite islands - Sint Maarten/St. Martin.  Half Dutch and half French and an incredibly beautiful island with lots of stellar beaches to enjoy.  We have talked about coming back to the island for a week's holiday as you can also take a ferry to Anguilla and Saba is nearby as well...plus they have great local transportation so you could get around quite cheaply via local bus and only use taxi's when absolutely necessary.


Pier and welcome centre
We got off the ship around 9:30am and started walking into town.  We headed off on the path we usually use and got past the water taxi pier and realized that the path is now cut off as there is construction going on.  Another couple was peering around perplexed and we both said "...but this is the way we came last time!!".  We had a laugh and both turned back toward the welcome centre.  We walked along together out past security to the main road and began walking toward Philipsburg together.  We found out they were from Wales (UK) and were on their 24th (!!!) cruise.

We said our goodbyes when we hit the outside edge of town and Dave and I walked along the boardwalk looking for the spot that we had our picture taken fifeen years ago on our very first trip to St. Martin.  A lot has changed and we never could find the alley with the right statue to recreate our photo.

We cut through an alley and made our way to Front Street and wandered back along the street until we got to Old Street where we cut through to reach Back Street. 

The entrance to Old Street
At the end of Old Street is the bus stop, located on Back Street.  We only had to wait for a few minutes before a white van (aka local bus) pulled up with "Mullet Bay/Maho Bay" in the window.  Look for "bus" on the license plate, not "taxi" as they can look the same.  We were heading to Mullet Bay Beach, one of our favorite beaches and very cheap to get to since bus fare is only $2 per person each way.

As we drove by the Princess Julianna Airport, we got to see one of the Delta shuttle flights take off flying passengers from the disabled Carnival Dream back to Florida.  We had always seen planes taking off in the opposite direction toward the mountains but this one took off toward the water.  We asked the bus driver why this was and he explained that if the plane was wanting to conserve fuel, they would take off toward the water as they needed to use a lot of fuel to get up enough speed to lift off the runway and get over the mountains going in the other direction.

Mullet Bay Beach

Once at the beach, we rented two lounge chairs and an umbrella for $15 and settled in to read, relax and take in the sights.  We walked the beach for a bit and then hit the water for a good long float.  I couldn't call it a swim because we didn't move too far : - )  The water was a lovely temperature but not as clear as our last couple of visits.  Every beach on this cruise had much higher waves and the sand was more stirred up because of rougher seas in the Caribbean recently. 

We hung out at the beach for a few hours and then walked out to the main road and waved down a bus heading into Philipsburg.  We had the driver drop us off at Rima's so we could see if there were any souvenirs or clothes we wanted to buy.  They have tons of dresses, purses, shirts, hats, jewelry...with better prices than most.  Don't expect high quality or local creations...this is your basic cheaper clothing and souvenirs likely made in China or somewhere similar, but they do have good prices.
  
Rima's distinctive yellow building
Nothing really grabbed our attention so we left and started walking back toward Front Street looking for an internet cafe.  We eventually found one in a small alcove off of Front Street, in the back of a convenience store.  We bought some time and caught up on email and Facebook.  Dave really wanted a bag of Lay's potato chips but when he found out that a bag that would cost us $2 - $2.50 in Canada would cost him $5US, he just couldn't bring himself to do it!!

We walked along the boardwalk and back to the pier for a treat that I had been waiting all day to get.  There is a little hut on the pier, called Coco Express, that sells the most delicious coconut smoothies I have ever tasted.  I got a small for $4 but when I finished the last of it just before we boarded the ship....I thought I should have bought the large.  Sooooo good!!!

Coco Express - delish!!!!


We went to supper, said goodbye to our waiters and tablemates and went back to the cabin to pack up everything.  Once we packed our suitcases, keeping anything we might need in the morning, we put the cases outside in the hallway and crashed for the night.  St. Martin did not disappoint and we had another competely enjoyable day.