But, I didn't want to forget to share with you my favorite places to eat and drink in St. Martin and Sint Maarten.
First of all, everyone will ask you, are you staying on the Dutch or French side? I was staying in Orient Beach, on the French side. And, mon dieu, was that the right move. The first place we went was the grocery and it was as if the markets filled with rosé from southern France had been transported to the Caribbean! Walls of rosé. Rosé in the refrigerators next to the sodas. Rosé at all of the beachside bars. And, good rosé. Pale rosé. Provence rosé.
But, back to food and drink... Orient Beach was a great spot to stay. The neighborhood was quaint, fairly quiet. The condo we were staying at was walking distance to the beach and an array of good restaurants. The beach is lined with open air beach bars and bistros that are fun to hop between.
We also loved that you can rent two beach chairs, with an umbrella, all day for twenty Euro (dollars were also accepted almost everywhere) which also got you wifi and restroom access. We found that you could negotiate a bit, and often got four chairs for our group for thirty Euro. Each place also serves out on the beach, so cocktails and food come to you.
Where to Eat for Breakfast
Our regular became Coco Beach while in Orient Bay. Their staff was incredibly sweet, the view amazing and their breakfasts delicious and abundant. We ate at Coco Beach for breakfast three times, and even stayed and rented chairs with them one day. They are on the quieter end of the beach, so it was nice to relax and unwind on that end one day.
|Breakfast View from Coco Beach|
|Le Noon at Orient Beach (OPEN SUNDAY)|
One of my favorite moments of the week was watching the Euro Cup Finals (which France lost) amid a slew of French folks. Here's why I love French people. I know they have a reputation for rudeness... and I mean... if you're just randomly speaking English to them, I get it. My experience has always been that if you attempt French and smile, you're likely to get a decent reception.
|Sunset at KaKao|
KaKao was slammed. Every table and every seat were taken. We jammed up to the bar and ordered a bottle of rosé. People were tossing back magnums like they were Bud Lights on college football night in the US. It was amazing. The French lost. A glass shattered. Everyone went back to their wine and spilled out on to the beach. An American football was tossed around. Stray dogs were loved on. We sipped our wine out of plastic cups smuggled out of the White House. It was an epic day. What I'm trying to tell you is... KaKao was fun. It's also hilarious to say over and over after way too much wine.
To the immediate left is Bikini Beach. I ended up going there for my last sunset - on an evening where I was flying solo. I brought a book. I listened to Frenchmen and tried to understand a word or two. I watched a breathtaking sunset go down in the books. And, I Googled how to say "One more rosé, si vous plait." It was wonderful.
|Sunset at Bikini Beach|
Where to Eat a Healthy Lunch
After a week carousing with my friends, I found myself adventuring solo and craving some serious greens. I set my Google Map to go to Joga which promised healthy eats and yoga. It's a little hard to find and is set off the road, but worse... it was closed. Maybe for the season? There was no sign. And, I was on the opposite side of the island with no plan.
I ended up driving a little bit up the road and happily stumbled upon Top Carrot in Simpson Bay. I was revived by green juices and fresh salads. And, then took a walk around the cute neighborhood.
|Salad at Top Carrot|
Where to Watch Planes Land with Cheap Coronas and Average Nachos
Sunset Bar & Grill. It's cool. You have to do it once. But, this is a food and drink post, so let's move on.
|Sunset Bar & Grill watching planes land|
Oddly, my favorite French bakery was on the Dutch side. I found cute little waterfront La Suciere right after my health Top Carrot lunch. Naturally, I proceeded to eat four of their macarons while taking a conference call back in the States. It was one of my favorite moments. A life is really, really good moment. I picked up chocolate almond croissants to eat on the way to the airport the next day.
|Macarons at La Suciere|
I was having a girls weekend. But we drank and ate at a few spots that would have made a pretty epic date location. Two come to mind in the Grand Case neighborhood - Sunset Cafe and Le Tastevin. Both had jaw-dropping sunset views, fantastic wine lists and fresh seafood (amongst other choices.) Staff at both places were friendly and shared recommendations that made our meals memorable. Both were also sweet about plugging in our dying iPhones.
|Sunset Cafe rosé with the fabulous Jennifer Keene|
Sint Maarten Yacht Club. Gorgeous view. Solid food. Great staff. Awesome t-shirts and gear to take home. Bar full of amusing randoms.
Where to Avoid Like the Plague
We landed late Saturday night, so our first big meal choice was a Sunday. I had read online that most places close on Sundays and found that to be largely true. One that it said was always open and serving brunch was the Westin Dawn Beach. I'm a fairly active Starwood SPG member, so I was wanting to check out the brunch, the hotel and the beach for future trips. We planned to rent a cabana until we were ready for the brunch and then make that home base for the day. Well, PSA: If you are not staying at the hotel, do not try to go there. Staff swarmed down on us and told us we were not allowed on the beach or in the pool. We were not allowed to rent cabanas or sit at tables. The only place we could sit was at the six seat pool bar on the bar stools. Well, that was tacky and awkward to sit in the shade with our beach bags and such. We ended up bailing and decided to just eat brunch before leaving. Bigger mistake. It's an all you can eat, flat price deal... which should have been a red flag... but we were there and hungry. The seafood was watery at best and questionable at worst. Service was glacial (and I don't mean temperatures.) The sushi rice was dyed purple and green. The ice cream bar had melted. The chocolate fountain was out of things to dip in it. The best thing I ate out of the whole experience was the potato gratin. Yeah. Skip that spot.
Best Non-Food and Drink Tip
Rent a Jeep (mine came from Avis). The weather was perfection and we took the top off for the entire week. It made the visit so much more fun to have an open view and the wind in our hair.
|On SXM, we Jeep|