Our final destination before returning to Puerto Rico was Saint Martin. Prior to reaching the cruise port, we learned that this was actually divided into two countries! Saint-Martin, the northern French side, and Sint Maarten, the southern Dutch side.
After picking up our rental car, we made our first attempt to reach Simpson Bay (southern Dutch side). We got lost and found ourselves in the northern French side of the island. Our hearts sank when we saw the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma from 2017. Countless capsized yachts, abandoned hotels, shut-down stores and damaged homes. We drove around, feeling the gloom and imagining how this place must have been a thriving tourist spot before tragedy hit. We kept driving, and eventually circled back to the Dutch side which clearly recovered sooner than its French counterpart. And I remembered how I once read, that the best way to help calamity-stricken Caribbean islands with their recovery is by visiting and supporting their tourism.
We wanted to go on a scuba diving excursion, but we did not have enough time in the island. We were happy to reach Simpson Bay and stayed at the Bucaneer Beach Bar in Kim Sha Beach where we indulged in some calamari, and rum and fruit shakes. We weren’t in a hurry to leave and managed to meet some locals. One of them offered massage service by the beach. She is from the northern French side and has moved her enterprise to the Dutch side, hopeful that soon, people will start visiting Saint-Martin again. Another local suggested we drive to the famous Maho Beach before heading back to the cruise port.
Maho Beach is popular for plane spotting. It is located at the western end of runway 10 of Princess Juliana International Maho Airport (SMX). Big and small planes swoop so low and close to the small beach, that this has become a Caribbean attraction.
We spent our last hour in Maho Beach, where we were lucky enough to catch a KLM flight landing just before it was time to head back to our ship.
Our Saint Martin excursion was a mellow end to this Caribbean adventure. If we had known it was going to be more beautiful than we had imagined, we would have booked a back to back cruise, so we could visit more islands. This does give us an excuse to keep coming back. Like I said in the beginning, this trip has inspired us to visit all the places in the Beach Boys’ Kokomo!
Zie je volgend jaar Caraïben!