I think our first trip to SXM was in 02. And we’ve generally come back every 2-3 years. Our RCI timeshare @La Terasse was our first “done with school” splurge. We love SXM for the dual culture experience & hoped one day when we had kids they would experience it. Though Im a native NYer, my folks are Haitian and I haven’t been there since ’79, just too dangerous. So SXM really is a strong glimpse at my family’s culture. Day 1 Sunday-welcome back
Left the house @ 0512, arrive @ JFK T5 TSAPrecheck line at 0550, we were past the TSA
@0602 for the nonstop JFK to SXM on 2/20/22 8AM departure. ****(Good reference for those wanting to know how early you should get to the airport.)***
I prefer to speed walk all over the terminal before flights being that I’ll be sitting for a while once onboard.
Arrived @SXM, the covid verification was a bit redundant. Off the plane, and first stop was a covid desk asking to see vax cards & tests (which we just uploaded the night before…) and checked before BOARDING the plane…. How many times do you need to check it …really? Oh and as far as masks on the plane, fact: the pilots don’t wear masks(understandable) or get tested prior to each flight(interesting.…) So they themselves take a risk with every new pilot they fly with….food for thought.
Past immigration, outside to Shirley from KennysCarRental and we were in car “R1” on the island. We drew a lot of cool attention with this license plate
We were at Driftwood within 45 minutes of landing. Time is an appreciating asset. That’s how we value our time. We wanted our vacation spot to have nonstop flights & to be at the beach within an hour of landing. Kids had shawarma, pizza & I had Creole shrimp. Perfect and on point then took on the waves at Maho. I had an order to Jeannie from shopndrop but placed it too late so we loaded up on groceries for the week at Market Garden in Simpson.
Ever since we took our firstborn at …18 months old, we have this wonderful memory of him licking every last melted drop of Etna’s Rhum Raisin Ice Cream
from a cup. As he finished the ice cream, he turns the cup upside down and is reveling in every last drop, sweeping in the drops with a spoon. So each trip, we start with Etna’s in the freezer as a staple for the week along with Disfruitas Tropical juices.
So then dessert in the room then we crashed to sleep probably around 2100. Day 2 Monday-chillax
Woke up nice and late and I headed to Papayas next to Maho Market for coffee. Walked back to the room & had eggs every morning to start. We had no plans today but there was an emphasis this trip to expose the kids to more French now that they are learning it in school. So off to MARIGOT we went.
Instead of the bridge, we took the ‘old traditional’ way around to Marigot, west past Mullet and Cupecoy. I love showing the kids the differences between the sides of the island.
Once in Marigot, I felt we were in Haiti. I spoke some French and creole, bought some shades and a shirt for our kids and looked through license plates. Then we had a lager and smoothies at a shop that had hanging chairs where the kids sat. There’s an old statue of the marchande Marigot lady that our son climbed when he was a toddler. After a bit of exploring, it was time to head back to Maho. We spent most of the afternoon @ La Terasse poolside, saw the Patriots Jet take off (not a Pats fan and even less a fan when they took off in the reverse direction lol). Later that evening we strolled around Maho and opted for Three Amigos.
The wife had a taco chicken salad which was huge. I had the mushroom chicken, which was really amazing IMHO it was about a breast and a half of chicken in a nice creamy cognac sauce. Well done. Our son had tacos and daughter had the burrito. Portions were pretty big and the ladies took food back to the condo.
Back to the room for Etna’s RhumRaisin & also Cookies and Cream. And sat on our deck enjoying our terrace. Day 3, Tuesday-surfs up, Jedis
we planned to try surfing as a family. (I first ski/snowboarded at 30, so of course I’d try surfing in my 40s when I grew up in a surf town…..where’s my sarcasm font?)
On vacay, I’m always the first up and let wifey sleep. (And rightfully so as she’s up at 6:30 am getting the kids to school as I snore) Once up, I crept out to Maho Market for coffee and fresh French baguettes. At $1.25, it’s a steal.
Once we were all awake and ate breakfast, we applied sunscreen and drove out to La Galion Beach to surf.
We first heard of La Galion from a friend years ago and it was AMAZING if you had babies as the waters were SUPER calm and still are. Our tradition was to go the the Butterfly Farm first then Galion 1 minute away. Irma destroyed the Butterfly farm but the beach is still there without ANY amenities. We still highly recommend it for small children or for QUIET.
Arriving at Galion was Thibault from SXMSurfExplorer.
We took a 2 hr course with him. A bit of land instruction they we walk out to his boat and drove about a mile from Galion where the waves surge. It's pretty wild how calm the beach is and how wild the waves were a mile away. Nature’s greatest set up to accommodate all. Of the 4 of us, my wife and son were able to stand up and surf a bit. My daughter hated it and to be honest, it was tough on the body. The paddling back on the board was the roughest part. But worth it IMHO.
After surfing, we headed into Phillipsburg to see Nick Maley, the Yoda Guy.
If you are into ANY SciFI or special effects, not just Star Wars, this is a must see. It's a small museum detailing the behind the scenes effects from Star Wars and other movies and Mr. Maley worked on them. We’d been there in years past. Bought a few pictures that he signed for us. If you have children or grandkids, I would highly recommend meeting him. He really gives the kids a strong positive message about working hard and following their dreams. Walked past Old Man Guavaberry and it had a sign on it Dated Feb 2022 saying it was closing (though not clear if closing forever)
From there, we walked to Greenhouse
for Two-fors and wifi during Happy Hour. The kids had smoothies and we had margaritas. I called my parents and as I’m drinking, Mom tells me it’s National Margarita Day LOL. Took funny.
Headed back toward Maho and stopped @ Captains Rib
for take out. We got ourselves a rack of ribs and some sides. Honestly, the flavoring was there but we felt the ribs were just a wee bit dry. Not bad, just not as good as we remember. Then back to La Terasse again, we’d walk around Maho. Lots of new restaurants, steak, Japanese, piano lounge, all back. New Construction going on at Cherries. Lots of cats chillin. I think they added a nice terrace on TOP of the casino? I’ll try to post pics. Day 4 Weds- Mullets and shawarma
Again, I love SXM vacay, no plans, just take it easy. So after breakfast we decided to take a drive to Mullet (never actually hung out there). It was AMAZING. BUT BRING CASH. Parked and a guy named Chester corralled us over, $20 for a set of chairs and umbrella and he told us they have the best ribs on the island. He blessed us and the kids, pleasant guy.
We arrived around 10:15, not busy, just relaxed. The waves were pretty good and the kids loved it. My son actually sat out most of the time b.c his chest was sore from surfing the day before. I also did a bit of snorkeling there, saw some fish. Once hungry, I did order a plate of ribs rice and chicken. Wow. Just Wow, the ribs were incredible. Blew away Captains. Rosa’s ribs. Just wow….. I'm salivating now. ***pauses and grabs a beer*. Ok Im back with a coffee milk stout appropriately called, wait for it…. Hold On To Sunshine. Its sunny here but about 40 degrees cooler ***
Saw a few boats moored in Mullet, sailboats & a few speedboats. Saw one yellow one come by, pause then bail out….more on that later…
We spent a good 4-5 hrs there before heading back to the room, showered and headed out to Little Jerusalem in Simpson Bay. We joke about the shawarma scene in one of the Marvel movies so we had to. We ordered the Famous and the Special shawarmas for the ladies and I. While there, another patron waiting for food asked about my plate, R1. He explained that R1 means it was the first rental on the island. (Kenny, can you corroborate?)
And he was proudly driving M50, a black Civic).
Back at the condo, we tore into our shawarma like ravenous vultures.. So savory and loaded with nutrients. Excellent spice profiles. And the proud owners were really nice and cool peeps. Ended the night sashaying around Maho again. It was our ritual. Day 5 -Loterie, Marigot, Moulin
I started workin out at 32, live a pretty low carb life & allow for certain indulgences…so I didn’t drink beer for a few weeks before SXM in order to allow for indulgence….
My SXM staple breakfast is 2-4 eggs, French bread, coffee & either pineapple or tropical juice….so that is how we started this AM. From there. We headed to Loterie Farms and did the zip-line course.
We do ziplines at home so this was cool as it was through their rainforest. And with 12/15 yo kids, I suggest the Flyzipline; It creates build up & something to look forward to. We’ll do the Extreme one next time. Chris was our guide. It was a nice course, nice way to break a sweat and enjoy the lushness and lizards around. When we were done, I noticed a raised garden they had in the back for their herbs, all in Champagne boxes. Now, we just finished a $500k, 11 month long reno on our home & have to finish the yard this year. I’m lost as to what we should do for the yard but their garden definitely inspired me!
Rather than eat there, we headed to Marigot. There were many Haitian Creole places, we chose one and had griot (fried pork), rice and beans. Avocado salad. The food was good but not my mothers. And honestly, I’m a little teary eyed now. Time is an appreciating asset. Gonna give my folks a call and have dinner.
After lunch, we walked Marigot again. My son tried catching pigeons (came close). Then drove up to Fort Louis for photos. Again, these are all spots we’ve taken the kids to so its merely tradition. Fort Louis, Etna’s, Maho. But as they get older, it’s tougher to find interests…..so least it seems.
Back to the condo @La Terasse, showered and cut a deal with the kids. As you know, they love electronics. So in order to check their phones, they had to speak French. I saw the Maitre’d at Moulin Fou,
same guy for YEARS and grabbed a table. Took videos of the kids ordering and speaking. They need that immersion, you know?
I had the chicken, daughter had….a salmon dish, wife had a seared tuna special (awesome) & our son, linguine in butter….LOL. I told the waitstaff the kids had to speak French to eat. They encouraged the kids, awesome. The food taste and presentation was INCREDIBLE. I loved the truffled mashed potatoes, which I didn’t expect.
At the end of the meal, I had the kids, knowing there was more Etnas ice cream to finish, say in French that we would return the next day for dessert and I had the other ask for the check. The waiters loved it and encouraged it. @ the end of the meal, they left a bottle of …..Amaretto coffee rhum shots. WOW, such deep flavors. Day 5 - le bateau…. aka the boat
So, since jetBlue MINT was taken away on our flight, we were refunded the $ and I decided on a splurge. With covid & physical distancing in mind (it’s not social distancing, it's physical distancing….another rant, can you tell I’m a disciple of George Carlin?), I chartered a boat for the full day. Having heard how windy it was a few weeks ago, I kept in touch w the Capt who suggested pushing the trip to this day.
I love buying things when they are cheap but also value time. Although vaxxed, it was irrelevant if I got covid & had patients to see in a few days. So we rented a boat and it was ASTOUNDING. A private boat was about $750+/day which is less than what 10 days quarantine would have done to my business. Would I have done this without covid? Nope. Was it worth it? Holy hell yes. The kids LOVED IT.
What’s not to love? It was private. Just us 4 and the captain on a boat for 12. We arrived at 0900 and met our captain/owner. Captain Alan is of Netherlands descent and gave us some in-depth background knowledge of the high points. Beers, rum punch, sodas, waters , sandwiches, salads and snorkel gear were included. It was a 37 footer. We started out of Oyster Pond & went clockwise around the island. We were just looking to relax, snorkel, take in the sun. No agenda but we were floored at how enjoyable it was.
Highlights: Lovely day with moderate waves. We had 5 minutes of a rain shower in the AM. Made it south past Guana Bay, Pointe Blanche, and all the lovely homes and pastel of colors. Past ships nearing Phillipsburg then dropped anchor at Divi/Little Bay (which I heard about here but never visited).
At Divi/Little Bay, the Capt mentioned snorkeling and there were were cannons, a statue, a pier, a helicopter and a plane beneath. The Heineken plane! That was a wild random surprise. It was somewhat macabre seeing the plane loom into visibility, almost as if coming upon an underwater cemetery. Very cool as we’ve taken the kids to see the plane as kids and now they are seeing how it evolved into something different. My son was able to snorkel down and touch it. I went down a few times & banged on the hull and also tried to “wipe” the windows. LOL. Pretty cool.
From there, we continued past Abramovichs boats, the Eclipse and the other one…. Past Maho and the new Morgan, over to Mullet. I never knew the Mullet story and Capt Alan told us how he used to hang out there as a kid, explaining all the foundations at the waters edge. He sadly felt soon it would be all high-rises.
From there, we skipped past the border into the French side into Long Bay & La Semanna Beach. We dropped anchor there. My family and I were just taking turns jumping off the boat into the waters. My son was doing flips off the boat. They LOVED IT.
The Capt’s wife prepared chips and salsa and a wonderful guacamole salad which we LOVED. We are guacaholics. (As a Haitian kid, I never understood nor wanted to try the Sunday AM breakfast we had of avocado and toast….dating back to the 80s. Now it is a hipster fad!! LOL)
From there, we continued around the island toward Marigot. We saw Trump's Marilago and Harry Belafonte’s old place… looped around to Friars Bay and Happy bay, neither of which we’d visited yet. Nude doods!
Then north to …Grand Case. We dropped anchor again just north of the pier and snorkeled. Had lunch on the boat. The ladies went landside to use the loos while my son and I kept leaping off the roof of the boat. Loved it! The Capt's wife prepared sandwiches, a pasta salad and fruit salad. Lovely.
From Grand Case, we headed north to Creole Rock. This is a snorkeling spot opposite Bell Hill/Anse Marcel. Spectacular fish and snorkeling. For us, it was fitting as Bell Point highlights a family name and Creole highlights our heritage.
While there, we did run into the Rhino Tour guys. I asked the kids if they wanted to do that next time. They are already asking us to book the next boat trip lol. 😂
From Creole Rock, we hightailed the rough seas to Tintemarre. Very nice beach, calm surf, more flips off the boat. A short hike on the island took us to hermit crab central. LOL hermit crabs were the size of baseballs.
From there, we looped past Pinel, which we relaxed a a few years ago. Then past Orient Bay, never really having been there. Saw a multitude of wind surfers and will try that instead of surfing next year LOL.
We powered back into Oyster Pond having spent an AMAZING day. You need never really know what your kids will like so we keep throwing experiences at them. This past covid summer, I was taking them 4x4ing on the beaches of Long Island.
Suffice to say, we’ll book another daylong boat trip next time! Days 6- time to head home.
Another late-ish wake up at La Teresse=Means eating any food we have left. Made sandwiches for the ride home, checked out by 0930 and headed to Driftwood for our last rum punches. As we sat, we saw our flight delayed 2 hrs. Or course, we’re at the privy of airlines and you technically still need to get to the airport at the “typical time”, 3 hrs ahead of takeoff. Being we were at Driftwood, we took our time. Got to PJIA and got on line. Got boarding passes and past security ( but not before they confiscated the ultra dangerous peanut butter in the jar. Yes, the nefarious dangerous peanut butter that can down an aircraft. But they didn’t confiscate the 11 inch long peanut butter and jelly sandwich…draw your own conclusions. I digress)
Once in PJIA, we inventoried duty free options & ended up with Guavaberry, Barbancourt and Gozio at great prices. Apparently we overpaid for Veuve CLiquot in a cool SXM tin, all good.
With delayed flights, we had our last rum punch in the airport…..near gates 1-8, I love how they apparently took what looks like an old luggage carousel and turned it into a bar and arts wall for local kids.
Took a pic of a gateway that is still standing after IRMA, somewhat surreal. Rather than rebuilding in aluminum, they should emulate the old concrete jetways that JFK had in the 80s. May outlast a hurricane being that the “new”PJIA” lasted, what, 3-4 years?
Unlike most here, I LOVE boarding from the ramp of the airport. It adds a certain element of simpler vintage times. I love those last breathes of St Martin Air and jet fuel before sitting for 3+ hours.
That’s all I got. Tryin to throw up pics....from an iPhone 11/iPhotos. any tips? its a PITA so far. just checked iPhone pics and it says MG_7627.HEIC instead of jpeg. no idea how to change. EDITED BY CAROL HILL TO ADD DESCRIPTIONS OF ATTACHED PICTURES.
pic details, from L to R, row by row.
1.Silouhuette of the kids in Maho Beach
2.horses now at La Galion
3.tuna tatiki @ Moulin Fou
(BTW MF has this amazing mash potato, hints of truffle, delectable.)
5.my ladies at la Galion beach (note how clear and calm the water is but the surf break was wild in background and that boat took us out to the surfbreak for lessons.
6.Jedi crew shirt @ Yoda Guy museum (notice anything? trivia)
7. R2D2 crew pic @ Yoda Museum.
8. overview of Maho, showing terrace on casino roof which I dont recall)
9. on our boat, looking back @ the old Abramovich boat IIRC.
10.new Abramovich boat Eclipse.
11. profiterole and gelato dessert at MFou
12.my beloved in the shade of the boat.
13.one of 2 old jet bridges destroyed but still there. Eerie.
14. damn duplicate. those IPAs threw me off last night
15. baked then flambéd Camembert w apples on fire.