1st time poster, love the forum that you have here!
We're making our 1st trip to St Martin in a few weeks. I've loved reading your stories & insights into St Martin & have a few questions for you experts.
We fly Winair from SJU to SXM midday on a Friday. Any tips or thoughts on that flight? We've not traveled much & this will be our 1st small carrier between islands.
Renting a car at SXM for 4 days. I've read that many highly recommend Kenny's. But I'll probably book thru the Chase Travel Portal so that we have $0 out of pocket. I'm looking at a convertible Mini from Greenmotion @ SXM for $173 total. Or maybe a sedan from Alamo/National/Mex for ~$220-250. Booked on a Sapphire Reserve so that should cover liability. Comments or suggestions are welcome.
We're staying 4 nights at Secrets St Martin. Recent reviews seem to be all over the place but we're Hyatt Globalists & a free stay on points dictates our lodging. Any thoughts on this resort? Or the protected bay there? Any sargassum here?
wrt things to do, we're pretty content to lay on the beach & eat/drink for free but would like a small number of experiences while on the island.
Definitely want to experience the planes at Maho. Planning to park @ Sunset Beach Bar, get a drink, & then walk to the airport fence area. Can you watch the fun from the bar? I think we want to get pretty close but stay just long enough to say that we did it.
Pinel Island looked great but those sargassum pics are crazy. Is it still worth going over there?
Any suggestions for 1 or 2 beaches, hikes, spots that we simply can't miss?
And what would be the 2 or 3 other things that 1st time visitors must see/do/eat/experience?
Thanks again for sharing. Your discussions have already been incredibly helpful to us!
Regarding the trip on Winair, be prepared for the real possibility that you cannot take anything bigger than a briefcase onboard. And be prepared with WATER, as in all likelihood, it is going to be HOT until you get off the ground. Small planes don't have access to a/c while on the ground, usually. Once you get off the ground, it should be a beautiful, very scenic flight! Hopefully there won't be any big planes landing around the same time and immigration in SXM will be a walk-up breeze.
Regarding car rental, since you are staying at Secrets DO NOT!!! get the mini!! The road going in and out of Secrets is very steep and a mini might not have enough power to get up and down that hill.
Regarding the resort in particular, most here do not do a/i in SXM, so not much knowledge here regarding Secrets, other than, from reports, the Secrets on SXM is not up to par with Secrets elsewhere. That bay is also home to Anse Marcel Beach Club, which is an EXTREMELY high end restaurant, not affiliated with Secrets. It will set you back probably $200, more or less, for a meal there, but worth it, in my opinion. The beach there is always dead flat calm, with very clear water, going out some distance. Beautiful water there. Regarding sargassum there, there should not be a problem with seaweed there, since it is on the north coast, and the beaches with the biggest concentration of sargassum are on the east coast of the island.
Regarding Maho, you can definitely see the planes from the bar, yes, just get up along the rail closer to the beach. My suggestion would be to pick a date on the cruise ship calendar (link at the top of the page here) when there are not going to be any ships in. Sunset will be calm and you won't have any problem finding a place to sit. OR, if you LIKE a crazy scene, pick a day when there is more than one ship in, if there are any, and watch stupid people stand and walk in the road.
To ME, I wouldn't bother to go to Pinel, since you are only going to be on island for 4 days, and the seaweed will still be an issue at the ferry dock, although not at Pinel. People often go to Pinel for the calm water, which you will have in spades at Secrets.
For other things to do on island, if you like shopping, Philipsburg is the place for that. High end stuff, as well as junk souvenir shops. Do NOT go to P'burg on Sunday if there are no ships in, as the shops will be closed. I would normally say go to Orient, but not sure what the sargassum situation will be. It was horrific last weekend, but they have cleaned up some now.
I would go to Mullet, which is a classic SXM beach. Do NOT go there on Sunday, as locals all go to the beach on Sunday and it will be very crowded and you need to be careful where you park, or you could get parked in. I personally would go to Rosie's, which is a classic beach bar, at the end closest to Maho. Da Watering Hole is on that end also, and it is a bit more upscale and does have real bathrooms, which Rosie's does not.
A word regarding safety here--Overall, SXM is relatively safe, but stuff left in cars in particular are a theft magnet. Do NOT leave anything in your car, at ANY time, at ANY place, for ANY length of time. In particular, do NOT stop anywhere on your way to or from the airport and leave your bags in the car. As far as safety in general, do not flash around large sums of cash or expensive jewelry or expensive 'toys', like I pads, etc. If you travel from the French side to the Dutch side after night, be careful driving through Marigot after night and definitely avoid Sandy Ground after night.
Enjoy your stay and please let us know all about your trip afterward and hopefully take some pictures to share also!!
1. Rent from SAX Best service on the island with Cindy and her lovely husband Anil Puran. https://www.saxcarrental.com/ 2. must have Bloody Mary and breakfast at The Yacht club! 3. Driftwood has better drinks and food to watch the planes landing! 4. Bring plenty of high number sun block!! 5. Fine dinning at Subline in Maho village. 6. Greenhouse for the Prime rib night special!! 7. Fun adventure on the Rhino Safari riders around the west end of the island with snorkeling at Creole rock! Ask for Leo! https://www.rhinotours.com/ Just to name a few things. Next trip book with Tracy Mascarin at Beachside villa's, you will want for nothing!! http://www.beachsidevillas.com/
Many ideas will be forthcoming but it will be important to understand different points of view. For instance Colour1 recommends the Rhino Riders. And for the younger set, they are likely a lot of fun. I went several years ago and wound up with some fairly bad back pain from all the bouncing on the waves!
My husband and I booked a private tour with Eagle tours at the height of Covid. We went on a boat with just the two of us and a captain and first mate. It was fantastic. Just a lovely way to see St Maarten.
Everyone should go to Sunset beach bar once. But the few times I have been there have been more than enough for me. The stupid people hanging on the fence during a jet take off. Do you really need to feel sandblasted? That said, as a former flight student (never made it to getting my license), it is amazing to watch the planes landing there.
Re: First Visit to St Martin
#286970 08/04/202209:46 AM08/04/202209:46 AM
lcote--It's kind of hard to hang onto the fence anymore, as they put up a second fence, but I get you. Mostly people who want a thrill stand on the beach now and get blown into the water.. As David said, you can sit at Driftwood also and watch the planes. I disagree that the food is better at Driftwood, but it is a more classic beach bar feel than Sunset. Parking is often very difficult at Driftwood also. For Sunset, there is plenty of parking, you just have to get your parking ticket validated at Sunset, otherwise it's like $5 for parking at Sunset?? Not sure.
Good morning to both of you and welcome! I think/ hope you find SXM addictive like most of us here have. I cannot comment on where you are staying other than to say the beach is wonderful the road in and out is 'challenging' (especially if it rails...) going to Maho is an experience but remember that SBB is not the only bar on the beach. Driftwood has an excellent vibe and really good food and drinks. If you get the FlightRadar app you can get advance look ant what's coming in too. Pinel is a great place to spend the day. Not sure what is going in with the seaweed though... One of our favorite places is Friar's Bay Beach Cafe - beach food elevated! A trip to either the Marigot Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and/ or Phippsburg for people watching when the cruise ships are in is always a good time too. if you have the time (and the inclination) Mullet should be on your list as well. In any case have a great time and meet people! cjr