Exploring Sint Maarten

I’m already a day behind, as we’re now sailing from Saint Lucia to Barbados, but here’s what happened before that 🙂

November 5: Winds of 30-35 knots caused the outside decks to be closed for 2 days.

Having a nice breakfast delivered to our cabin is one of the pleasures we’re indulging in on this cruise. What a nice calm way to start the day.

November 6: It took me a few tries to get this shot – walking out of the air-conditioned ship, my camera lens kept fogging up. The weather read-out on the TV says that the humidity is 68% but I don’t really believe that. The temperature at 6:06 when I shot this was 84°F 🙂

Passing Anguilla at 06:35 – this was the first land we’d seen since leaving Fort Lauderdale.

It was great to see Sint Maarten again. The last time we visited it was extremely crowded and we saw almost nothing except a few blocks of Philipsburg. The Carnival Victory was the only other ship in port with us this time.

This statue honours Dr. Albert Claudius “Claude” Wathey, who was the driving force behind construction of the cruise ship facility that bears his name. He unfortunately died in 1999 without seeing his dream completed.

Doing a bit of exploring while waiting for our tour, I saw a cool customized van with “Bernard’s Taxi & Private Tours” on the door. A cooler beside it was being loaded with ice, pop and beer – alright, we be jammin’ man!!!

For folks who want to pick up a short independent tour at the pier, this sign makes it easy to see the options and prices for various tours (up to 3 hours) and numbers of people.

Crowds of people walking from the ship to the cruiseline-booked tour buses. We very, very seldom book tours of any kind through the ship – smaller may not be cheaper (though it sometimes is) but it’s always better (if you do your research ahead of time and go with someone you’ve seen good reviews of).

We met Bernard, boarded the van with 8 other people for both ships, and began our counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island by skirting around Philipsburg and the Great Salt Pond. This photo was shot at 9:25am.

I was surprised by the rather desert-like ecology on the east side of the island.

At 9:50 we stopped at a beach where Bernard had arranged for this old fellow to collect a bunch of shells and sea-life for us to look at.

The big beastie living inside the conch was very cool.

The next stop was Orient Beach, which rates 10 out of 10 on our scale. I put this photo in to show how developed it is, but it is perfect – soft sand, warm water, good services if you want them, etc, etc.

“Lower” Orient Beach is officially clothing optional, and is probably the most famous nude beach in the world. When you park your car, you go to the right to avoid any tan lines…

…and to the left if wearing something is more your style. Even to the left, though, topless is legal, and the bottom can be just a thong.

Marigot is a lovely community, and I’d love to spend more time there. I didn’t even get to have a close look at the fort on top of the hill!

There’s a very large open-air market in dowtown Marigot. Though there’s not a lot of variety among the stalls, it is colourful and fun.

This large hotel complex was destroyed by a hurricane about 15 years ago and never rebuilt.

On the way back to the ship, we spent about 40 minutes at Maho Beach, famous around the world for its low aircraft approaches over the beach. There are some fun videos on YouTube showing people standing right under the approach but the photography is better from back by the Sunset Bar.

We had to leave a few minutes before a large Air France arrived, but this Delta was pretty good.

Good-bye St. Maarten! We had an excellent day, and will certainly be back to see more, hopefully in a resort for a week or so.

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