Snorkeling, Beaches and Town via a Circle tour of Sint Maarten / Saint Martin
A common thing to do on the island is a circle tour. We decided to rent a car for the day whilst in port and do our own circle tour and stop wherever and whenever we wanted to. We picked up from Hertz near the cruise terminal without having a reservation (and there were five ships due that day). Our route took us anti-clockwise so we could best avoid traffic coming back when all the ships load up on guests.
Our first stop of course was a french bakery we found along the way – lots of them – so pick one. Then of course we had to stop at McDonalds (bathroom break and coffee). We rounded the beaches by the airport which are always nice – our goal was to discover a few interesting snorkeling options. We finally managed to get into one that was gated (gate open, no guard) called Baie Rouge.
It was a stunning beach and totally empty – there was a beach bar all the way down in an obviously public access area that we didn’t get to. But for the most part there was a small walk down to the beach and no one else there. The snorkeling was very good but not out of this world great – certainly worth the stop though.
We spent a good hour or so at the beach and even was able to change in a very small lifeguard type shelter that was on the beach. We continued our circle tour of the island and had to stop in Marigot, the French capitol, for some shopping and some lunch.
We finally found parking past the West Indies Mall and walked into the town center, a short couple minutes walk. We spent a bit of time in the mall and walked down to the Rue de la Liberte where we found a shoe store with some great tennis shoes by maker Patrick for sale for 42USD or 30 Euros. I had to have them as I had never seen them in the states. And then a bit of hunger got to us.
We found a nice table in the shady overhang of Le Bistro de la Mer right on the main street and within easy smelling distance of automobile fumes. Nonetheless we were hungry and they had snails on the menu so I was set. My partner had a chicken Cesar salad and he still raves about it as being the best he has ever had – yes EVER.
From Marigot, after lunch and shopping, we set out to continue our circle around the island. We went past a supermarket and meant to stop to load up on some souvenirs but continued on the main road and tried to hug the coast as much as we could. We came upon the Coralita Beach and got out to marvel at the sight and the incredible waters. It is easy to see why this is a protected site. It is incredible.
There is a wooden structure you can climb and get a good view of the entire bay. A bit further down you can see the beaches Le Gallion and Coconut Grove.
We decided not to go snorkeling here – I am not even sure if it is allowed in this particular location – and we wanted to move on closer to the cruise port so we knew how much time to allow for a more lengthy snorkeling stop. Certainly some of the beaches near here would allow for snorkeling but right in front of us it was clearly a protected site.
We drove to Guana Bay after passing by Dawn Beach which is also highly recommended. Guana Bay had two people on it and one car at the end of the lane with a path to the beach. It was pretty isolated and beautiful. It is in an area that has very nice houses too. I remember passing the David Brenner estate on the way in.
We decided we would just go in the water and not snorkel due to time and it was wonderful. There is an abandoned club right at the end of the lane on the beach. And a house under construction on the other side. Another couple was on the beach and when they left we did too. When we got to our car we noticed the back window was broken in and our backpack on the back seat had been stolen. The other couple were lucky and had no such damage and probably startled the thief when they came up the path from the beach because nothing else was stolen from our rental car thankfully. And we had not much of anything in the backpack – except a birth certificate and camera and both are easily replaced (a pain, yes).
I have written about the break-in elsewhere on this site. Suffice to say that when doing your circle trip to be careful at all times – especially on the Dutch side of the island from what we hear. Enjoy your circle tour of the island though.