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Real Adventures on St Marten

Phillipsburgh St Maarten was our 2nd stop of the cruise.  This was the only island where we actually booked a proper tour, mostly because it was so inexpensive and there didn’t seem to be a lot of things to do, or at least not stuff we could do on our own.  By taking the tour we ended up seeing a lot more than we would have on our own.  In the end it was the best visit we had due to a combination of the amount of things we were able to see and the ginormous family we shared the tour bus with.  There were 20 of them plus us, and they were so awesome that they helped make our day.

We went with Jo Junie tours.  The cost was $40 per person and that included all you can drink refreshments.  The tour was a little different from what was advertised but none of us were complaining.  We hopped on the bus, got our drinks, got to know the others a little.  I must say again, what a fabulous group!  I was a little worried about being surrounded by such a large group that we didn’t know but they made us feel right at home.  Our first stop was at an iguana farm which was totally Chelsea’s thing.  Growing up she had geckos and always wanted an iguana, so she took about 50 pictures.  It was neat to see them all running around in their natural environment.  The largest was over 15 pounds!

The next stop was Orient Bay where we were treated to the site of the most beautiful ocean view I’ve ever seen along with some coral and sea animals that had been brought up for us by a local.  I actually got up the nerve to hold one of the animals and wow, was it weird.  In the picture it looks sort of soft and fluffy, it wasn’t.  More prickly, and the thing was constantly *moving.*  You can see Chelsea’s reaction in the picture.  After that we headed in to Marigot for a short shopping trip.  Marigot was beautiful.  It is called the French Riviera of the Caribbean, and I can totally see that.  We were under a bit of time constraint at that point so we all quickly hopped out to grab a souvenir or two then hopped back on for our last stop.

Our last stop was Maho Bay/Sunset Beach.  Stunning, just absolutely stunning.  Not only was the beach downright gorgeous but it’s draw is that it’s so close to the airport that the planes get so close you can practically touch them when they come in for landing.  I’m told you can see the pilots, although I didn’t try.  By the time we were set to go I think we were all exhausted and ready to head back to the boat, that is the sign of a good day if you ask me.

St Martin seemed to be the least commercialized for tourists, and I really enjoyed it all the more for that.  I think I mentioned once before that seeing what a place wants to show me isn’t really what I’m looking for when I visit.  I want to see who and what they really are.  Hopefully experience the day to day lives of the locals even just a tiny bit is more exciting to me than going to a full blown luxury resort.  I felt like I got a tiny glimpse in St Martin, and if I had to choose one island to spend more time on it would be this one.

Some of my fav pics that we took on St Marten.

   
   
   
   
 

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Adventures on St Martin/St Maarten

I mentioned last week that I was going to post some articles regarding the ports we will be visiting and what there is to see there.  With only 4 days left before we leave I figured I better get a move on.  I’ve decided to start with St Martin as it’s the island that has me most undecided as to what to do there.

Orient Bay

It seems the most efficient activity would be a tour through the government endorsed Jo Junie tours.  With a safety first attitude for this trip, being government endorsed is a huge plus.  I found out yesterday while trying to book a hotel for Fort Lauderdale that pre booking stuff in a place you know nothing about really takes a lot of trust.  The itinerary for Jo Junie tours is:

 

 

A sightseeing visit to Oyster Pond, a marina located between the Dutch and French sides with spectacular views.
A 2 hour visit to Orient Bay which has a clothing optional side, not that me and my 17 year old daughter will be visiting that side! (***careful prime bits exposed on link.  Although it’s a govmt site)
Hilltop at Orient bay for more prime views
A shopping excursion to Marigot, the French open market.
A stop at Sunset beach/Maho Bay where you can see the plane’s underbelly 2 inches from your nose.

Marigot, the French Capitol

The price for the tour is minimal, includes all you can drink refreshments, and it gets you back to Philipsburg with plenty of time to look around there as well.  On the plus side, it sounds like you get to see a little bit of all the highlights St Martin/St Maartin has to offer.  I like the idea of being able to see both sides of the Island, which we might not be able to do on our own and get back in time.  On the down side is, will I want to leave when we need to, or are there other things along the way that I would prefer to see instead?  Apparently I hate making these kinds of decisions.

Maho Bay/Sunset Beach

While looking around for other things we might want to do though, it seems our decision is made for us, as there really aren’t any other highlights.  From what I can tell the tour really is the best of St Martin/St Maarten.  Unless you want to while your day away on one beach, which isn’t really my thing, plus we’ll have three days to do that in Florida.  There are too many cool things to see in the Caribbean to lay around all day.

 

Loterie Farms

One thing that is missing from the tour that I might suggest to the owner is Loterie Farms.  All of our family are avid naturists, we love to hike, and commune with the outdoors.  I also love history.  Loterie Farms was formerly Loterie Plantation, established some time in the 18th century.  They offer hikes through a beautiful tropical forest, as well as zip lines, and an obstacle course.  They also have several exotic outdoor cafes and restaurants that look like once in a life time treats.

For St Louis

 

Another highlight of St Martin is Fort St. Louis.  If you’ve ever looking into the history of the Caribbean you will know that it is rife with pirates and countries battling for control of what was considered the ‘best’ islands.  Various countries always had easy trade in the forefront of their minds during battle considerations, thus it was imperative for those who currently controled those islands to properly defend them.  Most islands you will visit will have some sort of historical monument to those defenses and Fort St Lous is St Marin’s.  Thankfully this Fort is located at Marigot so we will be able to have a quick look if we can forgo a little shopping to do it.

 

 

 
 

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Cruise Day Countdown – Staying Motivated

It is just over a week since Chelsea and I started our exercise program. Both of us are doing so much better after such a short time that I can’t wait to see how we’re doing in a month. During that first class I thought I would never get through it. Never get through it, and maybe pass out along the way. Don’t tell our trainer this, but yesterday’s class was almost easy, in comparison anyhow. After just one week, I feel stronger, have more energy, and I’m once again excited about life.

I haven’t bothered to re-take our measurements yet, and I still don’t own a scale, I doubt there would be much change, but I do know I’m firming up, I feel it, and my clothes fit better already. Unfortunately the program that we’re doing right now is only two weeks long. We have a two week gym membership to try out to fill the last two weeks before vacation, so we can see which we like better. Having started now though, I think we will be joining back up when we get back from vacation, hopefully for an eight week program now that we know we can do it.

The exercise is going well, the diet not so much. That’s not to say I’m running out for McDonald’s every day or anything like that but I’m not having the easiest of times staying away from things that I know are not good for me. I do really well during the day sticking to fruits, veg, and healthy carbs, but come night time everything seems to go out the window. One of the biggest problems I see is time. With the program I’m not getting home until 7pm, or sometimes even later. By that point the last thing I want to do is spend an hour or more in the kitchen, and picking up the phone looks fantastic in comparison. This week I will be focusing on dinners, and finding quick, and healthy ways to stay on track. Do you have any recipes to pass on?

We picked up our return tickets this week and had the same problem as the first one’s we purchased. When I looked originally the tickets were $245. By the time I was ready to buy them, a week later, they had gone through the roof. We figured out that by staying in Florida for three extra days we would save hundreds of dollars, that includes the extra hotel, living, and off work expenses believe it or not! It’s something to think about if you are booking your vacation, tally up costs for hotel, food, and time off work, and compare it against flight costs to see if you might save money by staying a bit longer. More vacation, less money, who would have thought?

Marigot open market, St Maarten

Both of us are getting over the top excited by our new adventures coming up. I’m also a little nervous though. I know the nerves come from the fact that I’ve never done anything like this before, so I want to educate myself as much as possible. I’ve been reading like crazy but I would love to hear from you. Have you ever been on a cruise? What do we need to know? Any tips? We will be visiting Fort Lauderdale, Nassau, Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, VI, and Philipsburgh, St Martin/St Maarten. Have you been to any of these places? What are some of the ‘must see’ attractions?

 

Coral World, St Thomas, USVI

From what I have seen so far, here are some of the activities I would love to see/do. In St Thomas there is a beautiful underwater observatory. It is called ‘Coral World.’ It’s a building that goes right out into the ocean, and underwater so you can see what’s happening under there without getting wet. They offer many exhibits like a stingray pool, shark watching, and turtle pool amongst many other things. In St Maarten, we are hoping to take an Island tour. The tour is done by a local and showcases the highlights of the Island such as a tour of Oyster Pond, a beautiful marina in between the two sides of St Martin/St Maarten, a stop at one of the best beaches on the Island, a tour of the open market on the French side, shopping, and a stop at the local beach bar. I really like the idea of being able to see everything without the possibility of getting lost, however, I’m an independent person so I’m not sure how I’m going to like being told what to do, when I have to leave etc. We’ll see how it goes.

Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau

Lastly there is Nassau, this is the one I’m having the most trouble with. It seems that Nassau has been taken over by the huge money making ‘Atlantis.’ When you look at pics of the Island, that’s pretty much all you see. Even though I’ve never travelled, I know I’m not a typical ‘tourist.’ The idea of being a tourist with all the trappings just doesn’t appeal to me. I want to see the country for what it really is, I would love a glimpse of the locals, and their day to day lives, not a show that’s put on for the entertainment of visitors. As I looked for things to do on Nassau, it’s really not easy to find stuff that does not include Atlantis. While I was looking around, and before I did a bit of research, I attempted to book a dolphin ‘encounter.’ Turns out that Atlantis has a lock on any bookings such as this from the cruise ship, as I tried to book through another place and was told they could not accept our reservation and I would have to go to Atlantis, huh, made me want to spend time there even less. After reading more about swimming with dolphins, I don’t want to do it at all, but that is a discussion for another post. So, we’ve decided that since we will only be there for 5 hours we’re going to hit the beaches in Nassau, seems it’s the only thing we can do that doesn’t involve the gaudy resort. There is a beautiful beach on Nassau called the ‘Blue Lagoon’ I have no idea if this is the actual Blue Lagoon, but it’s where we’ll be.

Spices, Marigot open market, St Maarten.

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Health and Beauty

 

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