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Welcome to our pictorial trip report of our trip to St. Martin.
We arrived Dec. 31st on US Air flight 1903, were met by Mickey at Tropical Tropicana, who had the car waiting for us and off we went to Club Orient.
We had a terrific time and met some great new friends. The fireworks were spectacular with some that were so unique that we called them the "French Tickler specials" cascading golden sparkles that poured from the night sky!
Kevin & Suzie joined us for New Years Eve at Papagayos. They both were so tired that they had to hold each other up! At one point I got Suzie up to dance just to keep her awake long enough to get to midnight. The fireworks perked them up a little bit though, as did the dancing, entertainment and great food!
We often were the first people awake and on the beach and because of that we always make friends with the various cats and dogs who live near the resort. This one adopted us and slept under our chairs and came over to see us to our door every day.
The Club Orient Staff conspired with me to surprise Regina with a bouquet of beautiful tropical flowers in our unit when we arrived. This was too much fun! the man was delivering the flowers in through the sliding door from the patio while Regina was occupied in the kitchen. She never saw a thing!
We went for our first meal at Bay Watch with our friends Butch & Kelly. Here we are with Cheryl.
What can we say about Cheryl and Andy? They are just wonderful friends and great people. They are the first people we contact when we arrive on the island and the last ones we say good bye to when we leave. Ross, Adrian, Randy and the rest of the staff always make us feel so much at home. They are so much a part of our SXM family!
The grounds of Club Orient one early morning. We just love the grounds of Club Orient. There are flowers everywhere. Owners of the various chalets have added rock gardens, special flower beds, displays that tell a little bit about them. This was the year we met Inez out in the garden behind her studio. She taught us some new yoga routines out there in the sun, under the swaying branches of the palm trees. It is like a little bit of the garden of Eden, paradise found not paradise lost!
We walked the beach just about every day.
We had a great party on January 2nd at Papagayo's. Co-organized by Karen & Jim (Proart) and Regina & I, (DavidB). The staff at Papagayos treated us to some extra-special service and treats. Complimentary platters of food, a whole area of the restaurant set aside for us all. Thank you Manu and Eddie Loomans, you are great hosts! We had so many people there I lost count! Over 30 and all of our plans to provide name tags sort of went by the wayside when a few nakos among us said that they did not have a place to attach it. I distributed complimentary TTOL tattoos and we took a picture by the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Thank you to the people who volunteered to take the front row! Sorry the picture was so dark I had to enhance it in Photoshop to even get this, but the group was too big for my little camera
We took a field trip and visited with Gerard and Francine, the delightful couple who own and operate Le Galion. They mostly speak French so brush up before you go and bring a phrase book! We brought with us friends from the TTOL gathering at Papagayos the evening before so that we could introduce them to LeGalion and the couple who run it.
Le Galion or perhaps it is now called Caribbean Nature, is a "naturist friendly" villa located near Captain Oliver's. Recently opened by Gerard and Francine who have done a tremendous amount of work to restore this beautiful home. It has four beautiful bungalows and a main house all surrounding a beautiful private pool. It is possible to walk directly from the patio of your bungalow, take a dip all in the total privacy of this beautiful place. The studio has the only views of the ocean, but a short walk will take you to a spectacular view of the ocean and St. Barths. One of the best things about the place is the price. About 1/3 of the cost of staying at Club Orient and only a 10 minutes drive from Orient Beach. Check them out! Tell them that David & Regina Sent you! http://membres.lycos.fr/naturissimo
|From Left to right: Peter & Elly, David, Francine, Regina, Karen & Jim, Suz with Kevin hiding in the back, Philly with Bill hiding in the back.|
Here is a gallery of photos from our visit to Le Galion.
We had to introduce our TTOL friends to one of our favorite restaurants in Grand Case, La California. Teri always makes us feel special, here he is serving some fine French red wine. Later on in the evening he gave us a taste of his newest concoction, a homemade chocolate liqueur. After the second round we could have stayed all night.
Look at the dessert... Yum! Regina is more experimental and tries a new one each time we visit. The Crepes flambe are tres delicious! I order the Creme Brule and Teri's is one of the best on the island.
We move to Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay Kitchen
If you can not see the kitchen that's because it was so small you could miss it. This was the smallest timeshare studio we have ever stayed in.
This was the view from the balcony of our unit at Oyster Bay. It was right on the marina, looking directly at Captain Olivers. At night we could hear the murmur of the waves and the tinkling of the glasses and music. I love sailing, so watching the yachts sail right under my window was a treat.
Every evening this egret came under our balcony at Oyster Bay and searched for fish along the shore. His grace and beauty were a reminder of the wonder of God's creation.
This picture is for Kelly. Nessie went where ever we did and here he is posing in front of Peg Leg Pub. We went here and had some great coconut shrimp. The French Onion soup is still the best on the island. met the new owners too. Highlight of this meal was meeting Rusty (son of Butch & Kelly) and his brand new fiancee Amy. Rusty proposed the night before and certainly picked a romantic place to do it. Congratulations guys! Are you sure you don't want to fly me down to St. Martin to do the wedding?
I did my Padi Open Water Certification dives through the ScubaFun Dive shop located in Anse Marcel. Kneeling is my competent and beautiful instructor Celene, in the back are Ben and Elaine, from Quebec. The two other men were Jaques and Jean, both from France. The dives were great and I am totally hooked on diving in the Caribbean.
We dove at Creole Rock for two afternoons. This is a very popular diving and snorkeling site and can become very crowded. We saw some extraordinary fish, practiced various scuba skills and got ready for our deeper dives on some reefs and wrecks in Great Bay.
Celene perched like this checking the bottom of the ocean and then instructing the boat driver which mooring ball to pull up to. She was trying to determine which area around Creole Rock had better visibility.
Ben and Elaine are from Quebec and were staying at the Mt. Vernon. They were very anxious to get in as much diving as they could and dove almost every day. For those of you who don't think that there is good diving around SXM, think again... They raved about a beautiful reef and wreck off Tintemarre as well as diving on the Frigate.
We went on dives 3 different days and the last day we did both a morning dive and then an afternoon dive on Cable Reef. Each day Celine was testing our abilities and skills underwater. Some times we did various exercises like emergency ascents, out of air drills and sharing air among many others. Creole Rock was quite crowded both times we were there and the silt action from all the dives made for very cloudy water.
The last day we dove out in Great Bay and what a difference. We were in water at depths of 20 to 30 meters and the reef extended from for out in the bay to well into it. It was like diving on a time machine. The reef was literally covered with wrecks and the cables of the various ship wrecks were laced between various formations of coral. Furthest out on the reef were ships from the early 1812 to 1820. Canon, fluke anchors and a few timbers were all you could see. Then further along on the reef was a steam paddle boat that was from the 1860's. Then there were some iron ships from the 1910 through 1920. There were a couple wrecks you cold swim through, although the hulls were collapsing so I was glad we had a great dive master who knew where one could go safely. Even then one of the divers from France got wedged in one of them and had to be gently eased through. Finally we came upon a wreck that came down in a hurricane in the 1980's and that was surreal. I had run out of film on my little point and shoot underwater camera by the time we had gotten to there and no way to reload when you are 90 feet down. I saw so many things that my little underwater camera was unable to capture because I did not have a good light attachment. The beauty of the sea is amazing.
Some of the other photos included here are from snorkeling on Orient Beach. During the whole time of my stay I snorkeled many times on the reef near the rocks in front of Pedros on Orient Beach. Now that I have seen a live reef I can say that this reef is very much destroyed by careless boaters and other people who snorkel there and step on the fragile coral and break it off. Even so there are many fish and other marine life to see. This star fish was nestled into the reef on Orient Beach, it makes for a great photograph. Saw some mermaids too! They were more beautiful than the ones I have seen in the story books and somewhat shy too.
All in all you can say I got hooked that year on underwater excursions in the warm Caribbean Sea.
We organized a TTOL group trip to the unique restaurant Le Reparte de Pirate in Grand Case. The Salade Alizee was to die for! Marcel kept us well entertained and invited each of us to personally tour his bathroom...
We love going and spending time with Marcel. The meals are great. We always enjoy the company and then we end of the evening with his coffee pot full of home made rum cordial (appropriately named Le Mort and marked with the Skull and Crossbones). This year we had several folks from TTOL join us and Rusty and Amy, Butch and Kelly's son and new daughter-in-law to be dared to try out a night with our crazy group.
The Pirate can be found on a cross street that comes into the main street in Grand Case near the square with the lolos. Walk away from the harbor on that street, go past the Gendarmerie and then look to your left. You should now see it on your left.
Go up to the door and know, when Marcel opens the porthole you have to request permission to come aboard. Then be prepared for anything to happen because it just might!
I took some pictures during the day time one trip into Grand Case just so you could see the outside of the place more clearly. Nessie even made it here for our evening but I think his picture outside was too dark.
On the drive over from Oyster Bay to Orient, we passed this view almost every morning. In the far distance you can see St. Barths.
St. Barth's emerges in the dawn
We chartered the Catamaran Chamicha, out of Marigot Harbor, for a full day for 10 of us. Paul & Carol, Butch & Kelly, Jim & Karen, Kevin & Suz and David & Regina.
Captain Patrick at the helm of Chamicha
Patrick and his mate were gracious hosts. I don't think they were quite prepared for our group of crazy friends. I would recommend them to anybody wanting to have a different kind of day sail around SXM. He has sailed through a few hurricanes in his days and seems to know the waters well. Food was not as elegant as the Tiko, but we sailed for many more hours and he was willing to do just about anything we asked. Brush up on your French though!
Happy Baie from the Chamicha
Yacht we passed.
Anse Marcel headlands
We sailed around the island from Marigot, past Happy Baie, Grand Case, Anse Marcel and then to Tintemarre.
Petite Cay Beach
Supposedly one of the best snorkeling sites on the whole island. Remote and hard to get to if you do not have a boat. Directions I've been given but not tested are: Go to French Cul de Sac by the parking lot for the ferry to Pinel. There is a road off to the left that goes over to the dump. Follow that road and drive to the dump parking lot. Go over to the left and there is a path over the ridge that will lead you to Petite Cay Beach. Beware of sharp objects in the road, you can get a flat tire. The reward after a 20 minute hike is a remote beach with great rocks, reefs and reportedly the best snorkeling on the island. I have heard that some locals hang out there for some surfing and one of them said that if they were looking for a private place with their lover, this would be the place they would go. Obviously no services, so bring your own water and food. Do be careful, many people have reported flat tires and one or two have reported that their cars were broken into back at the dump parking lot.
Sunsail Charter Boat
Regina & I saw this boat depart from right beneath our unit a day before. Here they are making sail towards St. Barths.
another view of the yacht sailing towards St. Bart's
Land Ho - Tintemarre
Several Tintemarre natives from the Tiko Tiko watch us sail into the bay on the Chamicha. They could not believe that there was another nako cruise coming ashore!
Chamicha at anchor off Tintemarre
Patrick and his mate dropped anchor and we all swam ashore. Gear followed. We had a great day. When we could not remember the French word for bucket it was a little hard telling him we wanted to steal his salad bowl for making up some mud. Eventually Butch got through to him somehow and the rest is history! You will have to ask Carol about her experience with the mud!
Drink ferry at Tintemarre
Or is that the Drink Fairy? Either way, Jim made a few trips back to the boat for us with his float.
The Golden Eagle Textile Invasion
Of course the Golden Eagle arrived with a boat load of people from a cruise ship. They snorkeled for a while and then departed.
Tiko Tiko contingent
The folks from the Tiko Tiko set-up just down the beach from us and we shared the trek over to the mud pit. Later we all watched a Dutch military helicopter and assault troops practice an attack on the interior of the island.
Tiko Tiko at anchor
I walked out to the abandoned airfield and started taking some shots of the ruined airplanes when the Assault helicopter dropped off more troops just out of sight to the right. I decided that I did not want to be the target for their practice and made my way back to the beach.
Assault Troops making a landing.
Here is one of the soldiers being lowered by the helicopter. When he hit the ground you could hear sporadic gun fire. That is when I decided to move far, far away!
We all swam back to Chamicha for a barbeque lunch. The sausage were unique and tasty We were all hungry and made short work of the lunch. .
Captain Patrick takes a dip
Here is our captain relaxing in the waters off Tintemarre. When he climbed up the ladder he looked at me with a great big grin and said, "I still sometimes wonder why I am so lucky to get paid to do this."
We all took a last dip before departing for our sail back to Marigot. This part of the day was very special. Patrick cut the engines and we sailed under wind power for a couple of hours. We stopped by Creole Rock for some snorkeling, water was cloudy and it was too crowded
Happy Baie from the Chamicha
Patrick also anchored off Happy Baie and a few of us were hardy enough to make the swim in. Surf was a bit rough and it was a strenuous effort. Once we got there, Jim and Karen said that this was exactly the kind of place they had hoped to find. I expect to see some beautiful paintings of Happy Baie some time in the future by Karen.
My Dream Boat
This beauty came in and anchored right under our window at Oyster Bay. I was ready to swim over, and take it for a spin!
While Kevin & Suz moved to the Towers and Jim and Karen moved back to Club Orient from the Cottages, Regina & I took the whole day and shopped in Marigot and Phillipsburg. We got some great buys at this market on Garnet jewelry as well as some beautiful pareos. Don't buy your SXM bags here, they are much cheaper in Phillipsburg.
Marigot Market 2
Marigot Market 3
Marigot Market 4
Marigot Market 5
I tried to get some better photos of the produce markets. The vendors there did not want their pictures taken. We did find some yummy avacatos.
Marigot Market 6
Dawn Beach with St. Barths
St. Barth's close up from Dawn Beach
Dawn Beach 3
Regina @ Oyster Bay
St. Barth's is peaking out behind her. That dress we bought at Paradise View. above Orient Bay on the main road. They had some great bargains. As you can tell it was a windy afternoon.
David & Regina @ Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay Resort Pool and patio
I wish we could say that we loved our stay at Oyster Bay. We have never been treated so rudely by any resort staff before. The unit was so small we literally tripped over each other and it was impossible to cook in what they called our kitchen. The refridge was so small my wife called it the "electric cooler".. Bathroom was so small that if somebody stood at the sink the person in shower could not open the door to get out. What we can say is that we loved the location. We did not miss the 40 minute drive during traffic to get to Orient Beach that we were used to when we stayed in Simpson Bay. We also found a great bakery and breakfast place in Oyster Pond by the speed bump near Captain Olivers and another bakery on the road leading from Orleans to Oyster Pond. The French wines we purchased accross the street from that bakery was especially good, even though it was only $4.00 / bottle. All in all, I might stay there again, but boy do they need an upgrade on their attitude and service
Oyster Bay Resort Pool at sunset
You can not see it, but around the corner from this picture is a hot-tub that overlooks the ocean. The heat was not turned on until our very last night there, but we did have a couple late night dips with our friends Philly & Bill and Butch & Kelly.
Ocean view off Oyster Bay
Three very tanned and happy campers
Kelly, Philly and Regina. Kelly was celebrating, they had dropped off Rusty and Amy at the airport earlier and now they were feeling more free to party with the gang!
La California second night
Had to go back for more delicious pizza and Creme Brulee. Butch and Kelly agree that the Creme Brulee is to die for!
Orient View 2
Orient View 3
Oyster Pond looking toward the hill where leGalion is located
Captain Olivers from our room
SunSail and Moorings Facilties
Oyster Pond Harbor and Marina are a major bare-boat chartering center for both SunSail and The Mooriings, the two largest bareboat chartering companies in the Caribbean. There were easily 60 38 to 60 foot yachts at anchor here available for charter. Some day! Sigh!
Oyster Pond Harbor
Regina on our Balcony at Oyster Bay
We did have a fairly private balcony with our unit. That was nice. The downside was that it was so small that it had a round table, two upright chairs and no space for anything else. I loved sunning on the balcony at the Pelican and watching the sunset in the lounge chairs our first trip. I even slept outside on one of the lounge chairs there. At Oyster Bay that was not possible! <darn>
David on the balcony of Oyster Bay
We spent some relaxing times out on this balcony. It helped that we were high enough up that we had a decent amount of privacy. Too bad it was so small that you couldn't make use of that more fully.
last picture of Oyster Pond marina
We ate our last good meal with the TTOL gang at Turtle Pier. Great food, interesting conversation with Philly leading us all in a spirited discussion. Ask her someday! It was deserted though. Our group of 8 doubled the amount of customers they had all evening. Drinks and dancing after at Sopranos
Kevin & Suz @Turtle Pier
Butch & Kelly
Philly & Bill
David & Regina
One last drink at Mr. Busbys
We met Kelly & Butch for one last drink at Mr. Busbys
Regina at Mr. Busbys
Farewell dinner at Captain Olivers
Regina & I went over to Captain Olivers for a private dinner our last night. We danced to some great music and then went home to pack!
After dinner we walked the slips and looked at boats and yachts. This one is for sale!
Regina snapped this one of Great Bay and the cruise ship at the dock.