Lest I forget to highlight our getaway to St. Martin/St. Maarten, I wanted to take a moment to share some photos and thoughts from our day trip. Before I had visited the Caribbean (pre-2011), I generally lumped all Caribbean islands together. I couldn’t tell you the difference between Aruba, the Bahamas or Bermuda, or point out St. Kitts on a map. While I still have a lot to learn about the islands, I do have a much better grasp on Caribbean geography and have a better idea as to which islands are on my must-see list.
I visited St. Maarten for the first time in 2011 during my first trip to Anguilla. The vibe was palpably different from that of Anguilla. The beaches were more crowded and the tourist demographics shifted significantly. Our trip on Friday confirmed my recollection. A few cruise ships were in, with loads of eager tourists jumping off to shop in Philipsburg. Granted, there are aspects of St. Martin that I do appreciate — being able to pick up some little luxuries (perfume, make-up, etc.), finding home goods and decor galore, and shopping at grocery stores that are replete with food from home (e.g. Popchips, protein bars, etc.).
After our trip to the mega grocery store early on in the day, I briefly told Scott that living in St. Martin would have been easier — such an abundance of familiar items, street fairs, and an easy hub for travel. As the day wore on though, the congestion (on all fronts – cars, foot traffic, palapas, etc.) made an impression. Heading there for practical reasons was fine, but if I were visiting the Caribbean for the first time expecting an island experience, I’m not sure that crowded beaches and hokey tchotchkes would fit the bill. (From what I understand, there are parts of St. Martin that do provide a bit more of the quiet, island experience versus the likes of Philipsburg).
To be sure, I’m happy we have St. Martin as a neighbor. We’re a short ferry ride from Princess Juliana Airport and from shopping. Still, setting foot on Anguilla again was like a breath of fresh air: quieter; more peaceful.
Reality check: buying Popchips in bulk doesn’t outweigh the beauty of Anguilla or the congeniality of its people. I’ll take quiet beaches and understocked grocery stores any day.
xoxo from Anguilla,