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Old 05-31-2015, 07:19 AM
 
Location: Port Charlotte
3,927 posts, read 4,782,220 times
Reputation: 3409

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We just spent a week there so thought I would post some thoughts.

On renting a car. We used Amex and our card covers $50K in damage waivers...and you may well need it. A lady was arguing with the rental car office over damages she incurred when we checked in our car. Remember that you are in a foreign country and at their mercy, or lack thereof. There are three lanes of traffic, you drive on the right like in the US, oncoming cars on the left approaching you, and motorcycles take their half out of the middle. They coming flying down the middle of the road in either direction, expecting you to get out of the way. Only 1 stop light on the entire island, learn to love roundabouts. A dip in a hood as they hit the brakes is a indication to turn in front, go, etc. if you can drive here, you can drive anywhere.

Road Signs: fuggetaboutit. They don't exist. A Garmin helps. The Map you get can help on the major roads, but good luck. Best directions are the roadside signs showing stores, Marigot, Phillipsburg, etc. they are your best form of direction.

Food: we now live in Florida, originally moved from DFW, great food in both places. Honestly, ate at Toppers, SkipJacks, Pineapple Pete's, Lees, etc, all supposed to be good. I give it a 2 stars out of 4. Just not all that. Best food we got was on Shoal Bay at a small beach joint and at the Hide Away Restaurant at La Vista Resort. Now I will say that the fish at Lees is very fresh as the owner goes out fishing for his restaurant each day. We were there when he came back in with his catch. There are large tarpon that hang out at Lees, as he dumps his excess live bait and chum off the dock at the edge of the restaurant. They will even hit the occasional French fry.

Crime: just be careful. We got the paper each day, and random crime against tourists happens, primarily minor breaking into cars, etc. but there were also opportunistic robberies. Just stay in tourist areas after dark, keep stuff in trunk and out of sight.

Night life: the Red Piano off Billy Foley Road has great bands on Monday, good entertainment. The Maho area (by the Sonesta by the airport) has great restaurants, night life, primarily Thursday through Saturday. Sunday, the island shuts down. Go out to the Sunset Bar at the end of the airport, park in the Allegra parking area, and watch the idiots get blown around by the airplanes taking off, the planes landing, and the sunset. From 3, there is a beach party there.

Phillipsburg: the Boardwalk along the beach is a great place to shop and spend the day on the beach. Parking is either on the other side of downtown along the Salt Lake, or at Billy's Marina. Inexpensive to park there, secured parking, and you are at the Greenhouse, a good place to eat. You buy a couple of drinks at the bars along the beach, you get two beach chairs for the day. The shops along Front Street are where all the jewelry stores, 'authentic' designer bags, etc are located. Don't be afraid to bargain, even for jet ski rentals.

Handicapped access: not really. A lot of streets have minimal or no sidewalks. Handicapped ramps into stores are often non-existent. Just plan on having to walk in many areas. Just a fact of life. For that matter, most multi-story condos don't have elevators either.

Beaches: the Boardwalk area has a nice protected beach area, beautiful sands, calm seas. Maho beach area is popular with locals, as is Galion Beach on the French side. Orient Bay has several beaches. Best open access is Palm Bay. You can walk up the beach to other sub-beaches. On the far end is Club Orient, the nude beach. Other beaches along Orient Bay are not nude beaches, but you might find the occasional topless individual. No big issues. Most beautiful beach we found was Shoal Bay on Anguilla.

Traveling to St. Bart's. from many sources, don't take the tour. Over priced, and not unusual for shops to shut down after lunch for siesta. Take the ferry across early in the morning, return late in the afternoon.

Traveling between islands. You need your passport and drivers license and a return ticket. You are traveling between countries. But no big issues.

Biggest pain in the rear- getting back into the US. We had to go through several different check points, each time getting the passport checked. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale, and returning on a Saturday with all the returning international flights, their international terminal is just not scaled to handle the traffic. The luggage area was way overcrowded and the line to get through the final check point, handled by only 3 customs officers, was an hour and a half long. This is something that they need to address.

Hope this helps someone in the future.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:40 AM
 
Location: On the bus.
335 posts, read 248,215 times
Reputation: 1992
Very informative post!!! St. Maartin has always been a favorite destination of mine. Been there 5 times or so. Have not been back for severals years so the burning question is...Are the French just as arrogant now? To me, they were just obnoxious to American's no matter how polite you were.
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,208 posts, read 3,200,569 times
Reputation: 2041
Thank you for sharing!!

I am going to St. Martin this week and will likely also check out Anguilla.

Disappointed to hear about the food...I vacation to eat

But it sounds like you may have had a good time 'overall', so that's good

Edited to add: How was the weather? Is it extremely humid? Did it rain at all/a lot? Also, random question: Can you drink the tap water in both St. Martin and Anguilla?
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Port Charlotte
3,927 posts, read 4,782,220 times
Reputation: 3409
Weather-dry right now, occasional showers. Been in a 3 year dry spell. As to water, water is good. No problems. Lows in the 70's, highs in the 80's to low 90's.

As to the French, didn't spend much time in the true French Quarter. For French food, I would recommend LE Petit Paris in the Maho district of the Dutch side.
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