Cruising around the Caribbean is a luxurious way to soak up the sunshine, see endless beaches, and have a relaxed few weeks in paradise. But sometimes travelling can be too much for retirees who just want a little bit of relaxation and recuperation. If you find yourself in this scenario, consider one of the St Martin vacations rather than a cruise. Here are a few tips on how to make your vacation to St Martin as stress-free as possible.
Shop Around for the Best Package:
We no longer need to go to the travel agency to book our vacation. Everything is available with a few clicks on the computer. Hundreds of companies and tour groups offer vacation packages to the Caribbean and St Martin, which means choosing the right one can be challenging. My advice is to shop around and search different websites and companies before making any decisions. When you know the dates, give yourself a good few months and write down the best deals. Choosing the first one that looks great may not be as great as you think.
Choose the Best Time of the Year:
Certain times of the year are busier than others, such as during the northern hemisphere’s winter and Christmas. Other times are at risk of tropical storms and hurricanes. Plan the best time of the year to go and do your own research into what the conditions are like at that time of the year. If you hate the crowds, avoid peak season.
French St Martin or Dutch Sint Maarten?
The next decision is whether you want to spend most of your time on the Dutch or French side of the island. Dutch St Maarten gets more visitors and is very convenient for tourists with duty-free shopping and lots of entertainment. Philipsburg is a popular destination and a few minutes from Princess Juliana International Airport. French St Martin has more of a laid-back European element to it and is famous around the Caribbean for its gourmet food, especially at Grand Case.
What Do You Want to Do on the Island of St Martin?
The most popular activities on the island are relaxing on the beaches. In total, St Martin has 37 beaches and many nearby islands offer more sandy places to enjoy paradise. Philipsburg is the best spot for evening entertainment and the typical touristy treats. You can also have a day of relaxation in the pools and lounges at Loterie Farm. Or why not get your hiking shoes on and trek up to Pic Paradis, the highest point of the island?
If you’re looking for history and culture, Fort Amsterdam in St Maarten and Fort Louis in St Martin are great attractions to visit. Both are now in ruins and have a few remaining cannons. There are also a number of museums with exhibits on local history and culture.
Credit Cards and Payments:
Here are a few things to be aware of on the Island of St Martin to avoid causing any unnecessary stress. The first is with credit cards. Usually, ATM machines and the restaurant’s card machines work, but sometimes they fail. Bringing a little extra cash is a good way to prepare for this not-so-uncommon scenario.
You should also be aware that some restaurants include a 15% service charge onto your bill. After enjoying a lovely meal in beautiful surroundings, sometimes it can be easy to just pay the bill without calculating everything up. This is fine, but do you really want to pay a 15% service charge and then leave a further 10-15% cash tip?
The Island of St Martin, especially St Maarten, has a reputation for being a very friendly and hospitable place for naturists. Topless sunbathers frequent many of the beaches and a few bottomless folks wander around too. The main nudist spots are at Happy Bay Beach and Club Orient. Some tourists are uncomfortable, which in turn causes a lot of stress.
Retirees typically don’t want to see naked people wandering around or take their clothes off themselves. Or perhaps you do want to join in the fun. Just be aware that this sort of thing does happen and if it makes you uncomfortable, simply find a spot where bathers keep their clothes on.
Take Advantage of Tours:
There are a number of islands near St Martin, which is perfect for a day trip. You can visit Prickly Pear, Creole Rock, and St Barth. All offer wonderful beaches and even better opportunities for snorkelling. The British Overseas Territory of Anguilla is less than 30 minutes away via ferry from Marigot. Take full advantage of the different tours and packages when you arrive.
If you’re not into snorkelling yourself, check out the Seaworld Explorer. This is both a boat and submarine with a glass bottom floor and takes passengers out into the sea. You’re sitting inside enjoying the air conditioning whilst watching the marine life below. Later in the trip, a diver feeds the fish causing hundreds to swarm around the boat. This is a great way to experience the diversity of fish in St Martin without having to get wet.
Having the Perfect, Stress-Free Trip to St Martin:
The Island of St Martin makes a great alternative in the Caribbean to a cruise. Plan your trip carefully and enjoy both the French and Dutch sides. Be aware of the naturist-friendly beaches and enjoy the marine life with a snorkel or on a glass bottom boat. St Martin won’t disappoint.