What the People of St. Martin Taught Me?

September 14, 2018



Flashback to a few weeks ago in St. Martin...


It was a getaway and a much needed break from the day to day. 


As I get older, I’ve learned that I need these sort of breaks for my sanity. Not to mention, I’m simply keen on exploration. I enjoy going to different places, seeing different things and experiencing different cultures.


I've been to a few islands yet, I didn’t really have any expectations with this trip. My line of thought was an island is an island is an island and I was looking for some R & R.  So I checked out a few hotels on the web, read a few reviews and boom click. The trip was booked. I packed my bags with my usual vacation staples and headed to the airport.


This experience was very humbling for two reasons A) don’t believe everything you see on social media B) it truly made me appreciate all the things that I have. 


St.Martin, similar to Puerto Rico, is still on the come up from the hurricane that hit back in September of 2017.  Honestly, even though I said I didn’t have expectations, I guess deep down I did. When I said R & R, I pictured myself chilling at the beach in a lounge chair under the umbrella with Rum punches and Mai Tai’s at the ready, staring out at the ocean.  Welp…. The lie detector determined that that was a lie... 


I was faced with a two choices--show my bougie side and pout and bitch about the money I spent OR figure out a way to enjoy myself because, well I am on vacation.


Not to mention, I typically abide by a certain rule when I’m on vacation: no stress, less structure, go with the flow & relax.  For as long as I can remember I lived by this rule...so I quickly did a bit of self reflection, got myself in check and made the decision to soak it all in and enjoy myself. I’m so very glad I did.


Things you need to know when traveling to St. Martin

  • At the moment they are still recovering from the hurricane.  While the media coverage has waned, know that the devastation is REAL. 

  • People have a fighting spirit and honestly can use the tourism dollars--there are a lot of locally owned businesses that can surely benefit and they are truly appreciative.

  • YOU WILL NEED TO RENT A CAR to get around the island without it is pointless. No really it is!

  • The island is hilly AF!!!! I thought I saw hills--San Francisco ain't got shit on the hills of St.Martin...not being dramatic here.

  • Driving isn’t for the faint of heart. Roads are one in and one out; they are steep and windy. Some have barriers to prevent you from going off a cliff and other parts….well if you’re not careful you’re done…. I’m a girl from the Bronx and even me with my tough exterior questioned my ability to navigate---- BUT I made it do what it do and look I’m here to tell you about it. Oh and there were no casualties as a result of my navigation.

  • You can not only enjoy the island of St.Martin--but you can also island hop and take  ferry or plane to St. Barth, Anguilla or Soba.


So Here's The Rundown


Princess Juliana airport was damaged pretty badly but they managed to make it habitable.  It has air condition, food, car rentals and taxi’s to take you to your hotel. My hotel was 30 min away. At the time, I didn’t realize that I should’ve rented a car so I grabbed a taxi.  It was on the drive to the hotel that I truly realized the devastation. Entire resorts were COMPLETELY wiped out! Buildings were gone. 



Given the devastation there were certain beaches that just weren’t accessible.  Thankfully Maho Beach wasn’t one of them. That’s what attracted me to choose this island.  I had perused the web and saw so many cool pics of people watching and “touching” the airplanes as they land.  I had expectations of seeing this grand beach at least 5 miles….well, that’s ummmm NOT the case! It’s a really small area with not alot of sand. Definitely a tourist attraction though and I was able to get my ever so trendy pic of me “touching” an incoming plane. 



Most of the hotels surrounding the area are under construction, but I can tell that when they build it back up, it will be poppin again.  There is a cool place called macho taco that served good drinks and good food.


Anquilla / St. Martin trip


The ferry to Anquilla is on the French side.  It's a 20 min ride. It might be a little bumpy, so if you're prone to sea sickness get ready, but it's only a 20 minute ride. Parking is easy on a Sunday in a quaint shopping area. At 11am, shopping is local goods, go support them!

Don't forget your passport! You’ll need to show it to board the boat!


You can get a taxi right off the boat to Shoal beach. The island is 16 miles long, 32 beaches, goats roam the streets. Population was 14k, pre hurricane. As I took the taxi to the beach, I listened as the driver told me how people abandoned the island when they heard that the hurricane was coming.  As for those that didn’t have a means of leaving? Well they banded together and stayed in houses that appeared to be strong.


In Anquilla they drive on the left side of the road, so be prepared for that should you decide to rent a vehicle. Shoal Beach was beautiful and tranquil.  The locals are accommodating. You pay $20USD for the chair & umbrella set up and you are good to go.


All in all while both islands experienced devastation beyond what one can imagine, they are rebuilding and it looks and feels like they will be back and better than ever.  The people are resilient and I had a lovely time!


What places did you visit this summer? Share your experiences with me at shak@shakempowers.com

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