St Martin Is Back

Stronger Than The Storm

When Hurricane Irma hit St. Martin in September 2017, it was the first category 5 hurricane on record to reach the Leeward Islands. Spanning over 650 miles, the storm badly affected much of the Caribbean. However, the inspiring resilience shown by the residents of St.Martin has proven them stronger than the storm.

Incredibly, just six months after Irma reached land, there are already signs that St. Martin and St. Barts are on a steady road to recovery.

Read on to find out how separate areas in St. Martin are making a comeback, and about our newly relocated charter base in the brightly coloured French-side capital, Marigot.


SXM airport and Marina Fort Louis 

Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) resumed its regular services just a couple of weeks after the hurricane passed through, with flights to St Kitts, Saba, St Eustatius and St. Barts with other commercial flights quickly following.

This was a major step towards a quick recovery for the tourism industry and bringing the buzz back to the beaches. Even though the airport building sustained damage, officials are optimistic and say it should return to normal service within the next couple of months.

By creating temporary solutions to manage the influx of travellers, customs and baggage reclaims are operating swiftly and efficiently so visitors can get to their destinations as quickly as possible.

The taxi drivers will gladly take you to the Carrefour supermarket, which is open and stocked to provide essential toiletries and fresh fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices.  

At Marina Fort Louis, businesses are reopening, with the Marina Royale, Arawak restaurant, pharmacies and jewellery stores coming back to life.

The newly relocated Sunsail base in Marigot is also ready to welcome travellers. With office Wi-Fi newly installed and showers from $2.00, you can comfortably settle in and start planning your sailing itinerary.

Grande Case and Anse Marcel

Nearby Grand Case was hit particularly hard, but has been making a strong recovery in recent months with the reopening of the popular Grand Case Beach Club in October and some of its well-loved restaurants such as Spiga, Rainbow Café, Bistrot Caraibes and Piazza Pasca.

Sadly, many of the hotel infrastructures still look a little weather-beaten, with some missing roofs and tiles. The dinghy dock also suffered damage, so take care. The tourists’ favourite hot-spot for dancing and clubbing, Calmos Café is also yet to re-open.

Anse Marcel, just 20 minutes east of Grand Case, was another area that was badly affected. As of February 2018, there are still no restaurants and bars open by the beach resort. Even with running water and fuel restored in the area, Anse Marcel will take more time to return to its former glory.


Tintamarre

Two miles offshore, the tiny island of Tintamarre surprisingly shows practically no signs of hurricane damage. With pristine turquoise waters and beautiful white sands, the area looks largely untouched.

Usually buzzing with yachts, in February, Tintamarre was tranquil and practically deserted, making it an oasis for sailors in search of peace and quiet. Due to the steepness of the beach, we don’t recommend taking a dinghy ashore, but you can easily swim there once secured to a mooring ball.

In Orient Bay, back on St. Martin, almost all of the bars and restaurants remain closed, with no signs of the Orient Club reopening in the near future. However, the beach looks as beautiful as ever, and thrill-seekers can make the most of the jet-ski rental shop just off the beach.

In contrast, nearby Pinel Island is showing great signs of recovery. Even though two of the restaurants here were completely destroyed in the hurricane, the Yellow Beach Bar is now up and running. They’re also looking to rebuild their famous Tiki huts, so that travellers can kick back and admire the views.

The bar is anticipating to reopen fully by April. The Karibuni restaurant has already opened its doors and is offering tropical drinks and food. This picturesque beachfront lunch spot is perfect for people watching as it overlooks a stunning beach. It is very encouraging to see families on holiday, already back playing on the beach and snorkelling in the shallows.


St. Barts

After making significant headway on repairing villas and reopening restaurants, St. Barts is ready to welcome travellers back. With beaches having been swept and cleaned from October onwards, you could barely see any remains of the hurricane in the main town of Gustavia.

Known for its entertainment, nightlife and high-end restaurants, St. Barts saw the Le Ti to Isola, La Plage, Hideaway and La Guerite and Bar L’Oubli re-open in in December. If you loved St. Barts before, there’s absolutely no reason not to come back and stop in for what the locals call “les petits creux” (the munchies), or tuck into some of the international delicacies that Shellona and Orega have to offer. 

In the northern part of St. Barts, Anse de Colombier looks virtually untouched by the storm. Aside from a couple of damaged palm trees at the top of the hill, travellers can still enjoy the calm waters, sail along the natural gulf and find a pleasant spot to moor. From hiking to scuba-diving and swimming with turtles, Anse de Colombier is very much business as usual.

Phillipsburg

The capital of Dutch St. Martin, Phillipsburg suffered some damage to its high built areas. However, all of the main shops on the lower levels are welcoming customers into their stores. Everything continues as normal as possible in Great Bay, allowing travellers access to shopping, restaurants and beach bars.

In Simpson Bay, 30 minutes away, the beaches have been cleaned and the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina is open for business. Sailors can also take a short dinghy ride under the bridge into the marina if they are looking for more restaurant options.

Maho Beach, right next to the airport, is accessible only by taxi, a 15-minute drive from Simpson Bay. It’s famously known for watching planes coming in to land directly overhead while you’re on the beach. The bars are repaired and it won’t be long before this little strip is once again party central. 

The protected wetland of Mullet Pond has been cleaned by authorities so that visitors can once again enjoy the beautiful lagoon with pristine white sand beaches dotted with umbrellas that’s an ideal spot to go swimming in and relax.

While some areas in St. Martin and St. Barts are still continuing with their redevelopment, it’s amazing to see other locations bounce back so quickly after the effects of hurricane Irma. The sheer resilience and community spirit among locals are encouraging couples and families alike to return and enjoy everything St. Martin has to offer. It’s safe to say, the Caribbean is back in business, just see for yourself.

 

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