By Ron Stern, Travel Photojournalist
If you’re looking for a getaway, think about the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. It’s small, only 37 square miles, but jam-packed with beautiful beaches lapped by crystal-clear water, a hilly interior for hiking, biking and riding, delicious cuisine and friendly people.
It’s not jam-packed with people, however. Only about 40,000 people live on the French side of the island – although this is augmented on a daily basis when cruise ships disgorge their passengers.
If you fly here, it’ll be into the Princess Juliana airport which is on the Dutch side of the island. You can rent a car or take a cab to your lodgings.
Marigot, the capital of the French side, has a permanent population of about six thousand people, most of whom speak both French and English. Cute little boulangeries and patisseries line the main street and are good places to enjoy a snack and people watch.
If you love food, then head over to Grand Case known as the “Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean.” The area has about 100 restaurants of all types including Creole, barbeque, and French cuisines.
If you you’d like to see Carnival, then plan for your visit in midFebruary. People young and old of all shapes and sizes wearing costumes and with faces painted in a dazzling array of colors, dance through the streets to the delight of the crowds.
Spend your mornings and afternoons relaxing on one of this island’s many beaches, swimming, snorkeling or sunbathing. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Loterie Farm eco resort for their fly zone or enjoy some Caribbean Asian food in their treetop level Hidden Forest Cafe.
For more information visit: www.stmartinisland.org