St. Maarten Trip Report 2010
Date: April 14, 2010 02:01PM
My husband and I have been traveling to St. Maarten for the last 12 years and we cherish each trip. But this time we decided to shake things up a little. Becoming a huge fan of message boards like GoBeach I had discovered that there were things to do on the island that we had never tried. I compiled a list and we decided that this trip we were going to think “out of the box”.
Now promise you’re not going to roll your eyes and laugh at us. Some of the places we knew about – we just never went to. Now we have some new favorite places to go.
Here were some of our “firsts”.
La Sucriere – I had looked for this place for years. Simpson Bay is so congested and confusing that I always missed it. Someone finally sent me directions. “There it is!!!!” I screamed one night after coming home from the Red Piano Bar. Hubby just about drove off the side of the road. There’s no way he could understand my excitement until the next day when he bit into a ham and cheese croissant and followed it up with one the best baguettes we’ve had outside of Provence. He gets it now.
Pineapple Pete’s – Loved it! I had the crab stuffed shrimp and Hubby had the chicken and rib combo. We almost licked our plates. The service was fantastic, the music was great, our waiter was a gem. We’ll be going back.
Buccaneer Beach Bar – Now I can say I’ve had the famous burger at the BBB with a BBC. As everything was set down in front of me I said, “Are you kidding?!!!! There must be 9000 calories here!” But I soldiered on and I think I was full for two days. Really. But it was worth the experience and the people that work there are fantastic.
Red Piano Bar – We had driven by this place probably nine hundred times and had never gone in. We’re kicking ourselves now. What a fantastic place. We went twice and had a terrific time. We danced and danced and when our feet got tired we watched the bar patrons put on a show (more about that later!)
Le Moulin Fou (Maho) – Kicking around Maho one night undecided where to go, we tried this restaurant. Wow! We’re still talking about the smoked salmon pasta in a rich creamy sauce. The spiced amaretto at the end of the meal was a nice addition.
Friday Jazz night at Karakters - We love this place during the day and now it’s one of our favorite Friday night pleasures. I have to admit that the tapas plate was a little bit of a let down but the music, the ambience, the staff and the lit torches on the beach made this an experience to enjoy!
Bamboo Bernie’s – We used to love Bernie’s when it was located by the ocean at Caravanserai. Going upstairs in the Maho Mall just didn’t appeal to us. But listening to all of you talk about the food we decided to suck it up and give it chance. You all were right - the sushi is fantastic. Very expensive but a very nice night out.
Rosie’s Ribs at Mullet – I’ve always been nervous about eating at a local BBQ but listening to you all rave about these ribs I decided to give it a try. We had a light breakfast and then planted at Mullet. I ordered up our ribs from the lovely ladies behind the counter then I went over and watched them being cooked. I really enjoyed talking to all the friendly people and it was fun to watch Rosie playing cards with a friend under the tree behind the BBQ. Finally I took our ribs back to our spot on the beach and we dug in. One bite made us close our eyes and we were transported to “rib rapture heaven”. How do they do it? The taste was out of this world. We had to go back the following week and do it all over again. The chef still wouldn’t tell me his secret.
Harmony Nights/Lolo – I was always too nervous to go to one of these little gems but after eating at Rosies on the beach we decided that we needed to try it out. We also had never gone to Harmony Nights in Grand Case before either. I know- I know!!!! How could we have missed out?. We always had good intentions but never made it because we were too tired or too beached out to head over. Let me tell you it was worth the drive. We ate at Talk of the Town and settled on the chicken and rib combo with three sides because I had to try them all. The curried rice was fantastic, we got a kick out of their Mac and Cheese and the salad was wonderful. The chicken and ribs were very good although Rosie’s at Mullet gets my vote for best ribs on the island. We met a beautiful lady named Maureen who shared some great stories about the island and our waitress Brenda liked us so much she took us over to her friend’s place for Champagne once she was done her shift. We were adopted by the locals that night and it felt good to be an islander!
Dinghy Dock – We designed our whole beach day around going for their Happy
Hour(s). Oh, we were Happy alright. The DD was cute, quaint and served one of the best rum punches I have ever had. Hubby ordered a rum and coke and after one sip decided it was a “rum shooter” because the coke was in there for coloring only! We were grinning like two crazy fools after two sips. We had some good chats with people at the bar and the people that run it were fantastic. We had to go back a second time!
Captain Oliver’s – I saved the best for last. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a meal so much. The Saturday night Seafood Buffet was out of this world. We made our reservation four weeks ahead of time so we wouldn’t be disappointed. After saying hello to the beautiful birds at the entrance area we were seated at our marina view table. Then I took hubby over the sea aquarium. The biggest turtle that I have ever seen was waving its flipper at us and later on we saw two sharks. Cool! I immediately tracked down Philippe and was so excited to finally meet him. What a great guy.
Now to the buffet and here’s the low down. It’s $52 U.S. per person and the food you get is worth double that. The selection of salads was amazing. Some of the standouts were baby shrimp smothered in a pineapple cream dressing, Italian caprese salad, a tasty Caesar, tuna and scallops, a bow tie pasta salad, crab salad, peel and eat shrimp, potato salad, and ceviche featuring salmon, tuna and scallops. Hubby held up a raw scallop and asked me if I thought it was alright to eat it. I told him that if Philippe was running the restaurant he would have no problem at all. The fish pot soup was amazing. You topped it off with a big, toasted garlic crouton, mozzarella cheese, garlic aioli and it was delicious. If you had any room left you went back for the main course dishes. There was duck roasted in a sweet sticky sauce, lamb, pork, chicken, beef and let me tell you about the lobster. Most people aren’t crazy about Caribbean lobster but I must say this was some of the tastiest we’ve had on the island. It wasn’t dry at all and not only was there garlic butter to compliment it there was also a spicy, vegetable tarragon sauce. If you had any room left on your plate you could add some rice, scalloped potatoes and these amazing artichoke hearts stuffed with vegetables and cream cheese. I had starved myself all day for this. I had gone on a huge power walk in the morning and then went for four big swims in the ocean. But I still barely had room for dessert! There was a fine selection of French cheese, a beautiful crème brulet, strawberries and cream, chocolate mousse, fresh fruit and a gorgeous apple tart. We tried them all, danced to the great band and then rolled out of there fat but extremely happy and satisfied. Wow!
Sunset Beach Bar – we love this place (we’re airplane fanatics) but several times we were charged an extra dollar per drink. There’s a front bar and a back bar and every time we ordered from a different place we were charged differently. Hubby finally found one of the owners and had a chat with him. He was shocked – of course. But he did come up to us several days later and asked us if we had anymore incidents. Actually we hadn’t because we stopped buying drinks there. (ha-ha)
Talk of the Town – The night we ate at Talk of the Town in Grand Case we received our bill with an extra 30 dollars owing tacked on to it. Once we brought it to their attention the bill was whisked away and quickly corrected. We’d like to think that this was just an error but it made us check our bills a little closer next time.
Service charges and tipping – this was a source of great frustration for us. Some restaurants were charging it and others weren’t. It made it hard to figure out what to tip.
Traffic – The bridge problem in Simpson Bay continues. Enuff said.
Gee – money and traffic problems. Just like home!
Not being able to meet Barbara C (moderator) and the Gardener. – They were off cruising Brazil. Maybe next time!
Highlights of the vacation –
Trying new things we had never done before. Yay!
Staying overnight in Anguilla
Having dinner with Jeff, Raj and his beautiful family from DK Gems International. Wonderful people and great friends.
Karakters – this place just seems to be getting better. One day we had the best lunch for two. We dined on smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, tuna salad on a multi grain bun, some of the best coconut shrimp I’ve ever had and a chicken satay that melted in your mouth. They topped it off with two glasses of Proseco. All this for 34 bucks! Don’t forget about the free chairs and umbrella if you eat there. This place rocks.
Seeing the Oasis of the Seas – now that is one big cruise ship! It makes the others look like little, skinny bumper boats.
Johan the CD seller in Phillipsburg – there is a wonderful man who cells CDs from a cart in town. Don’t be afraid to buy from him – his CDs are terrific.
Spending a day with billionaire Roman Abramovich – see report below.
Our day with Roman Abramovich – well not really – but he was on the island. We had seen his big jet parked at the airport for days. Set up at Karakters one afternoon, hubby was looking at all the yachts in Simpson Bay through his binoculars. (whatever else he was looking at I didn’t bother to ask). “Hey honey,” he says, “look at that big yacht. It’s called Pel, Pelu, Peli- nope it’s the Pelorus” “That’s Roman Abramovich’s yacht”, I said in my best know-it-all-voice. “It’s the 16th largest yacht in the world with two helicopter pads and a staff of 46”. A few minutes later, wouldn’t you know it, a big, gray helicopter swept over Simpson Beach. It was really low and didn’t gain much altitude. “It’s going to land on the yacht”, yelled hubby. “No way!” I said, as I stumbled to my feet. Sure enough, it hovered and then parked. Ten minutes later it took off again headed for St. Barts. “Hey, I bet Abramie is on board” crowed hubby. I looked at him sideways. Hubby looked pretty pleased with himself. “Abramie”. Best buds. But as I let sand gravity take over following the “show” I couldn’t help but wonder. What would it be like to run into “Abramie” and have him invite us over to the yacht for an afternoon of cocktails and sun? Hmmm. Better yet I think he should host a party on board the Pelorus. Anybody want to come?
Red Piano bar – Take a full day of sun, two quarts of rum, shake and stir – and you’ve got a show. There was a great guy from Britain behind the red piano the night we visited. His professional name was Hooker but he pronounced it “Hoo-Kah”. This guy could sing, play the piano and guitar and was a great entertainer. We danced and danced and then decided to take a break. That’s when the floor show started. A woman in her late 40’s started doing slow stripper moves on the floor. She was a display of swishing hips, hands and arms in the hair and a look of drunken ecstasy on her face. She quickly hopped up on the piano in case the people at the back couldn’t see her. She then (in time to the music) slowly started pulling her jean shorts down until her pink thong decorated butt was on display for all to see. Poor old “Hoo-kah”. He didn’t know what to do so he kept his head down and studied the keys of the piano really hard. At least I think it was the piano he was looking at. Then she really got going. People grabbed their drinks off the piano and jumped back. One of the bartenders rushed forward incase she flew off the piano. The bartender finally grabbed her hand and got her down to the floor. Obviously inspired by the performance a couple in their 50’s then started molesting each other on a bar stool. They were really going at it, almost to the point of making everyone feel uncomfortable. We were really hoping that they’d take it out to the car, the Pelican, the bathroom, anywhere but in front of our table. Finally they went – somewhere. I think we all needed a shower after that night –especially old “Hoo-Kah”.
Anguilla – We’ve gone on day trips for years to Anguilla. As this was our trip of “firsts” we decided to spend two days and one night. I’ve posted a separate trip report because it’s a little long but it has some good info if you’re planning on taking a trip.
Bottom Line – we had the BEST TIME. Anguilla is quieter, slower paced and more old -time Caribbean. It has its own certain charm and the islanders are wonderful. Shoal Bay East has been consistently rated one of the top three beaches in the world by Conde Nast for years. I always explain it like this. Take a bottle of baby powder and dump it on the floor. Now walk through it. That’s what the sand looks and feels like on Shoal Bay East. Please see my separate report for costs, experiences and reports on places to stay and an update on their golf course.
One other note. We were worried about leaving our rental car overnight in Marigot. I asked around and was told to park our car on the street in front of the big fancy Mall and it wouldn’t be bothered. He said he had seen cars parked there for days and no one touched them. Sure enough, our little yellow car that I called the sewing machine attached to the roller skate was safe and sound. We love small cars in St. Maarten. We had to laugh at the people driving Hummers around. Are they crazy?
So that wraps up my report. I love TTOL and my husband and I say ‘THANK YOU” for inspiring us to make our trip a little different this time. We still went to all our old favorites but this time we found more things to love about St. Maarten – if that’s possible.
Til next time!