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Trip Report St Martin and Anguilla Trip Report

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Thank you to everyone who has posted and whose advice I used. I used Fodors and Anguilla Guide significantly to plan this trip. I’m not sure how much my report will contribute, as almost everything I did was based off of these websites, particularly choosing restaurants in Anguilla.

Flight: American Airlines, Boston to SXM via San Juan. No problems other than on the return, we sat on the runway in San Juan for 25 minutes waiting for a gate. Security was mess in San Juan, so with an hour to claim luggage, customs, agricultural check, and security, it was a very tight squeeze.

Ferry: On the way to Anguilla, I took the regular ferry. $3 departure tax, and $12 fare that you pay on board. I had no problems, but heard stories from others. On return, I took Fun Time Charters – highly recommended. Book says cab from Marigot to airport is around $20, but someone I met was charged $35 plus tip, 2 people. Fun Time is $65 plus $3 for shuttle; was on my hotel bill. It’s a nice boat and was a smooth ride on a breezy, slightly choppy day. I think the price is worth the convenience of going straight to Dutch side and then short shuttle from dock to airport. $5 departure tax in Blowing Point.



HOTELS:

St Martin: La Plantation in Orient Beach. I would definitely recommend. It’s not on the beach, but does have a view from the patio. I liked the location, as I wanted to be near Grand Case. I found the location of being on Orient Beach convenient to getting around the island. Staff was friendly and helpful; studio room was spacious and clean. The advertised rate was $185/night; however, I booked thru www.hotel-caribbean.com and got the room for $654 total with taxes for 4 nights, plus transportation from airport to hotel ($35 cab ride value). So, $163 a night – a great deal.

Anguilla: Ocean/Pool view room at Ku on Shoal Bay East. I loved the hotel, and would stay there again in a heartbeat. I loved the room, the staff was extremely friendly, and Deon and Emily are making positive changes at the bar and restaurant. The hotel is no longer under the management of Cap Julaca, and the staff seems happy about that. I think this is the best beach, and had a blast with the other guests.






CAR RENTAL:

St Martin: United Car Rental. Extremely easy to deal with and very pleasant. They brought car to my hotel, and then met me at the ferry in Marigot for return. $106 for 3 days, compact. Gas is expensive on the French side. Half a tank was 30 euro, so it turned into almost $44, yikes!

Anguilla: Bryan’s Car Rental. Again, easy to deal with and very pleasant. Brought car to hotel, and then I left at ferry dock. Was cheaper than Avis. Compact was $40 day with insurance. Half a tank gas was $30.




ACTIVITIES:

St Martin:

Butterfly Farm: Recommended. Was something different to do and I found to be interesting. $12 entrance fee, which is good for all the days you’re on island.

Zoo: not recommended. Not much to see, and kind of in sad shape.

Shopping: If you know your prices, you can get a good deal in Philipsburg on jewerly. It’s a headache though, as when it’s slow, they are VERY aggressive. Only other thing I bought were some nice purses in Grand Case.

If you’re interested in any boating activities, have your hotel double check. One book said there were sunset cruises from Grand Case, but given the time of year (early Nov), it was only sailing out of Simpson Bay.

Anguilla:

Snorkeling: I went on Chocolat. Very highly recommended. Double check on when they’re sailing, as they didn’t go the day I wanted. Rawlins (I hope I spelt right) and Deon were great hosts. Cost $80, meet at 9:15 and return around 3:30. Departs from dock behind Johnno’s on sandy Ground. Catarman that holds 12 people, and goes to Prickly Pear ( great snorkeling) and Sandy Island ( not as good as Prickly Pear). Lunch included ( fish, ribs or ribs and chicken). Good food, and a big plate. Unlimited drinks. 12 people is the perfect size, as there was a big catarman from St Maarten, and there were too many people on that!

Spa: I went to Malliouhana. This was my first spa visit ever, and loved it. Cuisinart would’ve been $60 less, but their treatments are 50 minutes versus 60 minutes at Malliouhana. I had the coconut scrub ( $145) and massage ($115), and would get again. Don’t remember name of person I had; she’s returning home to Bali after this season. Expansion construction is still not complete at Cuisinart.

Shopping: Not much shopping on Anguilla. I did find beautiful Christmas ornaments at a store called Something Special. Drugstore normally has a good selection of t-shirts; however, they were awaiting a new arrival so stock was limited when I was there. Drugstore also has best selection of postcards.


RESTAURANTS:

St Martin:

La Plantation included continental breakfast that’s served poolside.

Busby’s Beach Bar has 75 cent Caribs from 11-4! They’re $4 at sunset beach bar.

Orient Beach, Kontiki: The hotel has room charging privileges with the 5 restaurants on Orient Beach. All the restaurants are expensive! Kontiki, grilled ham and cheese and pina colada, 17 euro before tip. With 1.42 exchange rate, it was $33!!!

Grand Case: I recommend seeking out restaurants that offer a 1 for 1 exchange if you pay cash. Grand Case was very quiet the nights I was there, did not need reservations. I heard several times that the French side is really hurting due to the exchange rate. If you do pay with credit card you need to leave the tip in cash.

L’Auberge Gormand: Recommended. Food was good, and the service was excellent. One of the busier restaurants on the strip. Very pretty restaurant. 3 glasses of wine, bottled water, starter, entrée, dessert, and coffee was around $70 euro, or $101 USD. Did offer the one for one.

Lolo’s: I loved it here. Very casual place set amongst the expensive restaurants of Grand Case. Picnic tables and local women cooking. Service was a little slow, but for entrees that are between $8 and $12, who really cares? Also offered one for one exchange.

Le Pressoir: Highly recommended. This was a splurge – not sure if they offered cash deal; didn’t ask as I didn’t have enough. Beautiful restaurant. Outstanding food, presentation and service. They had an appetizer special of foie gras macaroons with local fruit that was really amazing. Starter, entrée, dessert and bottled water was about $70 euro. My bill was more, as I also had a bottle of wine. Expensive, with exchange rate, but didn’t regret going.


Marigot: I didn’t see any restaurants offering the cash exchange. I did see signs for a less of an exchange rate, ie $1.25 instead of $1.42

La Belle Époque: I had pizza, so not much to say. Was good - $23 USD


Anguilla:

Now this was the highlight of my trip. I spent weeks pouring over menus and people’s recommendations. Too many choices for such little time. Sad to say I missed Smokey’s and Koal Keel. Next Nov can’t come fast enough.

Zara’s - recommended. I could eat the seafood crepe and garlic snapper everyday! 2 glasses of wine, starter, entrée and bottled water - $67 with 15% service included

Picante’s - The seafood enchiladas are worth the drive from shoal bay east. Everything but the seafood enchiladas is under $20. Fun atmosphere, great service, and great food. Entrée, dessert, 2 margaritas $56 with 15% service.

Veya - I cannot say enough about this place!!! Out of all the great meals I had, this was my favorite. Gorgeous restaurant, best service I had anywhere (Nadika rocks!) amazing food, beautiful presentation, and a great wine list, especially the by the glass selection. 2 glasses of wine, bottled water, starter, entrée (best duck I’ve ever had), and dessert was $90 with 15% service.

Straw Hat - I have to say I was disappointed. It was good, but not great. I think it’s the bill that bothers me. 2 glasses of wine, bottled water, starter and entrée, $80 with 15%. For the $10 difference, I would’ve much rather been back at Veya. Though the coconut rice is a recipe I want for sure!

Overlook - I went for breakfast and it was very good. The lobster benedict was worth it! $30 with 15%.

Cuisinart - I wanted to see the property. Pancakes, coffee and juice around $22. Others were raving about the lobster here.

Trattoria Tramonto - I didn’t think it was anything special. Only went as I wasn’t hungry enough for Smokey’s. 2 glasses wine, and pasta, $32 with 15% service.

Blanchard’s - I had mixed feeling before going as it kept being mentioned to me that it’s overrated. I loved it!!! This is how I first learned about Anguilla, and I have to admit that the timing of my trip was based around going to Blanchard’s. It made for a very special last night. Beautiful setting, great service, and wonderful food. What I really liked was that I asked for help with the wine list – I was willing to spend more, but the bottle that was recommended to me was $45, and very good. I also like how happy the staff is here. There is one guy in particular that walks around with the biggest grin – it can only make you smile! This was my big splurge of the trip. Bottled water, bottle of wine, starter ( lobster and shrimp cakes are amazing!), caribbean sampler, cracked coconut and after dinner drink, $175 with 15% service. It was everything I hoped for!


Final Thoughts:

The best advice I picked up off these sites, to drive Anguilla in the daylight on your first day BEFORE you drive to dinner in the pitch black. It makes a big difference. Best advice I could give - if it’s your first time in St Martin, take a cab to the hotel, and then get car. I found it helpful in getting my bearings, and for how they drive.

The one thing I didn’t bring, but surely needed – bug spray!! And as a result of not having bug spray, hydrocortisone.

I had some concerns about traveling alone to a “honeymoon destination” and feeling alone. Not once did I feel alone or uncomfortable. I had an absolute blast and made a lot of new friends both on island and off. Now I understand why people go back to Anguilla, and why people cry at checkout (literally). As soon as I walked back into work, the first thing I said is “2 weeks next year”!

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