We left Orlando ready for some r&r and island time. After an early flight we arrived on the island of Saint Martin, which is both a French and Dutch territory. To kick off our stay, we decided to spend 2 nights on the French side, then would ferry over to the island of St. Barts before coming back and spending our final night on the Dutch side.
There are very few places you can actually walk to on both Saint Martin and St. Barts so renting a car was key. And it’s a good thing Mike drives a stick and we live close to San Francisco, because manual was our only option and Saint Martin is hilly! I would be lost without him. 😉
We arrived at Grande Case Beach Club and treated ourselves to a welcome cocktail, plus a shared order of calamari and a Caesar salad. The patio overlooked the ocean, where the water was such a clear, pretty blue. I couldn’t wait to hop in!
Our room had fresh flowers scattered around, a bottle of wine to enjoy later, and a patio that opened up to a private beach for hotel guests. It was all very romantic and perfect for a honeymoon. Without question the first thing we did was take a dip in the ocean.
We were ready for dinner shortly after our swim and sauntered back to the hotel restaurant. Yum! It was one of the best meals we had there! Even more impressive was that it was cooked entirely in a small camper because the hotel kitchen was still under construction from hurricane Irma damages. This – among other things like chipped concrete and a few patches of dried out vegetation – were signs that the island was still recovering.
We walked to the down town area after dinner for a drink at the Blue Martini. (At the time, I didn’t realize that is was rare to be able to walk anywhere on Saint Martin – or St. Barts – so we took this walk for granted.) The Blue Martini was a quintessential island bar; outdoors, not too fancy with good spirited bar tenders and live music.
Another glorious thing I took for granted when we were at Grand Case was the free breakfast the hotel provided in the morning (foreshadowing that this was not so on the next island we went to… $$$). We enjoyed coffee/tea, croissants, and fresh fruit seaside before packing our stuff and heading out to explore.
Our adventure of choice that day was jet skiing. Equal parts fun and anxiety-filled for me. One hundred percent thrill for Mike (when he was able to go fast without me jamming my fingernails into his ribs hahaha). Once our hour on the jet ski was up, we bobbed around in the warm ocean water for a bit, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to spend our days.
This might be weird coming from anyone else but I’m sure it’s “on brand” for me… one of my favorite things to do when traveling is going to the local grocery store. I knew I wanted to hit up a few on the island, with all of that French influence. Hiii, all of the cheese and nom fresh ingredients!
We bought a small sampler of different cheeses, some grapes, and nuts before promptly going back to our hotel, opening a bottle of wine to pair with our local goods and sitting right by another beach to enjoy the waves again. Ahhh, bliss.
For dinner we wondered over to a gorgeous French restaurant downtown and enjoyed freshly baked bread, more wine, local fish, and seasonal vegetables. For such a gorgeous place, I was surprised it wasn’t packed. We chatted a bit with the owners who mentioned they were just starting to make their slow recovery from the destruction of the hurricane.
It was a small drop in their economy but I’m glad we spent our money there. Plus, we learned about the best spot to go to next: the rum bar right next door.
Looking back this was one of our favorite experiences of our honeymoon. When we first arrived we were the only ones there, which meant all of the owners attention. We learned about rum made from molasses vs. sugarcane and all of the different places it came from. Then we got real creative and asked if we go off-menu, ordering a sampler instead of one drink each. He agreed. We gave him creative liberty to pour us his choices. We learned how to properly drink rum.
Smell. Swirl. Sip. Savor. Swallow.
Pour more. Repeat.
Eventually more people wandered into the bar, which oddly worked in our favor since the owner started pouring slightly larger pours to keep us occupied a little longer while he tended to the others.
We walked back after our rum flight happy and content, crossing paths with a little black cat that I loved and wanted to take home. Not one for the superstition of bad luck, I fell asleep without a care that night; looking forward to the next day and our final stop on our honeymoon, St. Barts!