Going to St.Maarten was our first “off of a resort” type travel experience. It held many firsts for us! It was our first time renting a car in a foreign country, our first time renting a condo, and our first time really exploring a country that we had never been to, without a tour guide telling us what we should see and do.
We went in 2015, and we flew into St.Maarten on Mitch’s birthday. Mitch’s parents were there and had been to St.Maarten many times before us, so we were excited to have family there that could show us around the island and give us a feel for what we’d be able to see.
We stayed at a condo that we found on Kijiji (a website similar to Craigslist). The owners were originally from Toronto, Canada so we met up with them before flying out to grab the keys. It was a really interesting experience! There was a little pool, which we never swam in because it was full of algae, but the room itself was small and clean. For transportation, we decided to rent a car for the week, which we rented from Thrifty Car Rentals. It was a cute little thing that could park in VERY small spots.
Our week was filled with delicious food, beaches, and some new friendships! We went to 3 Amigos which is a bar and Mexican cuisine restaurant. We made friends with the bartenders, who later in the week showed us some great rooftop bars. They were really friendly people, who we’re still Facebook friends with to this day.
Another restaurant that is an absolute must is the Pizza Galley. Mitch loved their pizza. We went there quite a few times, and chatted with the owner who is originally from Montréal, Canada. I don’t know if they’re still open since Hurricane Irma, but if they are- we highly recommend eating there.
One of our favourite beaches was Mullet Bay Beach. There’s a beach vendor who sells ribletes and the best strawberry daiquiris- YUM! Another beach that is an absolute must see is Maho Beach. Have you ever seen a photo like this one? Yeah, that’s Maho! It’s really crowded but totally worth it. Except that time when we dropped to the ground like everyone else, when a plane nicked the (8 foot tall?) fence. That wasn’t so fun, but made for a good story afterwards.
I think one of my favourite parts of the entire trip was scuba diving. It was mine and Mitch’s first time diving, and we went with Scuba Dive Fun Center. They were really thorough in teaching us and even took pictures for us. Before this trip, we both had only been snorkelling. This trip solidified my love for water, and gave us a new hobby that we could enjoy together.
Driving around the island was one of Mitch’s favourite parts of the entire trip. Having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted, and to meet people of all different walks of life was quite freeing. We picked up a young hitchhiker one afternoon near Maho Beach (sorry mom!), he was really nice and wasn’t a serial killer, so no harm done.
Overall, we had a great trip and this is where we realized that we wanted to continue traveling for years to come.