Guess what?! It’s St. Martin’s Day! On November 11 we celebrate our beautiful island, our heritage, culture and our people. I’m missing home today, but I wanted to share with you 8 cool things about my island.
1. The island’s indigenous name is Soualiga.
Soualiga means “Land of salt”, named by the Amerindian settlers (Arawak & Carib Indians) that inhabited the island before the arrival of European colonizers. This was because the island had large salt deposits, which was a huge industry for the island for centuries. Columbus sighted Soualiga on November 11, 1493, which was a holiday “St. Martin of Tours" – and that’s where we get St. Martin’s Day.
2. There are 37 beaches, one for every square mile
That’s right – St. Martin is only 37 square miles, but we have an abundance of beaches. Click here for a list of all 37 beaches as well as pics!
4. Pic Paradis is the island’s highest point and offers amazing views
Pic Paradis (or Paradise Peak translated from French) is located on the French side of the island and is a must see! At the highest point is its 1,391ft high and provides panoramic views of the island as well as nearby islands. You can drive to the top, but you can also hike it as well There is also a charming boutique hotel & villa called Stay Pic Paradis where you can stay in luxurious style surrounded by nature and views.
6. St. Martin is super diverse with 80+ nationalities represented on the island
St. Martin is truly a melting pot. I grew up with people from many different islands and countries. I think that’s what makes it such a special place. You learn to appreciate diversity because you live it daily. Also, 5 different languages are spoken on the island (Dutch, French, Spanish, Papiamento, English), although Dutch and French is are the official languages of the respective sides of the island, while English is commonly spoken.
7. Pinel Island is one of the St. Martin’s best kept secrets
Pinel Island (or Îlet de Pinel, because it’s on the French side) is counted in the list of 37 beaches and is a must see when visiting the island. I mean, have you ever stood in water so clear that if you are waist deep you see straight down to your toes? Yea…Pinel. The good news is that it’s super easy to get there. All you do is take a speed boat from Orient Beach and for $15 you’ll be there in a matter of minutes.
8. St. Maarten has one of the world most dangerous airports.
Well, most dangerous or most fun, depending on how you look at it, lol. You may have seen the infamous videos on Youtube of planes landing super close to the beach, so much so that they kick up sand into the eyes of those looking on? Yup, that’s us! The runway is short and is just beyond the small beach near Mullet Bay called Caravanserai. The giant 747 plans have to get quite low in order to clear the runway, which is always a show. It is quite the attraction and is VERY exhilarating. I call it “plane catching” and I could spend hours on the beach waiting for the large planes to come in. Just remember to be safe and follow local guidelines (meaning, stay on the beach and don’t try to get close to the plane jet blast).
I hope you enjoyed my list and that you learned something about St. Maarten/St. Martin that you didn’t know before. I recommend everyone visit as it is one of the most beautiful places on earth with the friendliest people you’ll ever meet! They don’t call us “The Friendly Island” for nothing!
Until the next adventure,
I am a world traveler. I like calling myself that - it feels good! I've traveled to over 30 countries on 5 different continents, so getting on a plane is like a drug to me :) It had been a little over a year since my last international trip (to Aruba - stay tuned for that post!) and I was itching to go somewhere. Not to mention, I had been working at my new job for 6 months without even taking a day off! Talk about commitment. I love my job, but desperately needed a break.
So what's a girl to do when the travel bug has bitten her, but an international trip is neither in the budget nor schedule?
Well, because I knew I desperately needed a getaway, I went on Google Travel and randomly picked a city close enough that it was inexpensive to get to but would also be fun. I landed on Austin, TX. Hmm...I'd never been to the great country of Texas other than for a job interview almost 2 years ago when I didn't even leave the airport area. Austin should be interesting, I thought. And I can make anything fun for 3 days. YOLO, amirite? One thing you'll learn about me is that I'm thrifty. This sista likes to save a dollar! Hollar! (See what I did there? lol). To my delight, I had enough airline miles to purchase a ticket, and I was off to planning my trip.
So how did I spend my solo weekend getaway?? I'm about to divulge all the fun things I did, by day. And if you find yourself in Austin or thinking about going, check them out below!
Saturday (Day 1):
Brunch at Moonshine Grill. Of course I arrived hungry. As soon as I got to my hotel, I threw my bags down and found the closest appetizing restaurant within walking distance. Brunch at Moonshine was pretty good. It was a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere. I was trying to be all southern and stuff, so I ordered the Chicken and Waffles. HUGE portion, but it was good. Plus the wait staff was friendly and helped give me recommendation on what to do in the city. (I had a loose agenda, but made sure to solicit the opinion of the locals for other things to do).
Stroll along the Colorado River. I needed to walk off brunch so I decided to take a nice, long stroll along the river. I'm an island girl, so bodies of natural water get me excited, lol. Fun fact: local Austinites actually call the river "Lady bird lake." No idea why. Weird, right? Anyway... I continued with my walk along the river...err...lake or whatever.
I enjoyed the breeze and seeing so many people active (running, walking, biking etc.). It was a great way for me to clear my head. One thing I regret is not doing this later in the afternoon when it wasn't hotter than biscuits. Dang - Austin is HOT! Even in October. Luckily, there are little paths that take you back up to street level to the main street. When I couldn't bear the heat any longer, I found the closest froyo place and planted my behind until I cooled off.
Graffitti Park at Castle Hill. Next up was channeling my inner graffiti artist. There is this super cool spot called Graffiti Park, and I arrived in less than a 10 minute Lyft ride from the froyo place downtown. How do I describe this place? It's a series of walls and nooks where graffiti artists, professional and amateur alike, come to express themselves with a can of spray paint. People literally arrive with can in hand, ready to make their mark. The coolest part of my experience there is seeing professional graffiti artists start or finish off a creative masterpiece. As if that wasn't intriguing enough, it's on a hill so if you climb to the top, you get a panoramic view of downtown Austin. I highly recommend it!
Congress Street Bat Colony. I had heard so much about the bat colony that lives under the Congress Street bridge. With 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, it's the largest bat colony in North America. I was told the bats emerge from under the bridge at sunset, so I showed up early to make sure I could get a spot. Sure enough, when I arrived, about 50-70 people were already there! We were all patiently waiting for 2 hours for these things to make an appearance! It would have been a chore if I hadn't made friends with a group of girls who were also visiting (from San Francisco). We were cracking jokes and speculating about how the bats all knew when it was time for them all to leave? Did they do roll call? Did they wait for everyone to line up before they made an exit? What if someone forgot their bat shoes? LOL. It was fun, HOWEVER, I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the bat show. When they finally emerged it was dark outside and you could barely see the bats. They were so tiny and flew low below the bridge, so it was hard to take pictures of them. Plus, I was expecting them to come out in sync in a large swarm, but instead they all came out sporadically flying in multiple directions. Needless to say, the fun we had waiting for them was better than actually seeing the bats fly out. Oh well. Maybe next time they'll put on a better show.
Whew! I'm exhausted with just the recap. So what's the moral of the story? You can do a TON on a weekend getaway. Even though it was brief, I got a good feel for the city. But most importantly, I got some much-needed R&R. For me, exploring is actually relaxing and refreshing. Till the next travel adventure...
What weekend trips have you been on lately that you would recommend?
About this page
This "Travel" page is a space for me to share my stories from both national and international travel adventures