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Condo Handbook

Brad

Condo Handbook

Food scene
Simpson's Bay is close by the condo on the other side of the airport. There are a large number of eating options in Simpson's Bay from high end (Sel and Pepe, Skipjacks) to ribs on the beach at the Buccaneer next to the Atrium Hotel. For Indian food I like Bombay Bites upstairs just before the Dutch side lift bridge, or Shiv Shakti in Pelican (upstairs from a convenience store, opposite the Atrium hotel, this is a local jewel). For a beach bar I like the Buccaneer, their $12 plate of ribs has no equal. Go in time to watch the sun set. In the other direction from Simpson's Bay, nearby in Cupecoy there are restaurants at Porto Cupecoy that are nice - the names change but the owners remain the same group - you can find different types of food all on the medium budget.
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Simpson Bay
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There are a number of quite nice restaurants within the Porto Cupecoy village. There is ample free parking and it's only a five minute drive from the condo if you want a change of scenery. On Monday nights during night season there is a outdoor movie that starts are 7pm. If you pass by during the day you can ask about the movie. Bring a blanket as it can get a little chilly in January under the stars. Also note that there is a Gourmet Marche, a little high end grocery store in Porto Cupecoy. They have a nice selection of cheese, wine and other goodies, and it's very close by.
Porto Cupecoy
There are a number of quite nice restaurants within the Porto Cupecoy village. There is ample free parking and it's only a five minute drive from the condo if you want a change of scenery. On Monday nights during night season there is a outdoor movie that starts are 7pm. If you pass by during the day you can ask about the movie. Bring a blanket as it can get a little chilly in January under the stars. Also note that there is a Gourmet Marche, a little high end grocery store in Porto Cupecoy. They have a nice selection of cheese, wine and other goodies, and it's very close by.
Neighbourhoods
Don't let the French side put you off. It's a short drive away, and it's distinctly different from the Dutch side. There are several nice grocery stores, nice beaches (generally less developed that the Dutch side beaches) and the possibility to take a hike to the highest point on the island (Pic Paradis). US Dollars are accepted everywhere on the French side, and it's often cheaper to pay with US than in Euros, so save the trouble and use US. Many local restaurants will accept US at par with the Euro (which is about a 15% discount). Check on the menu or on the signs outside, or ask as you sit. If you go to Marigot there are nice places by the seaside ferry terminal - we like Rosemary's for authentic local food which is beautiful, delicious and cheap. In high season there is a market in the mornings in Marigot - including for fresh fish (no fish on Monday as the fisherman don't work on Sunday). If you go take a bag and ice so you can bring back your purchase and keep it cool. You can drive around the island in about an hour to 90 minutes depending on traffic. It's a fun way to get oriented, and you can't go too far wrong as the road is a ring - keep going and you'll come to where you started.
Saint Martin
Don't let the French side put you off. It's a short drive away, and it's distinctly different from the Dutch side. There are several nice grocery stores, nice beaches (generally less developed that the Dutch side beaches) and the possibility to take a hike to the highest point on the island (Pic Paradis). US Dollars are accepted everywhere on the French side, and it's often cheaper to pay with US than in Euros, so save the trouble and use US. Many local restaurants will accept US at par with the Euro (which is about a 15% discount). Check on the menu or on the signs outside, or ask as you sit. If you go to Marigot there are nice places by the seaside ferry terminal - we like Rosemary's for authentic local food which is beautiful, delicious and cheap. In high season there is a market in the mornings in Marigot - including for fresh fish (no fish on Monday as the fisherman don't work on Sunday). If you go take a bag and ice so you can bring back your purchase and keep it cool. You can drive around the island in about an hour to 90 minutes depending on traffic. It's a fun way to get oriented, and you can't go too far wrong as the road is a ring - keep going and you'll come to where you started.
Maho is our neighbourhood. It is a neighbourhood apart, being far enough from local areas that it's left to the tourists except for Sunday on the beach. Maho has a number of restaurants, and the shops are slowly coming back after our 2017 hurricane. For now there is a reliable grocery, and a few of the usual suspects for souvenirs. There is one jewellery store with no doubt others opening in high season. There is a decent pharmacy on the corner, which can fix you up with most things. There is a nice gelato parlour I recommend. There are two beaches within Maho, Sunset beach where you can watch the planes land, or Mullet Bay beach where you can enjoy the gentle sloping sand and quiet waters of Mullet Bay beach. It is my favourite beach on the island. Parking can be sparce, so go early. Never leave valuables in your trunk at the beach - they are much safer left in the condos.
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Maho
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Maho is our neighbourhood. It is a neighbourhood apart, being far enough from local areas that it's left to the tourists except for Sunday on the beach. Maho has a number of restaurants, and the shops are slowly coming back after our 2017 hurricane. For now there is a reliable grocery, and a few of the usual suspects for souvenirs. There is one jewellery store with no doubt others opening in high season. There is a decent pharmacy on the corner, which can fix you up with most things. There is a nice gelato parlour I recommend. There are two beaches within Maho, Sunset beach where you can watch the planes land, or Mullet Bay beach where you can enjoy the gentle sloping sand and quiet waters of Mullet Bay beach. It is my favourite beach on the island. Parking can be sparce, so go early. Never leave valuables in your trunk at the beach - they are much safer left in the condos.
Sightseeing
If you are in the Caribbean for duty free shopping, you can't miss a chance to see Front Street in Philipsburg. There are jewellery stores, liquor stores, cigar stores, souvenir shops, they are all in a line. If you choose a piece of Jewellery you like, do say that you're going to have a look around and will come back - that will bring out the best and final price. There is a little bit of history on display in Philipsburg on old street that runs between Front and Back streets, also the Church of St. Maarten of Tours right on the Boardwalk is usually open to drop by and have a look - and if you get thirsty St. Maarten of Tours will forgive you if you get a beer on the way home. There are local markets near the court house in town - you can buy a souvenir license plate or some kick knacks for home. Look for the locally produced flavoured rum, and try before you buy to make sure you've picked the best flavour for you. I don't personally like the Guavaberry liquor they make locally, but you might. There is a shop with tastings on Front street towards the eastern end.
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Philipsburg
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Ile Pinel is a small flat island that you can visit via local fisherman's boat or ferry most days, wind permitting. It's a chance to see undeveloped beach and get away from the crowds. There are a few shacks on the island that can serve you something to eat, but please be prepared in case they are closed. It's the Caribbean after all.
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Îlet de Pinel
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Ile Pinel is a small flat island that you can visit via local fisherman's boat or ferry most days, wind permitting. It's a chance to see undeveloped beach and get away from the crowds. There are a few shacks on the island that can serve you something to eat, but please be prepared in case they are closed. It's the Caribbean after all.
Marigot is the capital of the French side of St Martin. It is more populated than the Dutch side capital. It has a nice seashore, with a market in the mornings and a group of good locally owned and operated "lolo's" located next to the ferry terminal. It does not have as many shops as Philipsburg, but there are still things that are better than on the Dutch side - there is an eye clinic and opticians if you loose your glasses - there are shoes and French fashions on sale too. You just have to look in the windows. A note about shopping, most French shops close for about 2 hours at lunch, usually 12-2 but not always. If you are making a special trip, do be aware of this French tradition. Of course the French side restaurants are busy during the two hour lunch break.
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Marigot
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Marigot is the capital of the French side of St Martin. It is more populated than the Dutch side capital. It has a nice seashore, with a market in the mornings and a group of good locally owned and operated "lolo's" located next to the ferry terminal. It does not have as many shops as Philipsburg, but there are still things that are better than on the Dutch side - there is an eye clinic and opticians if you loose your glasses - there are shoes and French fashions on sale too. You just have to look in the windows. A note about shopping, most French shops close for about 2 hours at lunch, usually 12-2 but not always. If you are making a special trip, do be aware of this French tradition. Of course the French side restaurants are busy during the two hour lunch break.

Conseils sur la ville

Réservez avant de partir
Arrival instructions
When you arrive at the Blue Marine complex locate your building (A or C) and when you reach the unit you are renting the outer wooden door will be unlocked. When you enter the condo there will be a lock box on the wall. Use the code you were provided with separately to unlock the inner door.
Réservez avant de partir
Departure instructions
When the last day of your stay arrives please follow these steps: - please close all doors to the balconies - please turn off lights and the air conditioning - lock both locks on the inner wooden door - put the keys back in the key box - close the key box and return the code to "0000" - turn the knob on the upper door handle on the outside door - pull the outer door shut and checked that the handle is locked. Have a safe trip home and we hope you visit St. Maarten again.
Coutumes et culture
Mullet Bay beach is a local hang out on Sundays
which have a totally different feel than every other day of the week. Mullet is normally not crowded and is peaceful. On Sunday's unless you want to see life a local, choose another beach.
Voyage en solo
Safety
Sint Maarten is wealthy for a Caribbean island, but as a visitor you are unimaginably wealthy for many of the locals. Avoid wearing jewellery / fancy watches while out. Exercise caution at night, stay within the busy areas. You'll know if you are in the wrong place, just turn around and seek out the bright lights and tourists. Don't do things you would not do at home.
Manières de faire des économises
Book you rental car in advance
There are a number of companies renting cars on the island. As far as the big names go, I prefer Dollar/Thrifty. I have never had an issue with anyone who rented from them. You can save a bit of money by booking a car in advance, and there are local outfits that will rent a car for less - but you are much better off to have made your arrangements before you arrive. There are kiosks in the airport for the usual suspects. Buses will take you from the airport to the (nearby) rental locations. Allow an extra 30 minutes to get to your plane if you have to drop off a rental car.
Déplacements
The PJIA airport experience
Our local airport was badly damaged by the hurricane of 2017. It's being badly rebuilt too boot! Expect your arrival to be cramped as immigration uses a corner of the airport only - then you can grab your bags. Lucky visitors from Canada on the direct flights can expect a second screening with your bags being X-rayed again, as the locals search for Canadians bringing marijuana to the Caribbean. This is a little like people from the Caribbean bringing snow to Canada, but just grin and bear it. It will soon pass. Once you are outside, a cab can take you to the condo - tell the dispatcher you want to go to Blue Marine and they will tell you the fare (around $12). They do change $1 per bag above 1 bag per person. When you arrive to the airport on your way home, expect the line to be slow. After you drop off you bag, you will be screened by immigration who will record your departure on their computer. Once through that you will be screened and finally you will be able to find a seat a chill. Because of the airport repairs you will not be "at the gate" and it's important to listen to the announcements to know when to go up to the line and get on a bus to your plane. It can be hard to hear - don't almost miss your flight like me!
Réservez avant de partir
Mosquito safety
My daughter taught me that Mosquitos are the most dangerous animals on earth --- really. More people die or get sick from Mosquito bites each year than are eaten by piranhas, lions, tigers, snakes etc. She has a point. The local mosquites can and do carry some things it's best to avoid. Wear light clothing at night. Pack some insect repellant and watch out for 20 minutes either side of sunset when they come out. Places by the water, when there is no wind are most affected. If you get bitten, try not to scratch. That makes the itching much worst - let alone in 20 minutes the itching is gone. If you scratch, you can "enjoy" the bite for up a week! Within the condos, we urge you to use the provided mosquito screens. Don't leave the doors open and run the Airco - that won't work either. The mosquitos will still smell you and come for a quick bite.
Réservez avant de partir
The Tropical Sun
The sun in St. Maarten is strong. If you are not used to it, you can easily get burned in a very short time. That will limit your enjoyment of the island, so please use sunscreen. Start with at least a 30 if you are fair skinned - avoid the sun between 11 AM and 1PM. By the water, watch out for reflected sunlight- it's still able to burn you in the shade! The locals will walk on the shady side of the street. Show them you understand and do the same. Consider a hat and if you are bald, have a plan... please! You will enjoy being by the water more if you have a good pair of polarized sunglasses. You can get temporarily blinded by the sun on the sand the same way you can have snow blindness (not that snow blindness is an issue in SXM). Bottom line, respect the sun.
Réservez avant de partir
Drinking the water
The municipal water in Sint Maarten / Saint Martin is to european standards. It's safe to drink. Local food standards are high, and food preparers are trained. That said, consider drinking your beer in the "glass" it comes in. If you have a sensitive constitution, bottled water is widely available.