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Today, the Octopus presents Saint-Martin, a paradise-like island featuring multiple wonders that do not fail to amaze sailors who drop anchor there!
Dream anchorages, a unique culture, heavenly beaches and lush biodiversity, this is what awaits in Saint-Martin!
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Saint-Martin, 37 beaches on one Island
Weather and Season : less rainy than the other Islands around
With an average of 27 degrees in the air and 25 in the water, summer never stops in Saint-Martin. In addition, the thermal amplitude is less important than in its southern neighbors (Guadeloupe and Martinique). Consequently, the island has a dry season (from December to April) and a wet season (from May to November) with minor differences in precipitation rates.
That being true, the wet season still comes with major risks of hurricanes. From June to September it is best to avoid the Island although authorities are always on high alert (consequences of Irma, a hurricane that destroyed the island a few years ago).
4 good reasons to go to Saint-Martin
1- For its dual culture, unique in the world.
Indeed, the island is separated into two parts, French and Dutch, and this since the arrival of Christoph Colomb a few centuries ago. Instead of fighting over the island, the two parties, in good spirits that day (probably because it’s quite hard to be in a bad mood in St. Maarten), split it in two and shook hands on it. To the north the French part, a French collectivity, and to the south the Dutch part, an independent state of the crown of the Netherlands. To seal this cordial sharing, the two parties even agreed on a binational anthem nicknamed the ”O Sweet Saint-Martin’s Land”. Nevertheless, the French, probably offended by the use of Shakespear’s language, also use the ‘’Marseillaise’’ .
2- To visit Marigot and its unique ''Creole '' culture
On an island that may look like a jet-setter den, Marigot is a place apart that exudes tradition and authenticity. There you will enjoy an authentic atmosphere unique to the island. The sober architecture of the city shines in bright colors composing a perfect setting for a laid-back saunter in the narrow streets of Marigot. Local markets, cozy bars and restaurants, historic places like Fort Louis and the Saint-Martin museum and white sand beaches, there is something for everyone in the Creole capital of the island.
3- For its 37 heavenly beaches
The island of Saint-Martin features no less than 37 beaches over an area of just 100 km2. This represents a very high ratio of paradise per inhabitant! With so many beaches, there’s enough room to comfortably welcome everyone. Even though St. Maarten is a popular tourist destination, you’ll always find a quiet piece of paradise on the island’s coastlines. Happy Bay, Anse des Pères, Anse Marcel and Baie aux prunes are the most famous beaches on the island. There you can enjoy exceptional natural settings for a laid-back sunbathing and swimming session. Sometimes wild, sometimes developed, from Robinson Crusoe to Tim Cooks, everyone finds a suitable match on the pristine beaches of Saint-Martin.
4- For its uniquely diverse fauna and flora
Saint-Martin benefits from a particular situation which favors the development of astonishing biodiversity! On a plateau stretching from Saint-Martin to Antigua and Saint-Barthélémy, they form together, a nature reserve home to many tropical species. From the mangroves, nurseries for fish and birds, to the steep cliffs and fine sandy beaches bordered by tropical forests, the natural park will surprise you! Scuba diving enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the teeming sea life over Saint-Martin waters, especially at the famous Rocher Créole diving site! .
The best anchorages in Saint-Martin
At the top of our list comes the Marigot Bay anchorage and for good reasons.
First, it is the strategic entry point to explore the island. Although little protected from the winds, it remains comfortable with little rolling (apart from that created by the incessant ballet of boats entering and leaving the bay). The seabed offers good holding, and once safely anchored, you can easily access the town by berthing your dinghy on the pontoon available on the anchorage.
You can’t visit Saint-Martin without exploring the French and Creole capital of Marigot. With its typical architectural style, local markets and a ”laid-back” atmosphere, it has everything to please the visiting sailor. In addition, you will find everything you need to refuel at rather decent prices (especially for Saint-Martin).
Marigot is also the starting point for several activities to undertake on the island. Bucolic excursions, motorized or not, diving sessions or a helicopter ride of the island, everything is possible from Marigot. Finally, at Marigot you can start enjoying the pristine beaches everybody is talking about in Saint-Martin. Plan an afternoon at the neighbor ‘’Baie de Netteté’’ ,set your feet in the sand, relax and enjoy the holiday.
Whether it is to discover Saint-Martin or simply enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Marigot, be sure to drop anchor in the French capital of the island!
La Baie de Grande Case
Our next anchorage is a little further north of Marigot, in the bay of Grande Case. The setting is much wilder than in Marigot. The green mountains hug a white sandy beach forming the most picturesque tropical setting. A superb panorama that you can enjoy right from the deck of your ship!
Well protected from North-easterlies to southerlies, you will anchor comfortably in the Bay sandbanks, at depths of 3 to 10 meters. However, beware of a rogue anchor that can cause you problems as it did to K & Sophie, during their visit there last February. Here’s their comment, so you can avoid making the same mistake!
‘‘Attention to the North, facing the hotel (wooden kiosk) 150-200m offshore, an old well-hung anchor is lying at the bottom and can get tangled up in yours!! , it’s from experience, we tried to get it out, but only after 2 hours of herculean effort!”’
Ashore, a superb beach will welcome you as well as a few bars, restaurants and taverns to quench your thirst. Some display parisian prices (that means they are very high), while others are more affordable, but your best bet is to take advice from boaters who repeatedly recommend the Bistrot Caraibes, the Rainbow Bar or the Océan 82.
Finally, you can take advantage of the proximity with the Creole Rock to drop anchor there for the day and enjoy an unforgettable snorkeling session. For those who want to go a little deeper, arm yourself with air bottles and a regulator in one of the Grande Case diving centers.
For our next anchorage, we head for the east coast of the island, in the wild waters bordering the famous Ilet Pinel. Long white sand beaches bathed in crystal clear waters, here is the setting for a perfect Caribbean idylle. Located south of the islet between the coast and the Petite Clef rock, the anchorage offers good protection from the northern and northeastern winds.
You will anchor with ease in the sandbanks of its shallow waters but entering the area can be tricky. Take Christine’s comment for advice on how to safely make it into the anchorage area
Christine’s comment on her sailboat Feliz (12m):
“Watch your draft! By the North access, it is necessary to round well, to have the nose on the maps and to pay attention to the stones. We were lucky to be guided by a small RIB. After the narrow entrance we stuck with our 2.1m draft, but it was all sand at this point so we managed.’’
Once safely anchored, you can enjoy the superb white sand beach and its waters teeming with life (sea turtles, rays and other species of tropical fish are often spotted on the anchorage).
Finally on land, a good restaurant and a bar for dancing will welcome you with open arms. Perfect places to end a beautiful day spent enjoying the atmosphere and the unique setting of L’Ilet Pinel!
Baie Blanche : Île de Tintamarre
We saved the best for last as so often on Navily! The Baie Blanche anchorage on the island of Tintamarre perfectly depicts the tropical dream, and no one will argue with that!
The setting is as wild as can be with only other boaters to accompany you. No beach bars or luxury hotels, the island of Tintamarre looks like a lost world in the middle of the ocean.
The long fine sandy beach and its translucent waters will not fail to amaze you at Baie Blanche. But don’t stop there, and start exploring the rest of the island as there is more to this magical place.
Captain Brown on his sailboat Blown Away gives us a hint on what to expect:
“We were lucky to find a front row mooring buoy and to have perfect weather for a week. Staying in places like this is why we bought our boat. Be sure to explore the island to see the lagoon and shipwreck on the Lee coast as well as the remains of the French airline that occupied the island from 1946 to 1950.”
It is certain that Baie Blanche is a haven for navigators who drop anchor in its welcoming waters. The only downside to this unique place is its almost non-existent wind protection. Consequently, it is preferable to leave the anchorage at nightfall, to prevent the tropical dream from turning into a nightmare… As Joseph Joubert said so well a few centuries ago:
“Instead of complaining that the rose has thorns, I congratulate myself that the thorns are topped with roses and the bush bears flowers.”
We will conclude on this note of philosophy, surprising from the Octopus… our tour of the best anchorages of Saint-Martin. To discover all stopovers in Saint-Martin visit navily.com, and benefit from our sailing community’s experience !
We hope that this article will inspire your next cruise in the Caribbean and if you also wish to share your experience on Saint-Martin, do not hesitate to share photos and comments on Navily!
Fair Wind Captains,