Should you visit St Martin island after Hurricane Irma?
5 fun things to do after the hurricane recovery on our turquoise jewel of a tropical Paradise.
What is it like to visit St. Martin Today, one and a half years after Hurricane Irma
About Irma the details
Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the wicked category 5 sister storms, hit most of the Caribbean islands within one week of each other. Irma on Sept 6 and Maria on /sept 20. Irma devastated the island of St. Martin. The sea rose 15 feet, inundating all beaches, ripping apart the coral reefs, tearing through all beach front properties and creating a human disaster of drownings. She hit the island dead on with frightening sustained winds of 220 miles per hour. Maria tore through the island a week later dumping torrential rains on the open roofs and compromised island homes and businesses.
The force of the storm tore down high rises, took out all communication and power creating a state of emergency. She shuttered store fronts and blew out windows. Seventy % of the roofs lay littering the streets while widespread looting made it feel like an end of the world scenario from a Spielberg movie. Every thing green on the entire island was stripped bare to the bone. Debris blocking all the road ways created an Armageddon like scenario. It looked and felt like a war zone, the entire island blacked out for a month, curfews enforced. One week after the storms, the Dutch war ships arrived from Holland loaded with armed guards. Sint Maarten (as the Dutch call the island ) is a protectorate of the Netherlands.
How we came to St.Martin
We were living on the US virgin island of St. Croix in September of 2017. My man, Lawson and I were just getting ready for a long awaited trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. In August I got a premonition that we were going to be hit by a hurricane and scrambled to take out an insurance policy and pack up my most favorite possessions. I shipped 11 boxes of my treasured belongings to California.
As we always watch the hurricane weather advisories during hurricane season (June through Nov.) we saw Irma building strength. She was boiling off the West coast of Africa growing in intensity and speed. We decided to change our tickets and leave a few days early. Every hour we waited, the ticket prices rose $100. We booked a flight to leave two days earlier than our original flight. Within hours there were no more tickets available to get off the island; full scale panic was afoot!
We were snuggled in, cozy in Kona, Hawaii, watching the spinning hurricane models on our phones. Irma missed St. Croix, but took out St Thomas, St. John and St. Martin. My partner manages a chain of box stores, and the ones on St. Thomas and St Martin were devastated. They called him back to the Caribbean islands to help asses damages. He left me in Hawaii and headed back. It turned out he skirted into the island between storms, just in time for the big wind. Maria hit our island, severely damaging our condo in St. Croix. She tore down every telephone and power pole on the island leaving the island crippled without communication or power for 3 months. I went back to California to wait and worry until the island was livable and safe again. The power n did not return for 3 months, neither did I
When I returned, Lawson had been offered a promotion to relocate to St.Martin and head up the recovery effort of the store there. We packed up and moved to St. Martin
The Hurricane Recovery
When we arrived we found a devastated collection of blown out buildings, and a brown landscape. Coconut palms with no fronds, landscapes with no foliage. The people shell shocked, but gathering their resources to rebuild and get back to a normal life.
Today a year and a half later it is amazing what the tenacity of the human spirit can rise above. Most of the island is back to normal. More restaurants and stores open every day; rebuilt and fresh, even more exotic and beautiful than ever before. New lounges line the white sand shores along the miles of beaches bedecked with a rainbow of fresh beach umbrellas. New luxury tourist excursion boats are navigating guests to a wide variety of exhilarating experiences. Most of the big hotels are either open or in the final stages of repair.The exotic colorful bougainvillea filled tropical landscapes are glowing with colorful blooms. The full luxuriousness of the green gardens is in full swing.
Gimme 5 cool things to do
Tropical beaches and a quaint town to visit after the hurricanes.
1. Enjoy Your Beach Bar Cocktails
at either of the Sunset beach bars while you wait to watch the planes land. They come in so close to your head at the beach next to the landing strip it feels like they will land right on top of you. The Princess Juliana international airport is reopened and fully functioning.
2. Vsit Marigot French St. Martin
Visit the historic Fort Louis, with commanding views of the harbor ,the catch the ferry neighboring islands, St. Barths, Anguilla, or a day trip to Pinel island for lunch.
Shop at the tourist kiosks, wander through the quaint French boutiques. The French side of the island has been slower to recover, but now the shopping street and mall are well stocked with gorgeous French and Italian silks for your European shopping experience.
3 Visit Orient Bay World Class French Dining
One of the longest white sand beaches in the Caribbean
All the restaurants that were blown away during the hurricanes have been rebuilt better than ever. Beautiful outdoor venues with gourmet french dining. The food on St.Martin is world class.
4 Take It All Off! Nude Beaches.
Sunbathing in the buff at Orient Bay
Experience a French nude beach at the far end of Orient Bay. You can work on your tan; sans tan lines!
5 Visit Guana Bay Beach, a Tropical Beach Almost to Yourself
A short drive down the coast from Orient Bay is this easy access Iconic tropical beach. Here you will enjoy w palm trees with shade, a quiet, shallow lagoon for swimming. He it is easy to park right next to your relaxing spot as you throw down your beach towel. No services but a beautiful beach with minimal tourists.
Enjoy St.Martin's beautiful tropical wonders. As their rebuilding continues your tourist dollars help return the island to its full glory!