After two and a half years of cruising to primarily small towns and communities in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Caribbean you would think we’d be accustomed to them and possibly comfortable with the idea of living in a smaller town when this adventure comes to an end, right?
WRONG! As much as we have enjoyed the experience and the peaceful solitude of remote anchorages, we still prefer the conveniences and distractions of city life. I mean really. After living in Toronto, Sydney, Miami and Los Angeles can you actually picture us living in Nowhereville?
OK, OK it’s probably not that bad and one day we may want to move to a quiet little tropical paradise. But, at this point in our life, we still need live music, restaurants, bars, gourmet grocery stores (for Audrey) and, of course, marinas, chandleries, regattas and all things boating.
Wait a tick? We just spent 6 weeks in a tropical, Caribbean island that has all of those things and more. It’s quite amazing but Sint Maarten/St. Martin, the little island that is shared by the Netherlands and France, had everything on our hit list and more.
It not only met our requirements for boating stuff, it also had a few awesome grocery stores that stocked almost everything Chef Audrey had on her shopping list.
Plus, if there was something specific we needed that was not in stock, we are quite certain that one of the many Yacht Provision companies that cater to the numerous mega-yachts based there would have been more than happy to expedite anything our heart desired — for a hefty price. We didn’t take advantage of this particular service but if we ever needed some Prince Edward Island mussels or Argentinian steaks, we knew how to get them.
To top it off, they have live music venues all over the island and a number of concerts and music festivals throughout the year. However, as far as we sailors are concerned, the biggest and best live music on the island is during the famous Hieneken Regatta. Yes, its primary purpose is sailboat racing around the island but over the years it has become a major tourist attraction drawing sailors and non-sailors alike.
As you can see, the yachts, crews and parties are a “fun for all” but the biggest draw are the over-the-top parties that this little regatta, with major funding from Hieneken and a few other sponsors, have been able to host.
They are held every night of the 5-day regatta, are attended by thousands of revelers, and include performances by top local musicians and performers from around the world — all for that magic word FREE. Previous headliners include the Black Eyed Peas and Ziggy Marley among others and this year we jammed to Rock City (who have a hit song with Adam Levine of Maroon 5) and grammy-award winning R&B/Hip-Hop perfromer Akon.
The Heineken Regatta was definitely one of the highlights of this adventure and if you ever get a chance to attend or, even better participate, you should jump at it. But, if you’re not interested in regattas, loud music and/or rowdy bars, Sint Maarten/St. Martin also has beautiful beaches, quaint hotels, and quiet anchorages, and is within a day sail (or short ferry ride) of both St. Barths and Anguilla.
And, if you really want something different, Sint Maarten also has one of the only beaches in the world that is virtually on the runway of a major airport. It’s a little scary but for “aero-nuts” from around the world it’s heaven on earth.
All in all, Sint Maarten/St. Martin had almost everything we could ask for in a Caribbean escape and, if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re going to need good jobs soon to pay for this adventure, we could actually live there.
Maybe one day we will live there. In the meantime, we’ll always remember the sensory overload of yachts, planes, casinos, food, beaches (even nude ones), parties and people, including our friends Sharon and Graeme who joined us from Toronto for the Hieneken Regatta and a little early celebration of Audrey’s upcoming birthday.
Watch for more on the “Month of Audrey” in our next post…