St. Maarten Travel Guide (St. Martin) Best Places To Visit!

I had so much fun in St. Maarten with my parents and old friend Jenna. Even though I’m still sun burned at this moment (anyone know where I can find an aloe plant?) it was totally worth it. The island has the perfect mixture of Caribbean culture while being a developed country. It felt very safe to drive around everywhere and very little poverty. Being of Haitian decent was a nice perk as there were so many Haitians on the island you could get by just speaking creole! It also helps that I can understand French. But everyone on the island speaks English so if you’re not bi-lingual you’ll be just fine.

Check out some tips and my Travel Guide after the photos!

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Wearing: Missguided top, YMI shorts

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Wearing: Missguided Swimsuit

 

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Wearing: Missguided top, Windsor pants

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Wearing: Triangl Swimsuit

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Wearing: Lulus.com dressProcessed with VSCO with a9 preset

Wearing: Missguided swimsuit 

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Wearing: Lulus.com dressIMG_8379 Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

Wearing: Toby Heart Ginger two piece

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Wearing: AMI clubwear swimsuit

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Wearing: Akira dressProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Wearing: Missguided Cover Up

 

Some TIPS…

Here’s a little guide I learned from trial (and some error) on my trip!

If you want your tripped planned out like mine was including tours, snorkeling, and a whole lot of fun! I highly recommend reaching out to Ami from Caribbean Concierge Services. She and her team did a fabulous job coordinating activities for us!! (gm@artemia-sxm.com ) Our trip would not have been the same without them!

We stayed at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa in St Maarten and it was gorgeous. It’s right on the beach with cabanas you can reserve. It has a pool bar and hot tub, casino, two restaurants and a spa where me and my mom got the best hot stone massages. Also the staff was very friendly and helpful which is nice to have when you are in a new country. We had a gorgeous pool view from our balcony, not to mention a beautiful and spacious 2 bedroom 2 bathroom suite including a living rooming, dining room, and kitchen area. It was absolutely perfect!

Since you’re already there you might as well visit Anguilla and St. Barts because they are only short ferry rides away so you can go there just for the day!

Rent a car. It’s much cheaper and taxis are expensive. Unless you don’t plan on exploring (which you would be silly not to).
Be careful when driving. Roads are mostly paved but can get rocky in some areas. We def got a flat tire when someone’s car key went straight into our wheel! I recommend renting a small JEEP.
Also you may find cows just in the middle of the road as we did and there are no stop signs or lights and a TON of rotaries so you have to drive cautiously and defensively.
Delicious foods/drinks to try:
Guava berry
 It’s a liquor and definitely something that St. Maarten is known for so definitely a must try.
Sea grapes
Our tour guide picked these for us by the ocean, they are a very interesting fruit I never tried before and had an interesting salty yet sweet flavor.
Johnny Cake
This fried bread is a MUST
Places to Visit…
Island Tour
The first thing you must do once you touch down is get an island tour. We toured with William and he was great. He showed us all the little parts of the French side and Dutch side that we would have totally missed out on had we chose to tour by ourselves. The island is easy to tour in a day as it is only about 35 square miles. That way you can bookmark all the places you want to go back to visit on your own in a non-tour setting.
Catamaran
A bunch of tours leave from Dock Maarten Marina and they are a must! You get to see the island from a water’s view and the tours include snorkeling, bottomless drinks, swimming in the middle of the Caribbean ocean while jamming to great music. We met new friends on our trip and swam on some of the most gorgeous beaches.  We definitely got sick towards the very end because 8 hours on a boat is a lot for me and I suffer from bad motion sickness. The waves were very bad the day we went so I recommend bringing  some sort of sea sickness medication if you get motion sickness like me. This tour will give you an oceans view of the island and views you would never be able to see unless you are in the water.
Ami from Caribbean Concierge Services can plan both the tour and Catamaran for your trip! (gm@artemia-sxm.com )
This place is really cool. It’s an old plantation turned reserve where you can have an afternoon of drinks food and pool time. The pool is gorgeous with waterfalls and jungle like views. It’s 25 per person or you can rent a Cabana in the trees for $200 with up to 10 people which is a great deal if you’re traveling with a lot of people. There is also zip lining which looked like so much fun even though we didn’t try it! lol
 FOOD:
 If you want to know good food spots on the Island that aren’t so touristy, ask the locals. I’m Caribbean and we were looking for authentic Caribbean food and not the touristy food. We did have a delicious dinner at Canoa Restaurant which is touristy but I highly recommend it.
This is where you can watch the planes fly right over head into the airport. It best to just spend the day and lounge out have food at the bar and enjoy the planes. But be careful where you stand on the beach because you can get blasted by the jets on the plane. The day before we went a local was telling us about a man who got knocked out and thrown into the ocean. He goes into much more graphic detail but I’ll spare you. So please be careful and listen to the signs!
Maho Bay
Also apparently people like to PARTY in St. Maarten. We headed to Tantra on Wednesday night with some new friends we made on the island (ladies night- free drinks all night) and it was so much fun! It was LIT as the kids would say.  There are plenty of other clubs in Maho Bay as it’s one of the main spots for night life and clubs are open until 4am so you don’t have to be grannies like us and get to the club at 10:30 lol.
 
Grand Case
The only place we were able to find ice cream! Seriously it’s like a delicacy or something cause it wasn’t everywhere! Grand Case is an old fishing village that has a strip of yummy restaurants and yes…ice cream.
Philipsburg (The Dutch Capital)
Philipsburg reminded me a little of Canal St in NY. Stores on top of stores on top of stores with street vendors in between. Definitely a cool spot to park and just walk around and do some shopping and eating.
AND ANOTHER THING…
We traveled to the island during off season in August and I’m told their high season is around our late Fall/Winter time. Cons of going in off season: The heat is unbearable. Pros: The island is so much more easier to navigate. During high season many cruise ships dock in St. Maarten so the population literally quadruples in a day. At times when we were there the traffic and navigating was really bad so I honestly can’t imagine how it is when there are 4 times as many people!
The only Pro I see from going in high season is that everything stays open. Because we were off season we missed out on a few restaurants we wanted to try because the owners were on holiday.
If you’re planning a trip to St. Martin hopefully this helps. I honesty can see this island becoming a reoccurring vacation for my family and I. We loved it!

Lulus In St. Maarten

20160817_6347 20160817_6377 20160817_6383 20160817_6387 20160817_6465 20160817_6490 20160817_6498Lulus.com is my go to when I travel. Their pieces always get me through in comfort. If there’s one thing I hate being when I’m traveling is uncomfortable! I even boycotted heels and decided to wear these sandals I got from them a little while ago.

St Maarten is GORGEOUS. We have had so many adventures here and I am truly going to miss this place. Sometimes I want to leave all our first world problems behind and just jet off to an island permanently. It just seems so much more easy going here and less stress.

The sea and I have become one considering all the ocean water I’ve swallowed! We basically lived in the water and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I wore these outfits to explore around the island a couple days and everyone kept asking me where I got my dress. It fit perfectly and I will definitely be re-wearing it off the island!

Look 1: Wearing Lulus.com dress

Look 2: Wearing: Lulus.com bra top and skirt, Lulus.com sandals

Two Sides of The Desert Video

You already got the long form of our 5 day desert experience here and here but I wanted to share some video of our trip! Also this reminds me I need to renew my passport so I can plan my next vacay! Guess where?

A big thank you to Hyatt Palm Springs and Hyatt Indian Wells for hosting us. It was an amazing trip!

Two Sides of The Desert: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

The second part of our trip was at Hyatt Regency Indians Wells Resort & Spa. This was more of a relaxing part of the trip which included spas, pool time, and of course more delicious food!

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Day 4

I got home at 4am after going to Melissa’s wedding on Friday so when I woke up Saturday morning the first thing I wanted was FOOD. But I woke up late of course and had to meet everyone for a tour of the resort. So I scarfed down a delicious room serviced b-fast and ran out the door with my strawberry banana shake in hand. I met them just in time as they were heading up the elevator! *phew We walked around and got a full tour of property which included the spa, gym, 7 pools, gorgeous terrace and restaurant with fire pits. The view from clubhouse was gorgeous too!

We even got to see some of the other room options they offer including two bedroom suites that have their own hot tub on a private patio outside and it comes with a butler!

Now about my room….it was a suite with an area designated as the “living room” with a patio that had an amazing view overlooking the golf course and mountains. The bathroom had a bath and a shower and the TV in the room had to at least be a 65 inches. It really felt like a mini home away from home.

After the tour, I chilled by the pool in our own private cabana that had a TV in it. I honestly felt a little spoiled…in a good way. This was the relaxing part of the trip that I so needed. Pool time was pleasantly interrupted by spa time where I got an 80 minute massage at the spa on site. At first I was second guessing an 80 minute massage, it seemed kind of long, but once I laid on that table it flew by. I haven’t had massage in YEARS so this was much needed. They even have a little spa retreat you can hang out in afterwards to continue the relaxation.

But I chose to go back to the pool!

Later we met up with every one for the Lantana Tasting Reception at the Verbena Terrace, The Terrace is just absolutely stunning and the food…Well you know where I’m going with that. The food was ridiculous and after talking to Chef Chris Mitchum, I could see why. They only use the finest ingredients and keep it as local as possible….I seriously would go back their just for the food. No seriously.

After I ate the entire menu we headed off to a tour of the Tennis Gardens where they were hosting the Desert Jazz Festival .Brian Culbertson and Mindi Abair And The Boneshakers were talent lineup. It was a nice breezy night as we listened to some amazing musicians and of course ate some more. I ate so much on this trip, I honestly did not care cause everything was so good.

Then we called it a night and just did some night walking with Nina around the resort before heading to bed.

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Day 5

This was checkout day which I was not looking forward to. I wish I had more time at the second resort because it was SO relaxing. But I took full advantage of the morning with a late checkout. We slept in, had breakfast out on the patio overlooking the view, and then ending the morning with a little more pool time. Driving home was a little bitter sweet. The desert is really starting to become one of my favorite local getaways.

There’s a video coming soon of our trip so stay tuned!

Two Sides of The Desert: Hyatt Palm Springs

When I got the opportunity to embark on a press trip to explore the “Two sides of the Desert,” I happily obliged. A 5 day getaway literally right when I decided to quit my full time job could not have come at a better time. I had my bags packed and outfits planned DAYSSS ahead of time. (so thirsty! lol)

Now I had been to Palm Springs many times before for many different occasions but I have to say, I have never seen, eaten, and experienced as much in all those trips as I did in this one. I feel like I can write a pretty decent travel guide to Palm Springs now…and I guess that’s what I’m kinda doing right…. now. (duh!)

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Day 1

So day 1 we arrived in the desert to Hyatt Palm Springs. LA was SUPER gloomy that week adding more fuel to my butt to get out for a few days. Per usual, the weather in Palm Springs did not disappoint, it was beautifully sunny and HOT but not too hot. I’ve been there in August before and that is honestly a little unbearable, you don’t even want to go out until the sun sets. I think May is a great time to visit because the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Warm enough for the pool but not too hot that you don’t want to stay outside a while….now back to Day 1.

We were greeted by the lovely staff when we arrived and concierge graciously helped with our bags. I even got to bring Nina along (my little pooch). All Hyatts are dog friendly so this was an EXTRA bonus because boarding little Nina would have been a bit pricey (Why is boarding so pricey anyway? geez people!). Once we got settled we took a little tour of the place. I have been to this Hyatt before but it was nice to reintroduce myself and Danny had never been so I showed him around a little.

I snuck in a little pool time before we had to meet the rest of the gang at Hoodoo, one of the two hotel restaurants and bars. The bartender made me their specialty Moscow Mule which is my favorite drink ever but this one had some sort of orange liquor in it and it was SOOOOO good guys. When they said orange I was like “meh” but one sip and now I feel like I need to call them to ask exactly what crack was in that drink! I actually feel like I need one right about now, this second please sir can I have more? After meeting some of the staff at Hyatt and having light bites and drinks, we headed over to Seymour’s. How can I explain Seymours?(insert thinking emoji) aside from the cool mixology drinks, the dim lit atmosphere of the building that is over 10 years old, the stain glass windows, beaded handmade furniture, and original caricatures on the walls from the late and great days, I would have to say the coolest thing about Seymour’s is that it was literally open only 1.5 hours before we arrived. We basically were their very first customers ever so if you’ve been in Palm Springs before May I guarantee you’ve never been there and I highly recommend you go immediately.

Seymour’s is location in the entrance of the steakhouse, Mr. Lyons which is also a place I had never been before and honestly I wasn’t as excited for a steakhouse as Danny was when we go there but I after I ate I became a SERIOUS believer. I didn’t know Palm Springs had food this good and the passion of the employees and owner really shone through the food. I mean slap your mamma good! I had the surf and turf with the brussels sprouts, corn, and mash potato sides. The sides are literally just as good as the entrees and their seafood is amazing too if you are not a red meat eater. As if dinner wasn’t enough, we got the creme brûlée and beignets for dessert which literally topped of the night with a bang. OMG that food was so good I’m getting mad writing about it right now because I want some in my mouth… now.

After a day of traveling it was the perfect way to end the night.

 

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Day 2

On the second day we had a jam packed schedule. We started off with room service– the cool thing about Hyatt Palm Springs room service is that you can leave your order on a menu they leave in your room that you hang outside your door. As long as it’s out there before 1 am, you just put on the menu what you want and what time you want them to come and voila, breakfast is served! I’m such a procrastinator in the morning, I wake up and sit on my phone for like an hour before I get up or decide to join civilization so this was perfect for me as it eliminated the burden burden of remembering to call room service in enough time in the morning, I hate rushing. Even though I do it…often.

The first thing we did after breakfast was go on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: a 10-minute ride at the 2,643 ft. Valley Station and rise to the Mountain Station at 8,516 ft. There are over 50 miles of hiking trails and is usually 30-40 degrees cooler at the top. This was yet another thing I had no idea existed in Palm Springs. Now, I have been on a tram before up Whitsler Mountain in Vancouver which was about the same elevation and really scary because it was just two of us with our legs swinging above the mountains. I assure you the Palm Springs one is less scary and actually there are only two of it’s kind in the country. Not only does the tram raise you up the mountain but it actually spins slowly (kinda) the whole way up giving you a true 360 view. It’s crazy how it was so hot on the ground but elevated in the mountains it was way cooler. I definitely needed a jacket, which I brought, because I come prepared people!

After the tram ride we had more ridiculously good looking food (queue Zoolander) and good tasting! We had lunch at EIGHT4NINE back in downtown Palm Springs and at this point my food baby was REAL. I had worked out before the trip to be pool ready but that totally went out the window, it was too good to resist. I had the sourdough crusted sea bass which was excellento and I also dabbled in the appetizers which included chips and fresh made guac, asparagus, calamari, and much moreeeee.

I definitely needed to walk it off after that and good thing the hotel was only about a 10 minute walk. I love how walkable downtown Palm Springs is and how the Hyatt is right tin the center of it all. You literally have no reason to drive once you valet you car. You can walk most places and anything a little further out is a cheap Uber away.

After walking off the food baby and hanging out with Nina for a little bit, we went to a little happy hour at Las Casuelas Terraza, which was also walking distance from the hotel.  If you want that hearty Mexican food, this is the place to go but I can recommend them more for their very LARGE margaritas in many different flavors. It was Cinco de Mayo after all so this was the perfect place to celebrate (Although I don’t know what everyone’s celebrating cause we do not do this holiday back where I’m from *shrugs*). I was still stuffed from lunch so I just had some ceviche and chips and guac. (and also maybe a bite or two of the quesadillas)

By the time we left the restaurant the Village Fest had begun which is a free outdoor street festival in the heart of downtown Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive, and right in front of Hyatt Palm Springs. You can browse more than 200 booths offering beautiful art, handcrafted items, and unique food.  During Village Fest, Palm Springs Art Museum and the Architecture and Design Center are open for free until 8pm. And this happens every Thursday. I didn’t end up buying anything because the food coma ensued but I assure you they have really cool vendors there and live music! (And dogs with sunglasses—you’ll see in my video to follow)

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Day 3

I had to cut Day 3 a little short because I had to drive back to LA for Melissa’s wedding. (3 hours in the rain! But that’s another story!) We had another room service morning, packed all our stuff up, checked out and met up with everyone for lunch at Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill. Now if you want a little bit more authentic Mexican food, THIS is the place to go. I am obsessed with crunchy taco shells and theirs were homemade to perfection. They also make the guac right at the table but we missed the making of it cause we were a little late! Ugh I’m so hungry now writing about all of this food. Also why do margaritas go so well with Mexican food, I just had to have one considering there were pitchers of it all over the table. It was the prefect addition to the feast.

Lunch was cut short as we rushed to our second destination, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa which is “the other side of the desert.” Palm Springs was the hustle and bustle and event heavy trip while Indian Wells was more of a relaxing retreat thus giving us a two-sided experience. More on Indian Wells in my next post!