Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grand Case, St. Martin (French side)

Tuesday, December 11 – Thursday, December 13

We left Simpson Bay and decided to sail over to the French side of the island for a couple of days. We anchored in Grand Case which is a small beach town which is considered the gastronomic center of the island filled with great French restaurants and bakeries.

The first day, we snorkeled around the boat with the sea turtles that shared our particular anchor location. Later in the evening, we took the dingy to shore. We enjoyed walking up and down Grand Case Blvd, viewing the menus and specials of all of the French restaurants that line the street and perusing through each of the beach shops.  We finally agreed on a restaurant, and had an amazing dinner at Bistrot Caraibes. 

Afterward, we went to Calmos Cafe for drinks. Calmos Cafe is a fun beach bar with tables in the sand, and they have a wifi connection (really hard to come by these day!). We chatted with the owner, Alex, and his staff, and caught up on emails and news, then headed back to Kalalau for the night.

On Wednesday, we woke up and decided to take the bikes ashore and bike to a hiking trail called Pic Paradise which summits the highest peak on the island. The French side of the island is very hilly, so getting the bikes to the actual start of the trail was a challenge. Then we notice that the hike itself begins on a paved road and literally ascends straight up to the top, no switch backs or level areas. Most people take a taxi up to the furthest point a car can ride and hike the rest from there. 

By the time we got to the true hiking trail which breaks off from the paved road and goes up through the mountain, we had already had a pretty tough hike! We got to the top of the mountain shortly thereafter, (only about ½ a mile from the paved road), and spent some time at the top checking out each of the view points overlooking each corner of the island.

And finally...all downhill!

On our last day in Grand Case, we woke up and went to shore for some pain au chocolat at one of the cafes / bakeries that line the street. We did some souvenir shopping along the boulevard later that afternoon and then headed back to the boat. We decided we were ready to depart St. Martin and head to Anguilla. Before heading north across the channel to the island of Anguilla, we stopped at Roche Creole to do a dive off the boat. Roche Creole is supposedly one of the top dive spots in St. Martin. We dove to about 40 feet, but since the winds had been so strong over the past couple of days, the visibility was really poor, so we didn't spend much time underwater. So we got out, cleaned off our gear, and headed over to Anguilla where we were looking forward to exploring a new island we had never been to.

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