Guadeloupe Travel Guide
St Martin Field Trip / Caribbean Travel / French Caribbean / Princess Juliana Airport / St. Maarten Travel / → All Tags
St. Martin has typically been considered the brief stopover island for fabulous jetsetters who then fly onward to St. Barth's. That is until our writer Shira Levine discovered that the bipolar island with a French and Dutch identity crisis is worth lingering on for a few days. Questions or suggestions? Let us know.
“Go out on the Dutch side, sleep on the French side,” is local St. Martiner and St. Maartiner Kate Richardson’s motto. (Her family heritage hails from both French and Dutch sides, although she relates considerably more with the French side.) Half a day on the island and you'll figure out whether you're more into St. Martin (the French side) or St. Maarten (the Dutch side) because folk definitely have their allegiances.
Despite the playful and, more-for-tourists turf wars, visitors don’t need a passport between the two sides of the 37-square mile island. Both sides do have their own government, but there's no real border and definitely no checkpoint or fence. Instead, there's just a “Welcome to the French Side” or “Welcome to St. Maarten." (That said, we aren't sure how any extradition laws work in these parts.)
Good news for Yanks--American dollars are accepted everywhere. The French also accept euros, and the Dutch are all retro with accepting the old school gilder. (Perhaps some "forgotten" change from those coffeehouse chillouts in Amsterdam?)
Apparently the D-Jeet didn't listen to our warnings about one of the World's Most Dangerous Airports, that of the Caribbean island St. Barths, since he and girlfriend Minka Kelly are busy celebrating the Yankees' World Series win with a little swimming on the island beloved by the rich and famous.
According to the NY Post, Derek Jeter and Kelly were spotted arriving to Saint Barthélemy over the weekend, and then they promptly holed up in a beach house, so now news on what exclusive hotel. We wonder how white Jeter's knuckles got during the heart-stopping landing, one that takes the plane almost right onto the beach before you've even got your swimsuit on.
Truthfully though, we much prefer St. Barths over New York nightclub 1OAK for a World Series celebration; maybe next time Jeter will invite us along so that we can comfort him during the scary final approach.
· Jeter Having A Beach Ball [NY Post]
· Derek Jeter Lays One Down in St. Barths [TMZ]
· The Yankees Just Won The World Series, And This Is Where They Went [Jaunted]
· Celeb Travel stories [Jaunted]
[Photo: Fame Pictures/NY Post]
The French island of Saint Barthélemy in the Caribbean might be the winter playground of the rich and famous, but unless you arrive via private yacht or boat charter, all the gobs of money in the world can't save you from enduring the white-knuckled landing on the short airstrip at St. Barth's Gustaf III/St. Jean Airport (SBH).
The concrete runway begins at the base of slight hill, and goes for only 2,100 feet before landing right on St. Jean's beach and the harbor of the island's second largest town. Sunbathers can totally lie out right next to the sand strip at the end of the runway, this it's a hugely popular plane spotting destination for those who enjoy small, prop planes. You see, because of the itty-bitty airport and runway size, major flights must land at the neighboring island of St. Maarten, where they have a big, modern airport. From there, the Barths-bound folks either jump aboard a ferry or hop a WINAIR, Air Caraïbes, and St-Barth Commuter flight in planes usually holding twenty or less passengers.
An airplane crashes, after the jump.
These waves have been shaken, not stirred: Current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and girlfriend splashed about in St. Bart's over the weekend. They were later spotted kissing on the beach--as long as they don't try that in Dubai!
Craig does have some time off as the sequel to this fall's "Quantum of Solace" hasn't even been written yet. Internet rumor has it the next flick, the 23rd Bond picture, will be filmed at least partly in New York City, with outlaw Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) to return. Bond goes even more Bourne? Only 2009 will tell us for sure.
· Dubai Secretly Turned On By The Idea Of More Beach Liasion [Jaunted]
· Spy Travel: Bond 22 Wastes A Perfectly Good Car [Jaunted]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
Over the summer, we classified the Princess Juliana airport (SXM) on St. Maarten as one summer vacation with an edge simply because piloting big jets on the stunted runways is rather tough. And because nearby sunbathers on the beach could be exposed to a sandstorm stirred up by the planes.
But one tourist is like "whatever!" about all that because it's the best place for jet enthusiasts to get up close views of their favorite flying machines. Sue writes:
I went to St. Maarten for a week last Christmas (2006), strictly and solely to watch big jets approach and land at Princess Juliana Airport. Had a BALL. Most awesome week of my life. Can't wait to go back.
If something changes during the airport renovation so that jet enthusiasts can't get close to the landing jets, I won't go back. There are too many other places in the world I haven't visited to blow any more time on St. Maarten if jet-watching thrills are removed from the docket.
PLEASE HEAR ME, ST. MAARTEN ... DON'T CHANGE YOUR NEATEST TOURIST ATTRACTION! YOU'LL LOSE OUT ON LOTS OF TOURIST BUCKS!
Whoa, Sue means business. As for renovations, we know that the airport opened a new terminal back in 2006. But if traffic to the island of St. Maarten continues to increase a new terminal will be built as well as a full parallel taxiway system.
Summer-Vacations-With-An-Edge / Caribbean Travel / St. Maarten / Princess Juliana Airport / → All Tags
Ok, this never gets old. Yes, that's a 747 and no, there's no CGI wizardry involved. Welcome to St. Maarten, home to possibly the only beach where you can catch a wave by the good graces of both Mother Nature and Air France.
The beach in question is right outside the Princess Juliana airport (SXM) on the south side of the island. Pilots consider it a tough spot to land heavier jets as that the bare minimum length runway forces pilots to come in extremely low, about thirty feet over the heads of sunbathers on the strip of sand outside the boundary fence. The effects of arriving jets seems tolerable in the video clip but word has it that departing planes can stir up enough of a sandstorm to clear the beach or, in some cases, enough wake for surfers to catch waves heading out to sea.
Caribbean / Islands / Beaches / Hotels / → All Tags
Guadeloupe gets a lot of French tourists. If you'd rather avoid the crowds, your best bet is to go private or stay in a small hotel like Le Jardin Malanga. This small, nine-room inn is set above the beach (15 minutes from it, in fact) with a view of the coast and outlying islands of Guadeloupe. For even more seclusion, try the island of Marie-Galante, which you can reach via the L'Express des Iles ferry--it's a piece of the old Caribbean, preserved. Beware that Le Jardin, with its secluded, romantic setting, is popular with couples: you'll need to smooth over that chip on your bitter, single shoulder in advance.
The L'Express ferry will also take you Dominica, home of the Jungle Bay resort--one of the region's most buzz-worthy and unique hotels. A week in the Guadeloupe archipelago plus a visit to Dominica, with its dearth of beaches but abundance of hiking opportunities and gorgeous tropical scenery, equals the perfect taste of the Caribbean's lesser-visited destinations. Get in there before hurricane season threatens to mess with your reservations.
[Photo: Henry Phillips]
· Dominica Is the New Saba [Jaunted]
· Caribbean coverage [Jaunted]
Looks like we have identified one of the beach locations for the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition--Reserve Naturelle Barine Saint-Barthelemy. As of late last week, both Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima were being heavily photographed on that particular St. Barth's beach.
If you are in the area, be sure to hit up Le Tom Hotel for beach chairs and umbrellas, as long as you run up a nice lunch tab their they are usually accommodating. The umbrella is key, you don't want to be red as a lobster when you finally get your chance to talk with the supermodels.
For more St. Barthelemy beach pics of Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima just read more.
Looks like Gisele Bundchen is back for a second airport photo shoot, her first was in Brazil back in August.
Gisele was recently hanging out in St. Barts airport (SBH) getting ready, what looks like, a WinAir puddle jumper.
The WinAir flighst from SBH will get you to Anguilla, Nevis, Saba, Statia and St. Kitts for about $200--Giselle in a green dress not included.
And yes, you can charter WinAir flights.
YouTube / Islands / Airplanes / KLM / St. Maarten / → All Tags
Speaking of scary airports, the approach that airplanes make into St. Maarten's Princess Juliana Airport is famous. Planes as large as a 747 jet fly extremely low on approach, nearly clipping Maho Beach in the process. You may recognize the scene above from a "fake" image sent to you by a friend, but the photo and the video are 100% real. We posted a different clip a while back, but this one's even better, mostly because of the cameraman, who really adds to the effect by asking his fellow planespotters for their "last requests."
Though the airport is in the second phase of a significant renovation, news out of the island doesn't indicate that the close call arrival for jets has changed much.
Have you been to St. Maarten recently? Let us know what the approach is like nowadays (by email or in the comments).
· Run Away from These Runways [Jaunted]