Dining at Marigot Harbour
Though Grand Case is known as one of the fine dining capitals of the Caribbean, it's a far drive if you're staying on the southern part of the island. Marigot's Marina Port La Royale, however, is easily reachable and restaurant tables line the quayside for true waterfront dining. Most restaurants here specialize in classic French dishes like escargots and the fresh catch of the day cooked meunière. We nommed a giant tuna steak at La Belle Epoque for dinner, and bit into boulder-like macaroons at Sarafina's on Marigot's Boulevard de France. A++ would eat again.
If you think the water is gorgeous from on land, just imagine what there is to see underneath the surface. Diving from St. Maarten is easy, and most of the full-service hotels on the island will be happy to arrange dives for those certified. We actually went about it ourselves, finding a great group in the Seahorse Diving Center at the Hotel Mercure on Simpson Bay. Pricing ranges from 45 Euro for a 1 tank dive to 320 Euros for a package of 10 dives.
Got a buddy who'd like to snorkel above while you're down below? That's an extra 25 Euro. One excellent dive site is that of the HMS Proselyte, a sunk 1796 Royal Navy frigate whose cannons and anchor now live in a vibrant reef.
It's no Vegas, nor is it Atlantic City, but St. Maarten's casinos still have slot machines and dealer tables ready to part you from your money. At least they'll give you a head start! Look for a Customer Service or "VIP" booth or table within the casinoslike Atlantis in Cupecoy or the Sonesta's casino in Mahoto sign up as registered player and receive a starter credit of $10-$15.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]