It was supposed to be a girls getaway celebrating a special birthday for a friend, but when she cancelled at the last minute, I discovered that Sint Maarten is a great place for a solo gal.
I started my visit to St. Maarten with a group of other journalists. The trip was sponsored by the Dutch side of the island, also known as St Martin. We had quite an exciting four days, tasting our way around and staying at the Westin Sint Maarten.
During those first four days, we explored some of the French side, including Orient Beach, known for its nudist area; the French cafes and market in Marigot; the towns of Grand Case and Porto Cupecoy; and Loterie Farm, which offered everything from cocktails in a tree house to hiking and fine dining.
On the Dutch end, there was the 12 Meter Challenge, a yacht race for visitors to experience just like they were competing in the Heineken Regatta, shops and restaurants in Phillipsburg (where we discovered the St. Maarten dish Johnny cake, a cross between a zeppole and a biscuit). I also got to sample some of the spirits at the Guavaberry Emporium, where I left with a bottle of the Mango Rum, and had a phenomenal dinner at Rare.
When everyone else left, I settled into the Sonesta Maho Beach, on an entirely different area of Dutch Sint Maarten than I had been. I explored the property before deciding to get a little food at the Italian buffet and made it an early evening.
In the morning, I fought the urge to sit at the computer and decided to spend my day enjoying the beautiful weather (which is pretty much an everyday occurrence in St. Maarten). I had a veggie-filled egg white omelet and a croissant for breakfast and took a walk to check out the downtown.
Maho is not a big area, but there are some shops, restaurants, clubs and a casino. Back at the hotel, I had lunch at the Palm Grill overlooking the beach and then did something I very rarely do – I lay down on a lounge chair by the pool with a book! I envisioned I was a woman on vacation rather than a travel writer and took the mood one step further to Sonesta Maho’s Serenity Spa, where I had a fantastic massage.
In the evening, I dressed for dinner at The Point restaurant. I met a few other solo women at one of the Sonesta bars. After enjoying the music, conversation and wine, I took a walk across the street to the casino. I was fortunate to walk away with just a $10 loss and got some rest for my final, jam-packed day.
I had been asked by transplanted American Jeffrey “Soc” Sochrin to stop by his radio station in Simpson Bay and talk a bit about my trip. It sounded like fun and I figured I would use the time to explore that area. I enjoyed my time on Island 92 radio, which is broadcasted around the world over the internet.
From there I walked down to Zee Best bakery, which has about the best pastries and crepes outside of Paris. Canadian Dominic owns three locations and makes sure that everything is baked fresh daily. It was probably a good thing that I couldn’t stay too long, but I did manage to finish a heavenly almond cheese croissant and taste a vegetarian crepe, washing it down with a latte.
As I explored Simpson Bay, I realized there were many people here who weren’t originally from St. Maarten. The owner of my next stop was actually a restaurateur from Massachusetts and currently the owner of his namesake, Topper’s Restaurant. We talked and sampled his rums (White Chocolate Raspberry is my first choice), and some of his comfort food, such as beef brisket and Italian Meatball.
I decided to save some money on the cab and took the public bus back. It’s actually more of a van and was cheap and easy to use. I took advantage of my last few hours of sun and walked along the beach all the way down to the Sunset Grill. This hugely popular place is also where you can watch the planes land from the water, and stand right under them as they come through.
My final day in St. Maarten finished with a little time at the swim-up bar with a BBC (Bailey’s Irish Cream, banana liqueur, pina colada mix and amaretto, blended and topped with chocolate syrup and cinnamon) and a light dinner. While the trip hadn’t turned out to be the girls’ getaway I thought it would, I found another place I could easily enjoy as a solo female.
After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.