A Travellerspoint blog

St Maarten


View Sint Maarten September 2022 on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 x 4
8F all flights

Blue Bubbles ATV Tour, which I didn't get to do
AirBnb Fig Paradis Penthouse

3 Days Before Departure

I booked the tickets in March, so for 6 months I had been planning and dreaming of this trip. I knew I was going during the middle of hurricane season in September, but the tickets were cheap ($245 rt from BNA) and decided to take my chances.

Three days before I was to leave, a tropical storm formed, then it had a name: Fiona. The forecast was for Fiona to hit Sint Maarten on Friday night, September 16th, the day I was to arrive. I asked myself “Do I stay or do I go?” My tickets were non refundable, it was only a tropical storm with max winds of 60mph, the Airbnb host said I would be fine. So I decided to go.

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Day 1

I travel with just a small, ugly, mustard yellow backpack, no carry on or checked luggage as I hate waiting for luggage to arrive. I have TSA PreCheck so I breezed through security and made my way to the gate. My flight was to leave at 558am CST, and arrive in Miami at 907 am EST. I had little over an hour layover in Miami, which gave me time to pee and get to my next gate. All the while, I was getting messages from American Airlines saying I can change my travel plans. Of course at this point, I’m not going to change my plans.

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The flight from BNA to MIA was uneventful, I was seated in 8F, right behind business class. I picked the window seat, it was a packed plane and the seating was uncomfortable with 3 to a row. In Miami, I made my way to the next gate, the flight ended up being a halfway empty plane and no one sat in my row. Midflight they handed out immigration cards (note to self: bring a pen because airlines don’t seem to offer them anymore, at least AA and JetBlue), borrowed a pen from someone across the aisle. Saw stunning views of various islands, I’m guessing it was Bahamas and Turks and Cacaos, (where I’m going in December 2022).

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We landed, and they had a twisty ramp to walk down onto the pavement where you then boarded a bus for a quick 10 second trip to immigration. We got off the bus and the first stop was to show your boarding pass, then the next stop was to show them your QR code from the Electronic Health Authorization System, after that I went to immigration where they asked me the address of where I was staying, and that was it. I was in Sint Maarten! Turns out that my plane was the last to arrive before they closed the airport due to TS Fiona.

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I left the tiny airport and found the Avis shuttle waiting spot, it was sunny and humid and I realized that I forgotten my sunglasses so I couldn’t see anything. (Mental note: have sunglasses just for traveling and leave them in my backpack). After a good 20 minutes in island time, the driver showed up and took me to Avis, which was maybe 5 minutes away, if that. I signed all my stuff, got a map, and picked up my car, a SsangYong Tivoli 4×4. The rental was a complete waste of money because due to Tropical Storm Fiona, I didn’t drive anywhere except to my Airbnb and back to Avis, and my Airbnb was only about a mile from the rental car place.

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On the way to my Airbnb, I got to drive on the famous road between the airport and the beach, where planes land just feet over your head. Only my plane was the last plane in before they shut the airport down so I never got to see the planes. You can watch a live feed from the Sunset Beach Bar.

I stopped at Maho Market, picked up some wine, veggies, soy milk and a few other things and then headed to my Airbnb. It had a gated driveway, I rang the buzzer, the hosts let me in. They took me up the “winding stairs of death” as I called it, and right as I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I reached the top and saw the most beautiful view ever. By now the wind was picking up, so they showed me around the beautiful penthouse, but most important, how to close the electric hurricane shutters.

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I managed to spend an hour or so in the hot tub before the wind and rain started. The wind really picked up, so it was time to get out of the tub. And it was a struggle to get the cover back on. Once inside, I closed the hurricane shutters, poured a glass of wine, fixed a salad, and settled in for the night. I wasn’t worried about the building as it was reinforced concrete, roof and all. Plus the Airbnb hosts were just below me. The wind and rain really kicked in around 9pm. I went to bed and slept really, really good.

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Day 2

Noise woke me up around 2am, and I discovered a lot of water coming in from the main sliding glass doors. The hurricane shutters were fine, but the wind was pushing water in any cracks or edges, was getting in the door track, then into the Airbnb. I placed towels around to soak up the water, and went back to sleep. I woke back up at 5am and found more water coming in around the floor by the stove, and the sliding doors to the outside shower. I added more towels, fixed some coffee, and spent a few hours on my phone listening to the wind and rain beat against the house. At 2pm the wind and rain started to die down a bit, so I took the opportunity for a shower. It was my first time using an outdoor shower, it was a bit chilly with the wind and no sun, but I still enjoyed it and wish I lived in a climate where I could have one.
The Airbnb hosts arrived with a mop and bucket to clean up the water, also to sweep up the mirror that broke in the outside shower. That was really the only damage that happened during the storm. They dropped off more towels, made sure I was ok, and left. It was still too windy to get back in the hot tub, so I grabbed my Kindle and a glass of wine, and just relaxed the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t go out because there was a lot of flooding around the island, and I’m not familiar with the roads, so it was better to stay put. I still couldn’t open the front hurricane shutters because of the wind, but I did open the side ones so I got to see outside.

That evening the Airbnb hosts invited me to dinner, which I gladly accepted. They are both private chefs, and I enjoyed lobster and Indian dishes, champagne and wine with them. I had a wonderful night of food, wine, and conversation. One of the hosts is from Trinidad and the other from France. They had engaging stories and it turned out they were the highlight of my trip. They sent me back with left overs which I ate the next day. I went to bed and had another great nights sleep.

Day 3

Woke up at 5am, fixed coffee, ate some left overs and checked the weather on my phone. The winds were supposed to die down in a few hours, so I would finally be able to open the front shutters and get in the hot tub. It was still cloudy and breezy, and unfortunately my last day on the island. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to do anything I wanted, but I knew the risks when I booked a ticket for September. I had planned to take an ATV tour around the island, and then enjoy the rest of the time in the hot tub, read a book, drink a bit of wine and just relax. But experiencing a tropical storm has never happened to me before, so I really didn’t mind the change in plans.

The winds died down enough for me to safely take off the hot tub cover, so I spent the rest of the afternoon until evening in the hot tub, drinking wine and admiring the beautiful view. Later that evening I reluctantly packed up my things, cleaned up the Airbnb, and had another great nights sleep.

Day 4

Woke up at 5am, fixed coffee, looked outside and of course the sun was out for the first and only time during my trip. The water was calm, it was warm, no breeze. The weather I wish I had. I put my stuff in the car, said good bye, and drove on the flooded streets to drop off my car at Avis, which was only a few minutes away. The shuttle brought me to the tiny airport, was the only person in line through customs, got some coffee, and sat at the gate watching the planes arriving and departing.

American’s are so damn loud. Stop being LOUD!!!

The flight to MIA was uneventful, met a couple on the plane who were also going to BNA so we chatted a bit on the plane and during our 4 hour layover in MIA. Got home a little after midnight, and that was the end of my trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 15:30 Archived in Saint Martin

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