SXM1The end of a vacation is always a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, you hope you’ve wrung every drop of fun and relaxation out of each waking hour. On the other hand, you’re ready to get back to familiar territory: your home, your dogs, your bed, your stuff. Your bills. Your overgrown lawn. Your job.

Recovering from our toasting on the Tiko Tiko, we were unsure whether we wanted to spend one last day at Club O. Our uncertainty lasted perhaps 10 minutes. But first, a trip to Maho Bay and the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill. We visited the Sonesta Bay Resort. It seemed to be focused on high roller types. We are not high rollers. In fact, if there’s such a thing as a low roller, that would be us. Moving on to the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill was slightly a better fit, but only marginally. The chief attraction is the proximity to the runway at Princess Julianna Airport. Otherwise, it was a Carib and time to move on.

After we got back to the villa we headed for Pedro’s for lunch then on to Club O. We spent several happy hours under the yellow umbrellas and ran into our Tiko Tiko crewmates, Annette and Gene. We said our goodbyes and we trudged sadly back to the villa.  We returned to Grand Case for dinner, where many fine looking restaurants were open. Thanks, but we’re going to Sky’s the Limit, the sister lolo to Talk of the Town Too. Damn fine ribs and sides.  The Low Rollers score again.

We packed, paid our bill, and headed back to the airport. In an hour we had turned in our rented cell phone, our rented car, had checked our bags, and were waiting in the terminal. Try that at home.

So what did we learn from this trip?

  • Take fewer clothes and more money for meals. Food is expensive (for everyone) and if you want restaurant food, prepare to spend more than you would in the States.
  • SXM is not a shopper’s paradise, at least for us. Other than local art and some jewelry of unknown origin much of what we saw was unremarkable and in many cases overpriced. Go for the beaches.
  • Our preference is to bypass restaurants that offer meals similar to what we can get at home so we eat local. That means lolos, delis, and beach bars, which are often surprisingly good. We enjoyed the experience of being just a little closer to the real citizens of Saint Martin and we didn’t have a bad meal.
  • Almost without exception everyone we talked to, who served us, who answered our questions, or just acknowledged our presence, was friendly and gracious. I kept expecting exasperated rudeness from a tired waitress or waiter, shop owner or clerk. It never happened. I hope we were equally friendly.
  • Driving in Saint Martin is a test of alertness and patience. Narrow, crowded streets, motorbikes darting in and out of traffic, no traffic lights. Somehow everyone gets to where they want, though not quickly. At the same time, drivers are much more courteous and accommodating than most American drivers.

We met many travelers who have been to SXM year after year. We now understand why and are already looking ahead to next year.