We just spent a week in Saint Barthélemy — also referred to as St-Barths by the French and St. Barts by Americans. It wasn’t in our plans to ever come here. Frankly, it hadn’t been on our radar. It’s known as the island playground for the rich and famous. Leonardo DiCaprio hangs out on yachts here. How could we go?
We had originally planned to spend two or three months between selling our house and the start of Clifton’s new job in Portugal. But, by the time the house had sold and our things were packed away, I had landed a new job and flights to Lisbon, Faro, and even parts of Spain had skyrocketed. I wasn’t willing to spend most of our vacation budget on just getting there and I wanted to be present in the office to get to know my new colleagues too. I also had a work conference in Orlando in late March and then again in Miami in May. So, where could we go that being in Miami meant already being halfway there? Ah, the Caribbean!
I’ve read Anguilla has some of the best beaches in the world. It’s not that far away, so we began researching stays in Anguilla, only for a terrible tragedy to occur that caused sudden racial tensions on the island. That squashed our plan immediately. I don’t want to visit an island when a murder has just occurred. We realized Saint Barthélemy was nearly equidistant from St. Martin as Anguilla was. It fit our criteria perfectly: not incredibly touristy, extremely safe, laid-back, gorgeous scenery and fantastic cuisine. Let’s go!
So, the day after my conference ended, we boarded a plane from Ft. Lauderdale and flew three hours to St. Martin. The boys are so good on planes. Since they’ve been flying all their lives, we’ve set the expectation from the get-go that we stay seated on airplanes. We pack very little “travel gear” and they don’t have iPads or anything either, so they end up napping most of the time on plane rides! The hotel I was at for work in the Miami area gave them stuffed animals at check-out. I ended up being super grateful for this because dad forgot to pack them really any toys. They entertained themselves with these, napped and snacked.
There was quite a lot of turbulence the entire flight. This didn’t disturb the boys, because they were sleeping most of the way, but apparently it upset Dorian’s stomach. He woke up from his nap and threw up on me! Not just a tiny bit, but rather all over my stomach, my dress, my seatbelt. I hurried to wipe everything down. I’ve always heard the advice to pack an extra set of clothes. This time I got lucky. I had stashed an extra outfit in my carry-on backpack simply because my roller luggage was so full. I had to go do an outfit change in the tiny airplane bathroom. That was fun.
As one of the shortest landing strips in the world, it was quite thrilling seeing the plane land just over the beach in St. Martin. We didn’t know what to expect of St. Martin but were just passing through. The hurricane seems to continue to have left a tremendous impact. From the windows of our taxi, we were firsthand witnesses to what a tragic level of destruction still remains so visible. The island seems to be rebuilding as much as they can, but boats were still tossed to shore and entire buildings still collapsed. I hope to see this place restored to what I’m sure it once was.
There are only two ways to reach St-Barths from St. Martin: private plane or ferry. A little weary of taking a small plane over open ocean with two little kids, we booked first-class tickets on the Voyager Marigot instead.
It claims to be a high-speed, fast and friendly ferry to St-Barths. It was indeed high-speed, but it was also a solid hour ride to reach the island. We had a private cabin which kept us out of the sun, but the boat gave us major sea legs and I was craving fresh air. Between waiting at the airport, riding in a taxi, then waiting some more at the ferry dock, we had been traveling almost all day at this point. We were happy when we docked in Gustavia at St-Barths. The moment stepped foot off the ferry, we knew this was it!
We took a 4 minute taxi ride to St. Jean, where we had booked a charming villa on a quiet stretch of beach…