J’adore: St. Maarten, West Indies

Kinda cool to wake up as you sail into TWO countries’ lands–with room service breakfast on your balcony.

We arrived in St. Maarten (French), Sint Maarten (Dutch). By either name, it’s a lovely island that truly lives up to its universal nickname: The Friendly Island.

 

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The border, nearly right down the middle of the island. The story? A Frenchman and a Dutchman stood back-to-back, then walked in opposite directions along the coast. Where they met, a horizontal line was drawn to set the border. Our tour guide also explained why the French side is a good five square miles larger. The Frenchman spiked his Dutch counterpart’s hiking beverage with rum. Either way, it’s a charming little legend!

Lunch friends

Beach fun

Yes, we played in the waves, got footrubs and walked the long stretches of lovely soft sand. (No, we didn’t do “as in Rome” and participate on the nude beach side. Although as our teenage fashion-conscious daughter noticed, that would avoid tan lines. Pas tres bien, mon amie!)

 

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Family Go Pro selfie at Orient Beach.

We also shopped a bit, mom got to see some churches, and then headed back to our boat via water taxi after a gloriously friendly day.

Thanks for writing your culture on our hearts and minds, Saint Maarten. J’adore.

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Thanks for the gift, Mr. Rockefeller

Move over, Yellowstone, we have a new favorite U.S. National Park.

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Meet St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, the most tranquil, unspoiled spot in the Caribbean/South America. That’s thanks to Laurence Rockefeller, who donated much of it to the U.S. Government to create a National Park. Before that, the United States had purchased this 20-square-mile jewel from Denmark in 1917. (Note the year: it was when Germany was poised to overtake Denmark; imagine if Germany had achieved this foothold. Whew.) Before THAT, it was a haven for pirates. So what is not to adore about St. John?

Our cruise ship actually ported in St. Thomas, one of the four U.S. Virgin Islands.

Yay, our pilot is here. Oh, cool, hope Captain Jack Sparrow is here, too.

Once off the Oasis, we boarded the Island Girl with Captain Mike. It was a wild ride through once-pirate, still amazing waters, while Mike pointed out landmarks new and old with charming, entertaining stories.

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Madonna’s ‘lil spot on St. Thomas

 

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Joe and Jill Biden’s Water Island getaway.

And then, we arrived in what surely must be similar to heaven: St. John. On the short drive from the port to “our” beach for the day in our safari truck, each beach we passed was more stunning than the last.

 

Mr. Rockefeller’s home is still here, now as a resort, with remnants of a sugar plantation.

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Our destination: Trunk Bay, ranked in the World’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches by National Geographic Society. We loved every grain of sand on it, from the velvet soft beach for long walks, to the underwater snorkel trail of coral and fish in the clearest waters ever. (We brought our GoPro snorkeling, too!)

After exploring this glorious place, we headed back on the Island Girl, really refreshed the way only Mom Nature and a National Park can do so… (with a little help from a local brew of course)

We’ll be back, St. John. Stay unspoiled.

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