Saturday, February 18, 2017

Harmony of the Seas: Day 5 ~ Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

This morning we were at another island: Sint Maarten. Well, it was Sint Maarten when we got off the boat. Officially we were on the Dutch side of the island when we landed at our port in Phillipsburg. When we traveled north, to the French side, we were in Saint Martin.

For breakfast we ate at the Solarium.





From the pier, looking at Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten.





We were off the boat by 8 since we were doing an excursion today.


We took a few minutes to snap this shot, and also find the immigration office so we could get our passports stamped.



We decided to once again go off on our own, and we booked a tour through Soualiga Destinations, which got super high ratings on Trip Advisor.

One thing you should be aware of: We were far enough east to now be in the Atlantic Time Zone. Our tour company was on ATZ time but our ship stayed on Eastern Time Zone. Some ships change some don't - it is all up to the captain. He did make it clear in the morning announcements that the ship would be staying on Eastern, so all day we had to subtract an hour to make sure we would make it back to the boat in plenty of time. (And we did.)


Right outside the port.




We had been emailed directions to the dock, which was about a quarter mile walk down from the ship pier. The directions were great and we found our dock and Captain Bob.

There was a bunch of people that showed up for the tour, but we were all split into groups of about 14. We met our boat driver, Michael, and all got on the boat. Our tour was going to visit two snorkeling spots, and tour the island for 5 hours.



We drove out and had a few rain clouds (the only rain of our trip) on the way to our first destination.






This was the view on one side.






We passed lots of islands too.




This was our first stop, a private island, right off of Sint Maarten.





Actually during our ride we had passed into the French side and now it was Saint Martin. We docked, and had about 45 minutes to walk around and do what we wanted.




There was a place to get something to eat, but it was still early in the morning.




We did wade a bit in the water.



And yes, we were in France, so there was one topless family that was hanging out.




Michael had told us about a trail that went around the island. We decided to head that way. It was a nice walk and we got to see some great views. 






We heard Michael's whistle, and headed back to the boat.



This was the only photo I got of the boat. At each stop we did have to wade in to the shore, but it was totally manageable. At one place, all the guys formed an assembly line, and passed all of our dry stuff over their heads.

There was lots of water, sodas and beer on board for everyone. At one point I split a Carib beer with My Sweetie......ick. Beer is just not my thing.

Headed to the next destination.




Our next stop was a snorkeling spot, known for turtles and sting ray.




We got our gear (provided by the company) and jumped in.



We started scanning the area for turtles, but did not see one the entire time.



We did see some of this:





And these were fun to look for:






My Sweetie, who can dive deeper than me, went down and got one for me.










It was pretty deep here, but we kept diving down, and seeing if there was anything else here but fishies.








I LOVE diving down and exploring. It is the one time I think I can experience weightlessness, and I love the feeling of being able to almost fly.






We did find one of these guys.





But that was it. Except for these schools, every now and then.







This was a fun shot: My Sweetie went down with the Go Pro turned around, and I followed him down.







We headed back to the boat and continued around the island. We went by some amazing views.





We stopped at another beach, still on the French side.



This was a beautiful beach, and our lunch stop.




While we were waiting for lunch we walked out beyond the beach and saw where we were on the island.




The streets looked very quaint. I really wanted to spend more time here and explore the area.




Lunch was included in our tour and was good. My Sweetie got grilled fish and french fries.





I got grilled fish and rice.


It had a great flavor, but we both got into the middle of our tuna and found it to be still a little raw. But it was still pretty good.


We had time to walk on the beach.





We walked up the beach for a while. It was very un-crowded and quiet.





This was one of the prettiest beaches we had been to.




Do we really have to get back on the boat?




Our next snorkeling spot was just a 5 minute ride across the small bay. This very small island marked the snorkeling spot.






When we first jumped in we saw this:







But Michael had said to swim up to the island and there was a rock of coral very near there. After swimming for a bit we saw this gem:






Diving down to check it out.





We had been warned that there were sea urchins. Beautiful, but not to be touched.




Hugging the coral was all sorts of life.






My Sweetie would dive all the way down and see schools of fish, sheltering by the coral.






Again, I love diving down as far as I can go. The day before, in St. Thomas, I had trouble with pressurizing my ears. Today I was not having any problems and was able to dive down 10-15 feet.





The view when we would come up.






Beautiful coral.




After swimming a bit we were off the the next stop.



We passed incredible views.







We stopped here for a moment. This, blog readers, is President Trump's Caribbean house.






Our next stop was Maho Beach. Also known as Airport Beach. Michael had timed it perfectly. We waited a few minutes and saw this:




Closer.....








Coming closer.....








And right over our heads!






The runway begins right at the beach.




Youtube Airport Beach and you'll see just how close those jets get to the beach. We had wanted to go to the beach itself but it was a 20 minute taxi ride one way, and didn't think we would have enough time.


Our last stop was at the beach around the bay from the airport. The water was crystal clear, and we had about 20 minutes to jump in and swim for a while.





We headed back to the dock and our excursion was done.




So what did we think? We really liked snorkeling in the different spots but it was a bummer that at the first spot there wasn't much to see. Michael our driver was cordial, but never got into the water with us and didn't interact much beyond being the driver. But it was very cool to have gone completely around St Thomas and see a few amazing sights and beaches.

Harmony of the Seas: Day 1, Boarding the Ship
Harmony of the Seas: Day 1, Central Park and Aqua Show
Harmony of the Seas: Day 2 ~ Nassau, Bahamas
Harmony of the Seas: Day 2 ~ Afternoon and Dinner in the Dining Room
Harmony of the Seas: Day 3 ~ Day at Sea
Harmony of the Seas: Day 4 ~ St. Thomas, Jamie's Italian
Harmony of the Seas: Day 5 ~ Sint Maarten/Saint Martin
Harmony of the Seas: Day 5 ~ Main Dining Room and Headliner Show
Harmony of the Seas: Day 6 ~ Fun on the Ship



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