I really enjoy hiking because it is a great way to exercise while experiencing nature’s beauty. Plus, hikes can have different intensity levels, so it can be a good activity even if you are not athletic. In St. Martin, the mountainous terrain and gorgeous beaches make for a perfect hike. You don’t have to choose between the two! We had gone hiking in St. Martin on our last trip and enjoyed it so much, we decided to do it again.
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As I’ve learned from previous experience, it is always important to be prepared for a hike. It is hard to know how difficult a hike will be as everyone’s assessment of difficulty level can vary. You should always bring water and a few snacks just in case. And in warmer locations, I recommend freezing the water so that it will stay cold. In St. Martin, we bought sparkling water and the freezing trick worked well. Also, I would recommend starting your hike as early as possible, as it will get warmer the later you go.
If your hike goes to a beach, like the one we did, you should also bring a towel or something to brush off the sand. Men can easily hike in a t-shirt and bathing suit (swimming trunks for our UK readers), but for women it may be more comfortable to wear a sports bra. This can double as a bathing suit depending on how badly you want to get in the water. Depending on your skin sensitivity, you should take into consideration the possibility you could chafe when hiking after a swim.
It is also important to wear proper footwear – not flip-flops or barefoot (yes I have seen this) – to help prevent injury. I usually hike in sneakers but if you have hiking boots that is even better. It should go without saying that you should also bring your cell phone/camera. It is also important to have a hiking partner, just in case something happens, to keep you company, help you carry stuff, and of course take pictures of you. Lastly, the best way to carry supplies is in a backpack, so that you have your hands free and you will not be off balance by carrying weight on one side. Additionally, if you are going through an area with a narrow path, the backpack can sit snugly up against your body.
We decided to attempt the hike to Anse Marcel beach, which we had tried on our last trip to St. Martin. I would classify it as a moderately difficult hike. There are times were you will need to use your hands to make sure you don’t lose your balance on large steps, but there are some flat parts also. Last time we were not properly prepared and we got a late start, so it got hot and we ran out of water so we had to turn around before we got to the beach. We learned our lesson, so this time we came with frozen water, snacks, sunblock, and bug spray all packed in a backpack and parked the car about 7:30 am.
The first part of the trail is a little boring – it’s wide and flat like a dirt road almost. There is a nice view of the hotel, boats, and water through the brush. Almost a mile in is where the real hike starts. It is rocky and narrow with some steep inclines and declines. The trail is well marked with white dashes, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. There were lots of interesting plants and some signs along the way describing them. We also saw some crabs (yes even when we were high up) and ran into some spider webs. At some points, there really were some breathtaking views, so we took occasional breaks to have a drink and snap a picture.
When we arrived on the first beach we stumbled upon a couple who were almost hiding in the bushes but other than that the beach was empty. We continued to walk along the rocky part of the beach so that we could see what was around the corner. There was another beach but it was all rocks, so we decided to turn around at that point because we felt the first beach was the highlight. Once we got back to the first beach we decided to go for a little swim. The waves were fairly rough so I just put my feet in, while Katherine went for a swim. Then we dried off and brushed the sand off and headed back to the car. All in all it took us about 3 hours.
As we had done the previous year, we went to Marigot for lunch. We really like La Belle Epoque, which is a French place located by the smaller marina (not the one that the ferry to Anguilla leaves from). The portions there, as in many other restaurants in St. Martin, are great for sharing. Our favorite dish is the beef tartare, which was nice and refreshing after the hike. We will provide more St. Martin dining tips in a later post as there are lots of great options here.
To get to the hike, you can park at the Anse Marcel Beach Resort Hotel (on the Northeast part of St. Martin) and just walk a little bit up the hill to the trailhead. Look for the signs that say “Froussards” and you will also see a map of the full trail. If you do end up hiking in St. Martin, especially if you went farther than we did, we would love to hear what you thought.
- Be prepared when going for a hike, bring a backpack, water, snacks, sunscreen, towel, and bug spray and always hike with a partner.
- Freeze the water and start early for hikes in warmer climates.
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