A trip to Anguilla wouldn’t be complete without a daytrip
to St. Martin, or vice versa. I see St. Martin as Manhattan, and
Anguilla, as the Hamptons. St. Martin, or St. Maarten depending
on one's location, is a small, mountainous island divided by the
French and Dutch. Their influences, as well as that of the docking
cruise liners, have made St. Martin into a busy tourist center
full of restaurants, shops, casinos and nightclubs.
Get up early and take the ferry from Blowing Point in Anguilla
to Marigot in St Martin. From the boat, head straight to the spice
market alongside the pier. (Check with your concierge before you
go to make sure the market is open on your day of travel.) You’ll
have to fight your way through souvenir stalls set up for the
cruise ship set, but just behind them are folks selling some great
kitchen finds. Stop when you see colorful arrangements of Caribbean
fruits and provisions, Haitian sea salt, cassava flour, vanilla
beans, and spices of all types. You can take dried spices and
bottles of flavored rum and hot sauce back to the states, so indulge
yourself. If you know a little French or Creole, you can get some
great recipes too.
After the market, return to the ferry terminal and rent a car
for the day. Look for a guy named “Cash” for a good
deal. Head to Grand Case for some Caribbean snacks enriched by
French tastes. One of my favorite food stalls is, “Talk
of the Town Too,” where I order boudin noir seasoned deeply
with clove and onions, stuffed crab, and christophene and eggplant
stuffed with conch and pork and broiled crispy brown. All are
great with local hot sauce and a cold beer.
From there feel free to explore the island, stopping at galleries,
rum shops, zoos and museums on both the Dutch and French sides.
Go to Orient beach on the French side, and get oriented on the
human anatomy; it is topless. Mie Oui!
Throw some dice at the casinos, if you must, or see one of the
exotic shows on the Dutch side. There are many things available
in St. Martin that you won’t find on Anguilla, serenity
not being one of them. By the end of the day, I always look forward
to settling onto the ferry and heading back home to paradise.