I went up on deck, with my camera this time, as we sailed into St. Martin/ St. Maarten. I had forgotten how hilly and beautiful this island is.
As we came closer to the pier, I could see the other ships in port, including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. It was next to one of the Carnival ships and it is HUGE!
I tried to get a shot from the side, but could not fit it into on frame. We had decided to go to Orient Beach because Pam wanted to do some parasailing. I remembered Orient Beach from my first trip toSt. Martin years ago. When you exit the port area, there are waiting areas for the various destinations you might want to visit while on island. You just find the appropriate sign, get in line, and soon you are in a taxi or little bus and on your way. Very well organized. The drive was about 30 minutes through the countryside and neighborhoods of St. Martin. I always enjoy seeing the local houses and businesses along the way.
The taxi dropped us by Bikini Beach and we headed off to get some chairs and umbrellas – $18 for 2 chairs with an umbrella which I think is pretty reasonable. Pam was anxious to get to parasailing, but I wanted a beer or 2 first. I got a bucket of beer, and by the time I had half Pam had convinced me to just go check it out. We went over to the closest Parasailing place and were told they only had room for 2 more that day so if we could pay now we’d be next out to the boat. We understood that to mean that they were booked up for the day, and if we wanted to go we had better go now. So we went back for our money and got the life jackets on and were told that we would be taken to the boat by jet ski. Alright! Parasailing and a jet ski ride with a hunky guy for $50 – seems like a deal to me. It was really windy this day and the waves were pretty big. Pam got motioned out for the first jet ski and she managed to get up on it and one big wave hit her, she rode that one out, when the next wave came in the ski had turned sideways and over she went. Oh, boy, it’s funny when it happens to someone else, but I’m going to be next. Finally both she and the driver were onboard and headed out to the boat. Another guy motioned me out and he got me on the back, gave it a little gas while he pulled himself up, which seemed to work a little better. It was a pretty bumpy ride out to the boat, but having owned my own jet ski years ago, I always enjoy the ride.
When I got to the boat I realized that there were about 3 parties ahead of us still to parasail. Ok, so we get a little boat tour along with our jet ski ride and parasailing excursion. It turned out to be fun though because everyone on the boat was happy and fun, and we got to watch several people before our turn which made me a little more comfortable. Unfortunately, our friends who were taking pictures from shore had no way of knowing when it was our turn so the pictures are of random people parasailing.
Pam went first, I felt it was a good sign that she was still smiling when she came back onboard. Finally it was my turn. I’d been told by a friend years ago that parasailing is fun going up and coming down, but kind of boring when you’re up there. That is pretty accurate. It an interesting sensation going off of the boat – a little scary. When you get up in the air, it’s interesting to look around at the surrounding islands and you can see a lot. I felt sort of suspended in the air – like I wasn’t moving, but I could see the boat moving below. Then they are reeling you in. This is a little nerve racking because you can hear the harness creaking, it makes you think about what you’ve been hanging from for the last 10 minutes or so. The 2 guys running this operation liked to give us a little dip into the water before bringing us all the way in. There was a father with his teenage daughter who went a couple of people before us who lifted their feet and ended up going almost under the water. This seemed to encourage our guys to dip us all a little more than they had been doing. I definitely got wet – but it was fun and very refreshing. Finally I was back on the boat and before long back on the jet ski heading back to shore. My driver this time was a little better at threading his way through the waves so it wasn’t quite so bumpy most of the way in, but when we turned towards shore it got pretty rough again. Getting off that jet ski was a challenge and I even hit the edge a bit with by behind as I got into the water. I’m glad I finally parasailed, but don’t think it is something I need to do again.
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the water, drinking beer and relaxing. There were quite a few vendors on the beach. I did buy a blouse that I could use as a bathing suit cover up, but I have plenty of tote bags and island jewelry from previous trips. There was a water trampoline a ways out. Pam and I swam out to it. My niece and great nephew soon joined us and she commented that she hoped no one came out to collect their $5 (or was it $10?). What? On the side of the trampoline in big letters there was a $ sign with either 5 or 10 after it so apparently at some time someone was charging for you to use this. We hung out there for awhile, but it got a bit hot, and I basically rolled off back into the water and headed back to shore. That was a pretty good swim with that rough water, but I LOVE the Caribbean water. This was a great day – just what I want when I’m cruising theCaribbean.
Eventually we decided we should head back to the ship. No problem getting a taxi (in fact, we had 2 drivers almost come to blows over us).
We did not do any shopping, although the driver did stop so people could get off and go intoPhillipsburgand shop. We opted to go back to the ship, rinse the sand off, and enjoy the ships amenities.