St. Maarten / St. Martin recovery: island update
By Kerry Biddle on 10th November, 2017
As St. Maarten / St. Martin slowly recovers, so more and more people are starting to come back, not only evacuees, but visitors as well. Both airports are open for commercial flights, the port is open for commercial vessels and cruise ships and the curfews have been lifted on both sides of the island. Here’s an update on the relief effort…
Roofing sheets removed from the water at Kim Sha beach | Photo credit: The Nature Foundation
As mentioned in an earlier post, Princess Heights in Oyster Pond is open and ready to receive guests. Added to that list now is the following hotels and resorts:
It’s best to contact the hotels and resorts directly for the latest information and to keep an eye on their Facebook pages and websites. Hotels on the French side anticipate a 2018 opening, but some of the smaller guest houses are planning to be open by the end of the year. We will update the list as we get confirmation on these places.
Rainforest Adventures’ Flying Dutchman
Rainforest Adventures, boasting the steepest zip line in the world, will open this month when the first cruise ship after Hurricane Irma is scheduled to arrive in port. Two attractions, the zipline and chairlift, will be open in November with the other two, the Sentry Hill zip line and the Schooner ride opening early in 2018. The chairlift takes guests up to a platform on top of one of St. Maarten’s highest points to give a breathtaking view of the island and neighboring islands. The restaurant and museum will be open this month as well.
Aqua Mania’s charter yachts came through the hurricane undamaged and Dive Safaris only lost one of their dive boats. They will be open for business when visitors start returning to the island.
The Edge ferries to other islands are up and running and can be booked through Aqua Mania. Voyager 3 ferry is running between Marigot and St Barth’s and the ferry between Marigot and Anguilla is also operational.
The Scuba Shop is well stocked and open for business. They will be updating information on the snorkel sites from about the middle of November through December.
Holland House in Philipsburg
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and bars that are open are mainly on the Dutch side and include the following establishments:
- Sint Maarten Yacht Club Bar and Restaurant.
- Lagoonies in Cole Bay.
- Soggy Dollar Bar at Palapa Marina.
- Buccaneer Beach Bar on Kim Sha beach.
- Avantika in Simpson Bay.
- Beirut in Simpson Bay.
- Dinghy Dock in Simpson Bay.
- Gigi’s Organic Foods in Simpson Bay.
- Pineapple Pete’s in Simpson Bay.
- Karakter on Simpson Bay beach.
- Lee’s Roadside Grill in Simpson Bay.
- Sal & Pepe in Simpson Bay.
- Rum and Peas in Simpson Bay.
- Top Carrot in Simpson Bay.
- Topper’s in Simpson Bay.
- Harry’s in Simpson Bay.
- Vena Taverna in Simpson Bay is open for breakfast and lunch, dinner hours to be announced.
- Zee Best in Simpson Bay.
- Greenhouse in both Simpson Bay and Philipsburg.
- Holland House in Philipsburg.
- Mario Bistrot in Cupecoy.
- Mark’s Place at Grand Marche in Bush Road.
- Red Piano opposite Pelican Resort.
- Little Mobay in Maho.
- Taco Macho near Maho beach.
- Mama Pizza in Oyster Pond.
Marinas and Bridges
Marinas that are open include:
- Lagoon Marina is open and water and power on the docks should now be restored.
- Island Water World is running at about 50% capacity and should have power and water on the docks by November/December.
- Port de Plaisance has very limited available dock space at the time of this writing.
- Isle de Sol is expected to be operational early in November at 25% capacity, with more docks open in December.
- Simpson Bay Marina is set to open partially in early November.
- The Simpson Bay bridge has been limited to two openings per day at 10:00 and 15:00 and the Causeway bridge and French side bridge are closed until further notice.
Marker buoys show where the wreck is close to Karakter on Simpson Bay beach | Photo credit: The Nature Foundation
Many beaches have been badly eroded in the storm and it will take time for the sand to return to cover the large rocks and boulders now exposed. The Nature Foundation recommends that swimmers wear protective footwear as sharp objects can still be washed up on the beaches.
Beaches that have been cleared where possible by the Nature Foundation and declared safe for swimming on the Dutch side include:
- Simpson Bay beach from Halley Drive to Karakter Beach Bar and Restaurant. Take note that the old wreck that has been there for many years is still a potential danger to swimmers and is located on the Beacon Hill side of Karakter.
- Kim Sha Beach and Pelican. Buccaneer Beach Bar and their crew did a brilliant job of clearing up Kim Sha Beach and The Nature Foundation only had to remove debris from the water.
- Mullet Bay.
- The stretch of Dawn Beach in front of the Westin.
Beaches still being cleared of debris and not recommended for swimming by The Nature Foundation are as follows:
- Great Bay beach in Philipsburg is still very murky and is still under reconstruction, but should be clear in the coming weeks.
- Guana Bay and Indigo Bay still have hurricane debris and should be avoided until they are cleared.
Brown pelicans return to their old nesting site at Divi Little Bay | Photo credit: The Nature Foundation
Nature is Recovering
It was feared that the island’s national symbol, the brown pelican, had been decimated. The 40 breeding pairs that were being monitored at Divi Little Bay breeding site were gone and feared lost after the hurricane, but surprisingly on a later trip to assess the site, most of the pelicans had returned and had rebuilt nests and are laying eggs.
Unfortunately the turtle nests on the beaches were not so lucky and have been wiped out.
Almost as a symbol of island resilience, shattered trees have sprouted new shoots and the island is green again after the rains.
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Read more: Animal evacuation on St. Maarten / St. Martin