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I'm Jessica (my friends call me Breezy) and I am a photographer serving the Sioux City area.
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Last month’s Christmas trip was just THE BEST. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a few snapshots here and there on my stories. This was our second annual “White Sand Christmas” and I regret nothing! Yes, I LOVE Christmas with family at home. But for my family and I it gets very stressful and hectic, so we decided to make a change. We use the Christmas holiday time to go somewhere together, go on adventures, make memories and RELAX. This year we chose the island of St. Martin and it was incredible!
Summarizing the trip here on the blog means so much to me because 1. I love being able to look back on these posts and see the memories all over again and 2. I wanted to share the itinerary of what we did so that anyone traveling to St. Martin has an idea of some of our favorite spots! Traveling to new islands can be tough as you get familiar with the area, so skip the hard part and start with the good stuff! 😉
The most important thing to note is these are ALL iPhone photos. I did not take my Mark IV on the trip…it’s very heavy to juggle with a kiddo and I had a wedding a day after we got home. The risk of anything happening it to it during travel was too risky for me! Every image was shot on my iPhone 11 Pro Max (or whatever it’s called) and edited them in the Lightroom Mobile App.
5 AM flight meant we were dragging Jaxon out of bed at 2:30 AM and making our way to the airport in freezing temps! We had a tight connection in Atlanta and didn’t have time to get a solid meal, so $40 of plane snacks it was. Note to self: pack more gluten free food in the carry-on!!
We made it through the airport and to pick up the rental car all in time to be at the hotel right before sunset. We took in the view from the room and ran down to the beach to play in the waves as the sun dipped behind the mountains. Wait until you see the smile on Jaxon’s face!! He is a beach baby just like his Mama!
First breakfast at La Playa hotel was great! Their kitchen has been setup in an Airstream since the hurricane and it’s Instagram perfection! We hit the beach around the hotel as early as we could, but didn’t get to play long as some storm clouds came in. We took the opportunity to drive around the island while it sprinkled and figure out the main roads we would need for the rest of the week.
Jaxon must have been tired from a day of travel, he took an hour and a half nap in the back of the rental car as we explored. I booked a massage at my first chance because I had one heck of a migraine. The boys went for supper during my massage, and when they came back to the room Jaxon was instantly sick!! Food poisoning kind of sick…and we spent most of the night cleaning up messes in the hotel room!
We spent the ENTIRE day in the hotel room as Jaxon had a fever and felt miserable. He napped on and off the whole time, and watched a few cartoons. I took a three mile walk on the beach and found the most amazing overlook – it was the most pristine cliff that people use for yoga and meditation. The few minutes to myself was HEAVEN!
By the late afternoon, Jason and I were a bit stir crazy, so we decided to drive around and explore more of the island while Jaxon kept resting in the back seat. We got a bit turned around on a few roundabouts and ended up in the neighborhoods hit hardest by the rioting and protesting. We felt safe, but it was definitely some challenging driving getting around the roadblocks.
TRAVEL TRIP: GENIUS way to save some money during travel is to eat in a couple of nights. Supper this evening was spaghetti bolognese that we made in the hotel room’s kitchenette.
ALL of Sunday was spent in quiet moments on the beach. Jaxon still wasn’t 100% yet, so we focused on letting him play at his own speed, nap when he needed, and try to get some food into his system.
We did make it out for supper this evening and ended up at Bistrot Caraibes where you choose your own live lobster. Jason chose a monster lobster and I stuck with the filet…but both were SUPERB!! If you’re going to try lobster on the island, I highly recommend it here for their signature dish, the “Thermidor.” Lobster, butter, cream sauce and cheese…need I say more?
TRAVEL TIP: If you’re traveling with kids, most restaurants on islands don’t provide coloring sheets. We brought along a baggie with markers, Jaxon’s notebook, a few stickers and a traveling tic tac toe game (from [Michael and Bailey’s wedding] (https://jessicabrees.com/boulder-colorado-wedding-michael-bailey/) this year 🤩). Keeping a few things like this in your bag will be a HUGE help for restaurants on island time!
We took an all day trip to Anguilla and LOVED it!! We chose to DIY it instead of taking a booked excursion. I am torn on whether this is the best way or not. We left the hotel LATE (like 10AM) and missed the earliest ferry we could catch. NOTE: give yourself lots of time before the ferry is due to leave because you have to go through three windows of customs and they move slooooooow.
Jason also wanted to rent a car on Anguilla because it was on his bucket list to drive on the opposite side of the road. The only negative I have to say here is that I had to be the navigator and it was tough for me to piece together exactly where all the small side roads, parking lots, and beach entrances were. All the beaches are public I believe, but they’re all near developments and so it was tough figuring out where we were allowed to walk through.
Once we found a spot, it was fantastic!! The white sand was incredible and the beaches were not crowded at all. I will say for families, the beaches in St Martin and Anguilla all had rough waves and made it tough for Jaxon to swim and play on his own. Snorkeling right from the beach was a bit tough, but I did dive down and find a conch shell, so I call the entire day trip a success!
We spent Christmas eve on a chartered boat trip through Captain Alan’s cruises. This was my absolute favorite part of the entire trip!! My biggest recommendation is to do a boat cruise with Captain Alan’s! We got to snorkel with huge sea turtles and Jaxon did SO well!! He did much better jumping off a boat to snorkel versus swimming out from the beach.
Jason got a bit sea sick on the boat ride because of the high waves, so he couldn’t snorkel much. That was a bummer. At the second stop, I snorkeled while the two boys stayed on the boat. Along the reef I saw the cutest baby sea turtle and got to swim with him by myself for a couple of minutes.
The last stop was Pinel Island and this was the BEST FIND!! If you do travel here with small kids, this will be the place to go as the waters are much calmer and are shallow for a long ways out!
TRAVEL TIP: We ate supper at Rancho Del Sol and the views were amazing and the food was alright. I am not sure I highly recommend spending the money here on one of your nights out.
CHRISTMAS DAY!! Jaxon was very excited to wake up to his Santa presents and we took things very slow on Christmas morning. We planned to spend the entire day lounging around on Pinel island and it was a great idea! When we got off the ferry boat, they had someone dressed as Santa handing candies out to the kiddos and they all loved it!
We saved our big supper out for Christmas night and all dressed up for the occasion! I loved this part!! This was our first time eating on the Dutch side and we realized we should have been eating over there more!! If you’re not a huge fan of French cuisine, the Dutch side would be a better bet for you.
We ate a Skip Jacks and had a blast watching a few yachts leave the marina while we ate. The wait staff was incredibly friendly and the chicken kabobs with the pineapple mango salsa was DELICIOUS!! This is when Jaxon finally decided he wanted to hold a lobster and he actually didn’t freak out!!
TRAVEL TIP: I got this dress for Christmas from Poshmark and highly recommend checking it out for getting your higher cost items!! I caught this Calvin Klein dress with tags still on it for $20. NO JOKE!
JUST LIKE THAT it was all over and time to go home. We had a late afternoon flight, so we spent the morning finding Pic Paradis, the highest spot on the island. We were a bit lost, but found our way up the “back side.” If you stop here, be sure to get accurate directions from someone and be aware that the road up is SCARY STEEP. Worth it in the end, the views were the best way to end the trip!!
Overall, I think anyone would love a trip to St Martin!! It’s still healing from the hurricane overall, but any tourism dollars they gain will help it recover that much faster!
Okay, now time for PHOTOOOSS!! That’s why you’re actually here right? I am surprised you’ve read this far!
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