St Martin Travels

st martin

 

St Martin and St. Maarten are popular Caribbean vacation spots with pristine beautiful beaches and crystal clear aqua blue waters that are seasonable year-round. St. Martin and St. Maarten are both actually one island controlled to the north and south by the French and Dutch government. Due to the island being controlled by these two EU nations, it is very safe and the laws are enforced by their respective governments. Although it is physically one island, there are significant differences between the two sides. St. Martin, which composes two-thirds of the north side, has excellent restaurants and beaches while providing a more secluded, peaceful and intimate environment. St. Maarten is more heavily developed with large resorts and is known for its night life with casinos, clubs, and bars.  Both sides offer excellent water sports activities such as snorkeling, sailing and windsurfing. The peak season for the island goes from December through April, while in the offseason, hotels can be heavily discounted up to half off.

In St. Martin, besides the exquisite beaches, there are also other interesting places to visit. One such place is the Loterie Farm, which is a 150-acre private nature preserve that was opened to the public in 1999 by an American expat. There are trails that go through the preserve’s native forest which houses its tamarind, gum, mango, and mahogany trees. While hiking these trails, it is possible to see many indigenous species such as monkeys and lizards. There are also lounges and cafes in the area to rest and eat from a vigorous day of hiking.

With regards to beaches in St. Martin, Oriental Bay is considered St. Martin’s most beautiful beach with 2 miles of white sand and an underwater marine reserve. Its popularity also makes it one of the most crowded with hotels and beach clubs occupying the area. Happy Bay is a lesser known beach but is worth visiting with its powdery sand and excellent views of Anguilla. It is surrounded by luxury villas and has an exclusive and private feel.

In St. Maarten, Mullet Beach is a mile-long, powdery white-sand beach located behind a golf course and is widely regarded as the best beach in St. Maarten. The water is very tranquil and it is a popular spot for snorkeling, surfing and diving. Another good beach is Simpson Bay, which is close to the airport but has some of the most exquisite crystal water on the island.

Besides beaches, another popular spot is St. Maarten Park, which is the largest zoo in the Caribbean and features over 80 kinds of indigenous species. It is located at the northern edge of the Great Salt Pond. If you’re in the mood for an excursion, there are sightseeing tours that take you through Philipsburg to view the interesting towns, stunning beaches and local cuisine of the island.

There are plenty of other activities to do in St. Maarten, such as biking through the natural wonders of the island and exploring secret coves. There are also many clubs, restaurants and casinos that provide a myriad of night life options to make sure that your vacation never gets dull. The quality of dining options on the island is reinforced by the fact that St. Maarten is called the “Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean.”

Bora Bora Vacation

bora bora vacation

Image courtesy of tahiti.com

Known as the most beautiful island in the world with some of the best beaches, Bora Bora means “first born.” The name was derived from an ancient story describing it as the first island to rise in this island region. Bora Bora is located in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean and is part of French Polynesia. It is an island surrounded by a lagoon and barrier reef. In the center of the central island are two extinct volcanoes with high points of 2,385 feet. The central Bora Bora island is surrounded by smaller islands. One of these smaller islands includes what is known as the best beach in Bora Bora, which is Eden Beach on Motu Piti A’Au island. This beach faces the central Bora Bora island.

Located northwest of Tahiti, the airport for Bora Bora is positioned on a separate part of the island, whereupon arrival, you can be escorted by boat to your resort. Most Bora Bora resort hotels are built on their own tiny islands, so traveling outside usually requires boat transport. However, each resort is self-sufficient, so you can spend all your time at the resort without having to worry about going outside the resort to get food or access other needs. Bora Bora is most known for its pristine crystal-clear waters and its overwater bungalows, which are perched over the lagoon on stilts. Most of the resorts in the area showcase these famous bungalows as their main attractions. These bungalow accommodations can range from relatively cheap and basic to very luxurious and expensive. Many of these bungalows also have glass floors so that you can view the lagoon below, including any potential wildlife swimming in the area.

Some of the most popular activities offered on the island include snorkeling, diving, and exploring through the turquoise and pristine lagoon waters. The waters are shallow and clear so you can snorkel right from your bungalow or the beach almost anywhere around the island. You can also explore the waters by jet ski or glass-bottom boats to observe the colorful coral and schools of tropical fish below. Many species of sharks and rays also inhabit the surrounding water, so you must keep an eye out for them. Other water-related activities include sunset cruises on catamarans and even enjoying breakfast by canoe, which can be served directly to the balcony of your bungalow.

You can also explore the beauty of the island through hiking, accompanied by experienced local guides. Popular destinations include both Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu through guided hike or Jeep safari tours. There is no public transportation on the island, but available transportation includes rental cars and bicycles, so you should also be prepared to do a lot of walking on the island. If you want to travel outside the resort, you can visit the main village of Vaitape and shop at unique and high-end local boutiques. Also available are dozens of interesting island restaurants with international cuisine.

bora bora visit

Image courtesy of tahiti.com

Whatever you are looking for in an island excursion or getaway, Bora Bora is one of the most renowned places to visit. One visit to this island and you will be able to get one of the best island vacation experiences around. Although the price tag may be a little steep compared to other island vacation spots, it can be a nice little experience for couples and families.

Washington DC War Memorials

Washington DC is the political capital of the world and also one of its most dynamic and diverse cities. This city encapsulates American history and has many sights and experiences to offer for tourists and locals, which is why DC is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some of the most highly regarded tourist sights are the memorials that pay tribute to the Americans who sacrificed their lives for the future of their country. These war memorials remind us of the essential role that these individuals played in the history of the country.

Rick Latoff / American Battle Monuments Commission

Rick Latoff / American Battle Monuments Commission

One of the most popular war memorial tourist sights is the National World War II Memorial, which honors the 16 million individuals who served in the US military and the more than 400,000 who sacrificed their lives. Located between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, this monument is made of two semi-circles consisting of 56 granite pillars inside the memorial, which represent the US states and territories that participated in the war. The Freedom Wall displays 4,048 gold stars, each star representing 100 American soldiers who died in the war. On the wall is also displayed a message which reads: “Here we mark the price of freedom.”

Photo sourced from washington.org

Photo sourced from washington.org

Arlington National Cemetery is the resting place for those killed in the line of duty from every conflict dating back to the Civil War. Some of the notable cemeteries are those of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, President William Howard Taft, boxer Joe Louis, and the Space Shuttle Challenger crew. The must see sight at Arlington Cemetery is the ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknowns. Members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment guard the tomb, and the guard is changed every 30 minutes in a serious and reverential ritual.

Photo by Chris James

Photo by Chris James

The US Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is a US military monument sited at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. This memorial was built after World War II and dedicated to all the personnel of the US Marine Corps who have died in defense of the United States since 1775. The monument statue was designed based on the iconic photograph of the raising of the second flag on Mount Suribachi. The statue depicts five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the second flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. A panorama of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building are visible from the grounds.

For those visiting these tourist sites in Arlington, VA and looking for a lunch time bite to eat, there are some very good options close by. One restaurant near Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington Cemetery is Manhattan Café. They serve excellent deli sandwiches and have a diverse buffet bar for those that want to mix it up. Another good spot a bit further down Lynn Street is Chopt, an awesome fast food salad place that offers options of 24 homemade dressings, six lettuces and 55 separate ingredients. They are also constantly adding new seasonal salads. In this vicinity of Arlington, there are also several hotels and accommodations available.

So whether you want to devote an entire day or multiple days to viewing these memorials and surrounding sights, these three sites are recommended to be visited to see how the nation pays tribute to its fallen soldiers who have sacrificed for their country and made an important part of its history. As there is so much to see in Washington DC, it is important to prepare an itinerary so that you don’t have to waste too much time with finding your way around and looking for places to eat and lodge.