DYland Time: Great Fun in Grand Case


Arriving at Grand Case airport in St. Martin
Arriving at Grand Case airport in St. Martin

Getting here: The Norwegian Inaugural

Flying in to Grand Case Airport on St. Martin is one of those silly things I get excited by. It is a small air strip on the north side of the island which sees a dozen or so flights daily, all from props to the neighbor islands. And no beach spectacle right at the end of the runway to attract hordes of tourists watching the planes come and go. That is part of what makes it interesting to me. It is the “other” airport, almost an afterthought.

Arriving at Grand Case airport in St. Martin
Arriving at Grand Case airport in St. Martin

On this particular day, however, it was our destination on Air Antilles via Guadeloupe. Check-in at Martinique for the local flight was quick and easy; the airport gets a few big flights but for the 50 seats on Air Antilles’ ATR-42 there’s just not much going on. That meant a quick immigration and security screening (though Pizza got waylaid significantly at security) and then in to the spacious, empty terminal to await our flight. Boarding was only a few minutes delayed – early by island time standards – and soon we were walking out on to the apron and over to our colorful plane.

The check-in terminal for Air Antilles in Martinique
The check-in terminal for Air Antilles in Martinique
headed outside for boarding Air Antilles
headed outside for boarding Air Antilles to Guadeloupe
Loving the colorful tail on the Air Antilles livery
Loving the colorful tail on the Air Antilles livery

Open seating and being one of the last to board left me in the rear facing exit seat all the way at the front of the plane (boarding is from the rear) which was just fine for getting a few photos en route. A quick connection at Guadeloupe (they held the plane for us and the others also connecting) and soon we were flying low over the northeast coast of St. Martin, with its many beaches and coves. It is a prettier landing than SXM, at least for those sitting on the plane.

The small airport experience meant plane to curb was ridiculously quick and easy. It also meant that the rental car agent was on break and not answering the phone when we called. So for the second time in two days I got to try out my French skills and book a rental car in the Caribbean as a walk-up customer. That was, fortunately, a relatively painless experience as was the 15 minute drive to Orient Bay Beach where we quickly checked in, changed clothes and headed out to the beach for the afternoon.

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Kitesurfing in Orient Bay, Saint Martin
Having fun on the water in Orient Bay, Saint Martin
Having fun on the water in Orient Bay, Saint Martin

After a night of eating and drinking in the small village area at Orient Beach we were up early once more, headed back to Guadeloupe. I had an hour or so of early beach time, watching the vendors setting up the chairs and umbrellas for the day and morning walkers getting their exercise in. Turns out many of those are guests at the clothing-optional resort at the far end of the beach. o_O

Morning on the beach...mostly empty
Morning on the beach…mostly empty
Quiet time on Orient Bay Beach
Quiet time on Orient Bay Beach

Up next: Getting home via Guadeloupe.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

3 Comments

  1. I love how you explored the other part of St Martin to give that perspective of the island as well. Everyone knows about the “other airport,” yet many do not know about this one. It looks like you had a great time!

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