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.
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.
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.
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
Up next: Getting home via Guadeloupe.
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