We set off in some rougher weather, 3m large swell and up to 20 knots of wind. Due to this Kathryn wasn’t feeling great, but at least we saw lots of dolphins and were going nice and fast.
The general plan was to set off in this worse weather and have it drop down to something nice within a day or two. Sail most of the way, and as we approach the UK have a lull, before the subsequent low pressure would start to catch us, and then boost our way into the English channel.
All of this weather planning ended up being fairly accurate and we mostly sailed as planned with a couple of days of motoring in the middle and made it into the UK after 9 days.
On the way we saw these interesting cluster-type things that at the time we thought were some kind of jellyfish, but it turns out were Gooseneck Barnacles in a little cluster.
The blender that we bought in Velas came in handy once again. We still had leftover frozen fruit from our last smoothies to blend along with some fresh stuff, so we had mid-crossing smoothies!
We ended up watching quite a number of films in the cockpit during this passage, so popcorn was also needed.
We came toward England quite close to the Isles of Scilly, and this was the first land we saw, we were almost home. One more night sailing along the English coast and we came in for our approach to Falmouth in very light winds the following morning.
We anchored in the corner of the inner anchorage area, and were the closest boat to shore. It turns out that it was “Armed forces day” and there were quite some celebrations going on, including a flyover of the red arrows just after we anchored, and a parade through the streets of Falmouth. This started to explain the presence of 3 naval boats in the harbour too.
Our friends Tom and Nat arrived in Falmouth shortly after to whisk us away for brunch, and evening BBQ on the beach, and a nice evening in a land bed, which was absolutely great!
Just a few more hops along the English coastline till Hannah is back in her home port of Dartmouth.
Off we set to Horta in the morning. When first getting out of the marina it felt like the wind was really going to work in our favor, and we were making good progress to Horta. The forecast was for the wind to totally swing around and come from Horta, and for it to drop quite some before we were scheduled to arrive.
In reality, the wind swing happened much earlier, and there was no real period of light winds, so after a few minutes of sailing, we found ourselves tacking to Horta through changeable wind directions and choppy swell. This turned into one of the wobbliest curvey tracks we have sailed to date (see below and don’t judge!).
On our journey to Horta, we also crossed paths with Artemis, who was heading from Horta to Velas. We managed to come quite close to each other as they were gull-winging downwind and both got some good snaps of each other.
Artemis gullwinging to VelasHannah Penn from Artemis
Arriving in Horta we anchored on the edge of the anchor field. We counted another 30 or so boats at anchor, and it’s crazy to think a week before during the low pressure that passed over the Azores there were around 80 boats at anchor, things must have been tight!
After checking into the Azores finally, we headed to Peter Sport Cafe, a rather iconic and long-standing (104 years) cafe/bar in Horta that has been frequented by many a sailor over the years.
For people sailing the Atlantic, Café Peter is more of an institution than a café. With its bright blue facade and orange sign, it serves as a currency exchange, yachting club, hobby, post office, tourist attraction and even as a charity on many occasions. (…) “
in Travel Section of “El Monde” San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1982
Upstairs they have a small whaling museum with a large focus on whale teeth, bones, and also the history of the cafe. Of course, not just whale teeth, but rather art on and with the teeth and bones of whales that has been performed for many years, a tradition called Scrimshaw.
Sperm Whale jaw bonesWhale made of whale boneAlex Thompson on a toothCollection of whale tooth and bone carvings and sculptures
Our next job was to explore the area around the harbor a little, and we were recommended a hike up to the closest point which was also next to a local Caldera. Here we also walked past some old whaling factories, now turned museums, and you can see the ramps that they would have used to winch whales onto land from the sea.
Whale factory rampCaldera near Horta
We wanted to explore as much of the Azores as possible but were also aware that we needed to be back in the UK for July, and time was starting to feel tight. So rather than sail to Pico (the island next to Horta), we got a rather cheap ferry one morning to bus around and explore with Saga.
Here we went to another whaling museum that included a short film we could watch as well as quite a few rather graphic pictures from the time of whaling still in the Azores, which only came to an end in the mid 1980’s.
Small boats being towed out to catch a whaleA whale on shore about to be cut up
Originally we wanted to also sail to Terceira, but as the weather continued evolving, we decided we had better head back to the UK sooner rather than later to avoid more motoring and arrive with plenty of time so as not to rush the last few days of our adventures.
This meant leaving directly from Horta early on the morning of 15th June. But before departing we wanted to partake in the tradition of painting the harbor wall with a small mural for our crossing ahead. This is something we have seen in many other ports, but haven’t found the time to get painting to date.
We managed to have one more night of food, drinks, fun, and conversation before really starting to prep for the crossing back to the UK.
As part of this night, Sam from Blue Note was going around Peter Sport Cafe trying to get people to dance. In doing so, he found someone else in the bar from Devon, UK, and brought them over to our table, as we are also both from Devon. The world is a small place, and this turned out to be someone Kathryn personally knew through horse-related living arrangements!
We will gloss over our winch fix the evening before leaving, as well as restocking the boat with fuel and food, as you readers must be bored of this by now.
Needless to say, the Azores was great fun, but the next step is the rest of the Atlantic crossing West to East, back to the South coast of the UK.
We were once again in the land of cheaper food, so decided to have another meat-filled BBQ with Blue Note, Atlas, Extress, and Escapade (who just arrived in time for the BBQ anchored outside). We fetched Escapade from the anchorage in our dinghy which was still inflated from used in Flores, and ended up leaving it with them for most of a week until they found space in the marina.
Sam and Joost contemplating meat purchasesSam BBQing
This was the first of 2 BBQs, but before the second we needed to wear off some of that food. On the morning of the scheduled low pressure, we headed up the nearest hill to a little viewpoint overlooking the harbor and town.
We used roads to get to the top, which were very steep and had many switchbacks, but as we walked along the top of the hill we found there was a nature trail and fruit tree path that we could use to walk back down to the town. And along the way, we saw many a Maderia lizard (why they are all Maderia Lizards here we don’t know).
Velas town and marinaFlower bouquet made by KathrynThree little lizards
Up next Atlas had organized 2 rental cars for us to take around the island and do some further exploring and longer hikes. The weather didn’t start off perfectly, with fog at the top of the island, so we headed to a small coffee plantation and cafe for a coffee and mini tour, before exploring the coast of the north side of the island (with the swell rolling in), and finally heading for our hike in the afternoon followed by a quick drink, and a steak dinner out in the town.
A foggy driveNorth side costal townAdam avoiding getting splashedRout of the walkWalking over a bridgeLesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Getting into the Portuguese cake spirit once again, we set off one morning in search of a cake, however, found ourselves eating a Crème brûlée for breakfast (at noon!) with a coffee/juice.
For the next two evenings on the trot, we met with Tomas and Lindy of Extress on their boat for games night, on night 1 we played Dutch Dominion and Port Royal both of which were fun card games, and along with it, we made hot chocolate with a shot of rum and tasty homemade caramelised popcorn, then on night 2 we brought over Azul, a Portuguese coloured tile game and Werewords which is a guessing game, this night we also took marshmallows over for more hot chocolate and tried an orange liqueur which Lindy had picked up from the shop earlier.
We also hiked up the hill to the west of Velas which provided another view over the town, as well as a view further west along the island over a sheer cliff edge. The hill itself was a very green caldera (a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcano eruption), so once at the “top” you would descend further into this cauldron.
Inside the calderaThe view over the cliffBlackbird in a treeKathryn looking over the cliffKathryn taking a picture over the cliff
We finished off our time in Velas with a final BBQ with at least 7 or 8 boats from the marina and anchorage. This time with 3 BBQs in attendance, and in the boat park area instead of the breakwater to protect us from the wind a little, lots of great food was eaten!
Just before this final BBQ we had also decided to sail to Horta the following day, so this also acted as a farewell BBQ, as we would be speeding along for 1 more week through the Azores before heading in the general direction of the UK with another ~10-day crossing.
But before ending this post, another highlight of this food-filled week would be the purchase of 2 packets of frozen pastel de natas for cooking onboard, and also the purchase of a blender for smoothie making!
Flores, the easternmost island of the Azores archipelago, is a captivating destination known for its stunning natural beauty. With lush valleys, dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and secluded beaches
In 2019 the Port of Lajes das Flores was partially destroyed by Hurricane Lorenzo, and efforts to rebuild are still underway. A result of this means that the harbor was not fully protected by a breakwater, and inside the harbor, there are only minimal pontoons for use. You can find some images of the destruction and plan for the future in this article.
Escapade and Saga, 2 Dutch boats we know, were already moored in the harbor and had the situation all figured out. We were not able to moor in the main body of the harbor, but were able to use the inside quay wall and also optionally the outside quay wall. Anchoring was also an option, but we really wanted to be moored!
We started off rafted up in 4 columns, and over the next few days, 3 of these rafts would be 3 boats deep, with the outermost raft being 2 deep. So 11 boats on the inside harbor quay wall. Upon leaving there were 2 boats also rafted on the quay wall next to the anchorage, and 3 more boats in the anchorage itself.
The harbor master is lovely, and after a few days of being on the quay wall, we were informed that a new rule would be in place for future boats visiting, where they would only be able to stay on the quay wall for 48 hours before needing to move on. The quay wall is high, so expect to used your dinghy to get to the ladders!
Step one for us being back on land, food (that we didn’t have to cook), and bed (that isn’t rocking around or leaning over)!
We tidied the boat, did laundry (5EUR wash and 5EUR dry), and had a lovely free warm shower.
Boats we knew continued to arrive the day after us, bringing the full list to include us, Blue Note, Extress, Saga, Escapade and Atlas.
Walking up the hill to the small supermarket we got a little taste of what the other Azorean islands were likely to look like. Rather beautiful.
Unfortunately, as we spent our first days exploring the area around the harbor, the weather forecast looked like it was going to turn and push a large low-pressure system over right over the Azores, and sending swell straight toward and probably into the Flores harbor.
Most of us decided that we wanted to leave the harbor before this weather in a few day’s time, so started planning a departure, but also a quick tour and hike around some of the most beautiful nearby locations.
We found a tour and taxi number on the wall which lead us to Sílvio Medina who is easily contactable via WhatsApp, Email, Telephone etc. After some negotiations for hike length and pickup time our Friday plan had formed. Starting with an early morning boat shuffle as some people in the rafts wanted to leave, followed by a 9:30 am pickup, driving tour of the 4 large lakes, hike to a waterfall, and back down to a town for pickup. And then, head off to the other islands overnight.
Firstly from Miradouro Lagoas Rasa e Funda we could see Lagoa Funda das Lajes and Lagoa Rasa, two lakes that are at dramatically different heights.
Next, we had another 2 large lakes, right next to each other. These were Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Comprida which are very different depths and also very different colors!
We were dropped in a car park where we could both start our main hike down into Fajã Grande, but first, hike up to a waterfall called Poço Ribeira do Ferreiro (Alagoinha). There was a beautifully maintained path to the fall, and a large still lake just beneath it.
The hike then took us through some of the greenest lands we have seen since being in the mountains of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. So many green fields, cows, European wildlife, water, and high green cliffs.
We continued down toward Fajã Grande, where we could see one boat at anchor and another that was just leaving to avoid some swell.
Just before reaching the town we stopped at one final waterfall.
Overwhelmed with our first “long” walk of the month, we headed into town to our pickup point for a burger and drink right next to the ocean.
We stopped in at the shop again on the way to the harbor, picking up some frozen pizzas for our night sail, and arrived back at the harbor at around 3pm and started getting ready to leave. We topped up our water tanks with a few jerry cans full of water, had a final on-land shower, and cast our lines to start heading on to the other islands.
After 30 minutes the lines and fenders were stowed, pizzas were in the oven, and the dolphins were back, escorting us on our night motor sail (not much wind at all).
And at the time of writing this, we are roughly 3 hours from our next port of call 🙂
This is one of our favorite anchorages in the BVIs, well protected and nice and flat, shore tieing with friends and a nice sandy bottom to land the anchor in.
We had a BBQ and bonfire on the beach. Burgers, salads, lobster, and steak.
We have had a lot of fun on SUPs and dinghies in this little bay, but we recently added fenders to the club for in-water beers.
One new addition to the dinghy fun was the invention of dinghy baseball. We were all playing so have no pictures, but let me try and paint a picture.
Take 1 SUP and 3 dinghies. The batter has a dinghy and uses a dinghy paddle to hit the ball with. The thrower is on a SUP tied to a shore tie line. The ball must be hit out into the bay and the batter must then untie and drive the dinghy around a boat and a bouy coming back to the shore tie line. The team of fielders has 2 dinghies and must retrieve the ball and get the batter out by making the ball hit them before they get back to the shore tie line. Probably not the safest sport, but very fun!
We were all running rather low on beer, but managed to grab a free 6 pack from a nearby charter catamaran 🎉, all it took was a little dinghy trip (with Tomas being towed still in his fender chair). They were however Bud Lights…
More great food was also had, we probably ate a whole pack of bacon in a day and a half across three meals. With freshly baked bread we made a magnificent breakfast sandwich. Also a bacon salad, and a tasty potato bake thingy.
The snorkeling in the bay isn’t super interesting, but the water is still, very clear and there are a few things of interest.
One thing we have recently been spotting is a turtle missing a leg!
But also these interesting little jelly things, known as “Crown Jellies”.
One not so great moment of the week was when Kathryn went into the aft cabin to get some chocolate M&Ms, and spotted a large cockroach on the ceiling. We managed to quickly catch it with a boat hook and a bowl and kill it off the boat, and while looking closely at it in the bowl we are pretty sure it was a male, so we shouldn’t have any future cockroach problems. Our only guess is that while filling up with fuel and water at the fuel dock a day or so prior it must have hopped aboard 😓.
We are writing this on the 7th May at 8am, and we have not yet checked the weather this morning, but last night it looked like we would be leaving on the 8th May (tomorrow).
It’s not ideal, with high pressures and low wind zones dominating the first week of sailing, but we should have enough wind to get going, even if we lose it in a few days. The forecasts are still quite changeable, so we will see how it goes!
The weather routing on Predict Wind still doesn’t look ideal, but at least one route on departure planning for tomorrow takes us in the direction we want to head.
Time for one last trip to the shop in Road Town, then heading to a Marina for 1 night if they have space, showers, laundry, a meal out perhaps, and then checking out and setting off in the morning!
We have been watching the weather looking for the right window to start the Atlantic crossing either to Bermuda or the Azores now for some time now, but no apparent window presented itself. So we must spend some more time exploring the BVIs!
The Little Harbour anchorage that we still occupy was slowly transforming, from our monohull haven to a catamaran party.
In fact, once our 3 monohull friends had left, they were replaced by an 80ft catamaran (that slightly blocked our sunsets 🥲)
Continuing to snorkel the bay, we had one of our best octopus encounters to date.
Octopuses can be difficult to see while snorkeling because they are masters of camouflage and have the ability to change the color and texture of their skin to blend in with their surroundings. They are also able to contort their bodies into tight spaces and hide in crevices or under rocks, making them hard to spot. In addition, octopuses are generally nocturnal creatures, so they may be less active and visible during the day when snorkeling is most common. Overall, the combination of their camouflage abilities, hiding behaviors, and nocturnal nature can make octopuses challenging to observe while snorkeling, but with patience and careful observation, it is still possible to catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures.
Just as we were about to hop back onboard Hannah after a snorkel session, we saw it! This is a Brazillian Reef Octopus.
As the day drew to a close, the folks on the 80ft catamaran next to us cracked out their electric hydrofoil board to have some fun on too.
Over the next few days, we would sail all the way around the island of Tortula, head off to a little snorkel spot for 1 night, and arrive back in Little Harbour some days later.
We once again met up with Blue Note, Extress, and now also Atlas in Brewers Bay, where we once again enjoyed a floating SUP bar near the beach.
No evidence of this SUP bar, however, there is evidence of other beach and boat-related antics.
We spent a few days in the bay, relaxing, having a beer or 2, and snorkeling around.
Flat fishElkhorn Coral – Endangered species
On our last day in the bay, a catamaran that had anchored nearby came over and gave us a bunch of their leftover food from their 2-week trip, as they were about to return the boat (what lovely people). This included desiccated coconut, wraps, red cabbage, numerous limes, potatoes, onions, sauces, seasoning, wine, sparkling wine, some tins, pasta/pasta sauces, crackers, and more…
We took these supplies and tried to split them up a bit among the other monohulls so everyone got something🙂
Even since leaving Portugal, we have had a jar of francesinha sauce that we have been meaning to use. Finally, we had all of the components together, freshly baked bread, the sauce, a strip of steak, eggs, cheese, and some other meats.
Now our creation doesn’t quite live up to the one we ate in Porto, the presentation was hard, but it was damn tasty.
Continuing to sail around Tortula we anchored near Blue Note for another night, sharing the free wine from the catamaran and finally sharing one of our “famous” tinned Fray Bentos pies with them, along with roast carrots, peas, cheesy mashed potato, onions, and gravy.
We then had a leisurely sail around to Norman Island which we had heard had some good snorkeling.
The next day we had another short sail back to Little Harbour, and the total calm and stillness of this great anchorage.
Quite unplanned, but a few minutes later, both Blue Note and Extress arrive in the anchorage as well, with Atlas arriving the following day.
Time for some more relaxing time in Little Harbour, waiting for the weather to do something… Currently, there is very little wind for multiple days on the trot, we might however be able to use this to our advantage and have a break a few days into the sail.
After our little beach party, we all wanted to move anchorage to find somewhere slightly flatter and to explore the BVIs some more. Some of our boat friends such as Danae and Vela had already spent quite some time in the BVIs and had recommended a spot called Little Harbour, come to think of it SV Zoe whom we met back in Portugal also recommended this anchorage to us, as we have a waypoint set form them.
So our little convoy set off to Little Harbour.
Despite our best efforts, Blue Note, Extress and Escapade all beat us to anchor, but no worries, there was plenty of space to anchor and tie to shore (though that wouldn’t be the case in the coming days).
Escapade put their drone up and got what might be one of our favorite shots from the whole trip so far…
The water in the BVIs is super clear, as you can see in the drone shot above. The one downside of Little Harbour is there is not much beach, and what beach there is is rather stoney.
To get around this while enjoying the cooling sea we created a floating SUP bar for 8!
Little did we know, this was the start of a magical 4 days anchored in Little Harbour, including joint meals switching between the 4 boats, and 3 day trips out all on 1 boat per day.
Outing number one took us to The Indians aboard Extress where we picked up a buoy and snorkeled around some lovely rocks. There wasn’t much wind so motored there and back again, so taking one boat really made sense!
The snorkeling here included a bit of a drop-off filled with sea life, and a cave that we could swim through.
The second outing took us to Salt Island to snorkel around a wreck. The weather for this sail wasn’t so nice, and we ended up sheltering down below aboard Escapade to hide from the rain for most of the journey to the moorings.
Once getting in the water at Salt Island we found a fairly strong current dragging us past the wreck (just about okay to swim against), but snorkeling on the wreck was quite a bit of effort and it was fairly deep.
The wreck is of the RMS Rhone, which was a Royal Mail Ship that sank in a hurricane in 1867. The size of the propeller on this wreck was rather insane.
Thirdly we headed to Road Town aboard Blue Note to visit the chandlery, throw out some trash, do some shopping, and fill up a bunch of water jerry cans. To make this easier, as we would be shopping, we actually took 3 dinghies with us!
We even managed to sail on the way back to the anchorage!
That night the dinner was Paella aboard Hannah Penn for 8, one of the largest paellas we have had to make ever, let alone on board Hannah with smaller hobs and pans. It was delicious, but we were also apparently enjoying ourselves too much to have any foody pictures.
Fun was had, and as the night continued many hats came out…
Escapade were the first boat to leave Little Harbour, setting sail once again to Saint Martin where they would be restocking, picking someone up from the airport, and also leaving for the crossing from.
Extress and Blue Note also headed off to other anchorages one by one over the coming days.
For us aboard Hannah, it’s boat job time…
Fitting the water flow switch for the UV light
Adding string to mast steps
Some of this will be covered in future posts, and we can wrap this post up with the great turtle we saw with a shark sucker on its back in the bay.
We also went snorkeling and saw some Yellowhead Jawfish under the boat. These little fish swim backward into their holes in the sand when you approach, but also have these funny little faces.
We restocked in Saint Martin before heading off, also doing laundry on land, collecting some full gas bottles and filling up jerry cans with water a couple of times. We were having so much “fun” doing these chores that we almost missed the bridge opening on the French side to let us leave the lagoon.
Just a few minutes before the bridge opened we made it into the queue, though it felt list a lot of rushing around on land, and we didn’t manage to tumble dry any of our laundry like we wanted to.
Not the most exciting of pictures, but with all of the rushing around we didn’t take many.
We headed out through the bridge at 5pm and anchored just outside so that we could start getting the boat ready including stowing the shopping, and eat some dinner before starting to sail.
The plan was to mostly run (straight downwind) all the way to the BVIs.
Ideally, we would do this with 2 headsails up, our genoa and larger ghoster, so before the sun set we also prepared the poles to keep these sails more stable and stop them from flapping around on the crossing.
There are no pictures of this amazing setup that night, however, there are some from the following morning but with the ghoster already lowered, and also some great shadow puppets on the sails from the middle of the night.
The sail itself was a breeze, setting off at around 7pm once away from the weird wind that was happening near the shore of Saint Martin we put both head sales up and wouldn’t need to adjust until after sunrise the following day.
Overnight we once again tried our 6 hour watch cycle which also worked a charm and we both managed to get plenty of sleep.
We headed straight to Spanish Town where would do all of the normal formalities checking into the country. and spent the night in the Spanish Town anchorage.
Just south of Spanish town there is a tourist attraction called “The Baths” which we were keen to explore.
The Baths are a popular tourist attraction and are known for their unique geological formations, including giant granite boulders that form natural tidal pools, tunnels, and grottoes. The area is also home to white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring.
We moved Hannah slightly down the island, anchoring around what felts like hundreds (but actually just 10s) of catamarans and swam over to the beach from which you could enter the baths.
It was great fun exploring the boulders, walkways, sandy beaches and little pools.
Off we went again, to a gathering on a beach we had organized with some other boat freinds.
In total 5 boats and 10 people were in attendance on a beach on Peter Island (Hannah Penn, Danae, Blue Note, Extress, Escapade)
Once again, there was lots of catching up to do as some of us had not seen each other in some weeks, or even months.
We did a potluck, which is where each guest brings a dish of food to share with everyone. In a potluck, the dishes are usually not coordinated or pre-planned, so guests may bring anything from appetizers to desserts. The idea is to create a shared meal where everyone contributes something, and there is usually a lot of variety and abundance of food.
There was bread, dips, pate, cheese, a cheesy spinach bake, potatoes, tuna salad, pasta and more.
And of course, there was a fire!
Much more to come from the BVIs, and we are happy to report that the night of the fire was 20th April, and at the time of writing this it is the 2nd of May, so we are nearly caught up. We might even be setting off back across the Atlantic in as little as 3 days, but only the weather can determine that!
Right after dropping off our quad bike, we headed across the lagoon by dinghy to Island water world (a chandlery) which was putting on a free seminar about a west-to-east Atlantic crossing, including free drinks and snacks, so naturally we had to attend.
We didn’t see Blue Note or Extress there, but did once again meet up with Saga who were anchored outside the lagoon on the Fench side.
The seminar was run by 2 people, one of which has done one of two crossings, but the other who has done 19 since 2003.
There were various approaches discussed by the 2 hosts and also the audience, but the one we are likely to follow (roughly already the plan) is to stick close to the Azores high so you have enough wind to sail, but you can always head further into the high to avoid any approaching low pressures.
One person in the audience promoted their option of motoring all the way through the high, this way you get lovely flat seas, but light winds and you’re going to be burning lots of fuel!! To motor 2400 miles on Hannah, we would estimate some fuel usage at around 1440 litres. This would mean something like 60 jerry cans on deck to be sure.
After the seminar, someone from Island Water World did their seemingly yearly liferaft demonstration where they set off some old and new liferafts to let people see what happens.
They lead with an old liferaft first, which experienced a similar set of malfunctions to the old liferaft that used to be aboard Hannah before we replaced it. These include tearing of the floor, tearing of some tubes, and lack of full inflation.
They also inflated a coastal liferaft. The most noticeable visible difference being the lack of an inflated roof/spray hood.
And last but not least an off-shore liferaft complete with a roof. (Obviously, there are other differences., but that’s for the technical specs of life raft manufacturers to tell you.
We had a quick beer with Saga after being in the sunshine for far too long, cruised back to the boats and started to think more about our upcoming crossing.
On recent islands, we hadn’t necessarily explored everything the islands had to offer. It’s been a long time since we rented a car, and we knew we wanted to explore Satin Martin more.
Our aim for this day was to go and see some parrots in the parrot park, we were prepared to walk the whole way, or maybe get a taxi, bus etc, but as we were walking to get some cash from an ATM we saw some quad bike rental!
For $100 USD for 24 hours, this seemed like a bargain, as it would easily get us to all of the parts of the island that we wanted to see. (Don’t worry parents, yes we had helmets and this is just a posed picture).
We lapped the whole island, but let’s take you through the journey step by step.
On the way to our parrot park, we found a lovely high viewpoint called Bell’s lookout point. Bell’s Lookout Point in Saint Martin is a popular attraction that offers stunning panoramic views of Philipsburg, the harbor, and the Caribbean Sea.
Heading further inland we made our way to Parotte Ville Bird Park, one of the main things we wanted to try and see on the island.
Neither of us has ever experienced something quite like the bird park. It’s kind of similar to a butterfly house, but bigger and for all kinds of parrots and parrot lookalikes.
You get a little cup of birdseed, and within moments of entering through the doors, you’ll have a bird perched on the edge of your cup nibbling away.
We took far too many pictures to show you them all, but here are some of our favorites…
We spent quite some time here and ate our packed lunch of tasty wraps here before continuing on a big loop of the island.
On our way we saw a rather beaten-down marina, we assume all broken due to the recent hurricane.
Looking it up online now, it’s called Oyster Pond Marina. It was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The marina suffered extensive damage to its docks, facilities, and infrastructure, and many boats and yachts were destroyed or damaged.
Continuing around the island counter-clockwise, there were many other lovely protected and shallow coves with crystal clear waters.
One of the best ways to get a view of an island is often from the highest point. (The lowest points of places are also often great, but the lagoon ticks that box)
As far as we could tell the highest point was called Pic Paradis at 424 meters. We headed straight there and encountered an interesting sign on the way…
Lucky for us we are not in a car! So we continued on our all-terrain quad bike!!!!
It turns out a quad bike was perfect for this little trail and in around 5 minutes we had made it to the top.
Once again, some great views
From the top, you can see many neighboring islands including the Saba, St. Eustatius, and Anguilla.
Also, this very interesting round marina.
We were late for a drinks gathering with Blue Note, Extress, and some other Dutch boats, so sped back down the hill as the sun set meeting them at a bar, then dinghying to a br for some food, moving to another bar, and so on… Wanting to make the most of our quad bike hire we made sure to end our night early enough to get up and do things the following day.
In the morning we got a SubWay (a rare occurrence) and headed to a beach called Maho Beach. This is a popular tourist attraction due to its unique location, as planes taking off and landing at Princess Juliana International Airport fly low over the beach, providing a thrilling experience. (You have probably seen videos of people here)
Fortunately, before needing to return the quad bike, we were able to see a plane landing.
And also taking off…
Now, that’s plenty of adventure for one blog post, so let’s leave it here with us returning the quad bike mid-way through the day!