Saint Martin or Sint Maarten is an island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300km east of Pueto Rico and less than four hours flying time from New York. It is approximately 67km2 with the island geographically split 40%/60% between the Netherlands and France. Although the Netherlands has a smaller proportion of the island they have more inhabitants (38,927 apparently). So that explains why the Island has two names, but what has that got to do with Stand Up Paddle ?
Well recently Oswen Corbel, the owner of www.caribbeanpaddling.com got in touch to tell us all about the island and the fantastic opportunities it presents for SUP. The pictures are stunning, but I will let Oswen tell you all about it:
St Martin counts 34 beaches, which feature mangrove areas, wave surfing and flatwater. The best SUP place to start is in the Marine Park, in the North East of the French side. Between December and March, the winter tradewinds come and it's a good place for windsurfing and kitesurfing. It's also the high season for the cruiseships and tourists. The rest of the year, the wind calms down, and it's time to paddle! Without the rush of the tourists, it is very quiet. St Martin/St Maarten has got tons of terrific stand up paddling places. SUP is not really developped so there are lots of new beaches and areas to explore, and you can rent easily some baords and paddles without any problem.
Pinel Island is a well-known destination in St Martin. It's a flatwater place, with a sandbar where you can paddle safely with the family and observe pelicans, stingrays and turtles. It is one of the best places on St Martin. If you decide to go to Pinel Island, you'll find 3 restaurants, 3 beaches and panoramic views. This island is in the Marine Park and it's protected.
Go to the Galion bay and surf almost all the year! Be careful because of the reef bar and the other surfers, it's a little busy!! Show respect and be friendly to the locals.
Try Wilderness, the most radical surf spot on the island where you can surf in the heart of the marine park. In this high-protected place, you surf with nature alongside you. A challenging wave, but amazing!!
Caye Verte, which is also in the Marine Park, has waves that are small and easy. Get to the ocean side of the beach, and you can sit on the sand, with an amazing view of Tintamarre Island and St Barthelemy Follow the cliffs at Red Bay and SUP under the natural arches and meet the barracuda, owner of the place.
Plum Bay is another great spot for SUP. It has an easy longboard wave which is perfect for SUP surfing, all in front of beautiful billionaires houses.
Oswen Corbel is a owner of Caribbean Paddling, located at Cul de Sac, thebest place to go to paddle on Pinel Island. As a sea lover, windsurfer, kayaker and stand up paddler he came to the island of St Martin 3 years ago. After a season in Orient Bay also known as the "St Tropez of the Caribbean", he decided to create his own company. His goal is to provide gear to explore the best places, with an ecological conscience.