December 28, 2017 – After arriving in Sint Maarten on Wednesday evening and settling into my digs at the Azure Hotel, I awoke on Thursday to the sound of waves crashing on the beach of Simpson Bay. Today I’m planning to tour the island and get a sense for how things are doing in nearly every area.
The first stop was to pick up my friend, SXM Angie, in Oyster Pond. She was kind enough to volunteer her time to show me around and give me insights into what progress has been made since Irma. Our first stop was Orient Village and Orient Beach. That’s what I’ll be covering in this post. I’ll publish separate posts for Grand Case and the Maho area.
When we pulled into Orient Village, things looked pretty good. There were a few restaurants and businesses in the area open, more working hard to get opened, and a small few that looked like they hadn’t yet been touched.
As we pulled up to Orient Beach the view was stunning, as usual. For all the damage caused by Irma to man-made structures and some of the foliage, it’s almost as if the storm was a type of cleansing for the beaches and nature itself. Nature certainly works in mysterious ways and sometimes we, as people and observers, don’t always get to know it’s plan.
We’ve looked at some of the damage that occurred on Orient Beach in a prior post, so I don’t think it’s necessary, or useful, to dwell on it or re-state what’s already been shared. The one thing I want to convey is the natural raw beauty of the beach.
For the most part, the Dutch side of the island is in better shape than the French side. That much is certainly true and noticeable. The French side got hit harder by Irma and the Dutch side benefited greatly from the assistance of the Dutch government as they helped to clean up and start the rebuild process. So that will be a recurring theme in my posts.
While the sand and water of Orient Beach look great, many of the wrecked beach bars and shops still lay waiting to be cleared off the beach. On the beach, there is at least 15 meters (around 50 feet) of clear clean beach with no debris. So plenty of space to hang out and relax.
Our friend, Luiz, was the only shop open on the entire beach, with his lovely bright green shack that serves not only as his shop, but also his home. He’s selling some beautiful, brightly colored beach wraps and tapestries, so be sure to swing by and say ‘hello’ if you go. He’s next to where Pedro’s used to be.
Next to Luis it looked like someone had set up a makeshift bar, although it wasn’t open when we were there. There was a drink menu and prices, it was great and I really wish it was open because I could’ve used a Carib!
As I mentioned above, there is still some wreckage and trees that need to be cleared but they are well off the actual beach area. You can see more in this video below. Orient Beach must be approached from Orient Village as the side road (where the butterfly farm was) is still closed.
Where you pull up to Orient Beach via the village, the first area you come across are the volleyball courts. That area, as you can see in the photo above, is clear of debris and there’s lots of space to hang out and set up towels. You’ll need to bring a cooler and some towels of your own, but that’s a minor inconvenience for the complete and utter beauty you’ll experience while you’re there.
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