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Old 24-06-2015, 21:38   #1
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BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

Planning another bareboat island trip this fall. Been to the BVI a few times. Usual 7-10 day loop out of Tortola hitting multiple islands including Anegada and Jost VD.

Been to Sint Maarten before - on the island and close offshore helping run a World Champs regatta but not sailing around.

Looking at doing the BVI again or exploring the possibilities of St Maarten/Anguilla/St Barths.

Timeframe is last week of Oct or first week of Nov.

Would like some opinions.

How does the sailing compare?

How do the onshore sites and activities compare?

Appreciate your feedback.

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Old 24-06-2015, 21:59   #2
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

We've done quite a bit of sailing in both locations as well. I'd say that if you've done the BVI check out St. Martin/ St. Barts next.... more to come...
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Old 24-06-2015, 22:18   #3
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

The BVI definitely have some amazing places but after many trips there we were excited to experience other places. We spend a few weeks in St. Martin (both sides) and also went to St. Barts and the islands in between. Those "in between" islands were the most amazing! Ile Fourchue was absolutely beautiful... beautiful water, amazing hikes, just gorgeous!



However, it is uninhabited (as far as we could tell) so if you prefer the shopping, bars and restaurants skip this one and go straight to St. Barths. This is also a really amazing place but for different reasons. The ships you'll see there are unbelievable. There is a beautiful beach on the south coast in Governor's Bay (Anse de Gouverneur). This is a paradise to visit during the day. However, there is a note on the Navionics charts to not stay there overnight... believe it! We risked it and it was one of the roughest nights of our years of sailing! But definitely worth a daytime stop.

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Old 24-06-2015, 22:51   #4
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

The French Islands are a womans paradise... The food, the shopping.... Don't let your wife off the boat with a credit card. Mind you, she may like you jus a little bit more.
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Old 24-06-2015, 23:44   #5
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

Also consider the Grenadines. All have their pluses and minuses.


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Old 25-06-2015, 10:01   #6
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

When we first started chartering 15 years ago, we loved the BVI. Since then, they have become much more crowded, and frankly the attraction has waned.

We love Saint Martin (the French side). There is wonderful availability of world-class cheese and wines, and the restaurants are fantastic. You don't have to spend a fortune, either -- there is outstanding inexpensive BBQ in Grand Case.

From Saint Martin, it is an easy sail to Anguilla, with some fabulous beaches. Its more or less free to anchor in Road Bay, though you have to pay some fees to use other anchorages. We found Road Bay a great gateway to the island.

Its also a pleasant sail to St. Barts. We always enjoy strolling up and down marina, looking at the boats owned by the 0.01%. Another place for terrific French food.

From St. Barts, its not a bad sail to Nevis, one of our favorite islands in the Eastern Caribbean. Lots and lots of nature, hiking galore.

So I would definitely recommend venturing beyond the BVI. You'll love it!
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Old 25-06-2015, 10:10   #7
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

We sailed out of Tortola and spent 12 wonderful days in the BVI. It is everything you would want in a great vacation and more. Sailing by sight if you are newer to sailing gives confidence and the ease of getting around made it a great trip.

Both places are great, just had a great time in the BVI
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Old 25-06-2015, 10:21   #8
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

While all the comments re: SM-Anguilla-St. Barts are on target, I'd second the suggestion for Nevis - and add Saba, St. Kitts and Montserrat to the suggestion. You might need special permission to go there if chartering out of SM, and maybe want more time than the usual 7-10 days, though. Perhaps charter out of Antigua for those areas. All depends upon what you're looking for - if restaurants, nightlife, shopping, beautiful people, SM/A/SB....but if volcanoes, rainforests, hiking etc. - go to the higher volcanic islands. Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, Dominica.....and Martinique has great combo of both the French culture, shopping, restaurants AND volcanoes, waterfalls.....and rhum distilleries (lots of them). Did I mention rum distilleries? DePaz, on the slopes of Mont Pelee, is my favorite....
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Old 26-06-2015, 01:05   #9
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

After living aboard and sailing BVI to St Lucia then to Florida 20 yrs ago-About 10 yrs ago we chartered from St Martin and sailed to St Brths and around for a few days before sailing overnight to Bvi. You need permission to do night sailing and you need to pay for a captain to take the vessel back to SM via the OhMyGoda (aka Anegada )passage. It's a very uncomfortable bash! What a great way to spend 10-14 nights! I also recommend Nevis , St kitts, Montseratt. The recommendation to do the Grenadines is good but you don't get as comfortable anchorages at night compared to the BVI and SM
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Old 26-06-2015, 11:40   #10
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

Ran charter boats in both areas for years. With 7-10 days, limit yourself to St Martin, Anquila and St Barths. Do it in a clockwise direction starting in St Martin. Cruise around Anguila's west end, exiting on the east to east coast of St Martin to Isle Forche to St Barths. Then back to SXM's west coast. Many lovely achorages and places of interest on both SXM and Anguila Rent a mini moke in St Barths and tour the island. Stop at La Cave Winery for Wine tasting. Have lunch at one of the fabulous restaurants.
This area is much more diverse and interesting than the BVI. Dutch,English and French culture and St Barths is one of the Gems of the Caribbean.
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Old 26-06-2015, 11:59   #11
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

Why not really change it up and go to the Ionian's in Greece? After being here, I'd really be hard pressed to spend money on a charter in the Caribbean.

FYI,
There are a lot of previous threads on St. Maarten bareboating. Try searching with the Google search option. Also, if you are dead set on chartering from Tortola, maybe think about the Spanish Virgins.
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Old 26-06-2015, 12:04   #12
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

Can't really comment on St. Martin, but if you do the BVI again, don't do the usual 7-10 day loop... do something different. Rent a car and tour Virgin Gorda, spend a couple days in St. John..etc. Visit stops you've never been too.. We've been over a dozen times and keep finding new things.


I've also been to St. Lucia and from there down to the Tobago Cays and back. It was fun - very different, but just as enjoyable. For us we love to dive and the diving is great in the BVI with lots of options and great guide books and lots of places to fill up. Easier than St. Lucia..etc looked to be.
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Old 19-07-2015, 10:34   #13
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Re: BVI vs Sint Maarten - Experienced Opinions needed

FWIW: We bought, moved onto our boat in BVI in Sept 2014 (Tortola). Stayed in the BVI then went West to St. John, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico until Jan 2015. Then back to St. Thomas and into BVI again in March 2015. Then St. Martin for a month and then down the islands towards Grenada. So, I've lived in all those places aboard our catamaran. We've seen a great many charterers in all places.
Just some thoughts being there and not having an agenda:
1. BVI is incredibly safe. We never once locked a dinghy until we got to St. Martin where every day on the radio net there were warnings of dinghy thefts. I really enjoyed that feeling in BVI of safety since we have kids onboard.
2. St. Marten/Sint Maarten has a lot to offer but we did not enjoy the Simpson's Bay experience. If you charter get out and go somewhere. Orient Bay is a water sports paradise. Lots of clean water up north there.
3. Take your time. Try not to have an agenda and just enjoy the time wherever you are at the moment.
If I had only a couple weeks I would go to BVI. I would go across to St. John. We have not seen cleaner, clearer, more aquatic life outside BVI and St. Thomas/St. John. and going between the two is trivial. St. Martin is rougher water and less choices for calm anchoring/mooring and much less safer when it comes to petty crimes. We never had any crimes against us but when in St. Marten that's all we heard about. Every dinghy is locked and everyone is on guard, boats locked up when unattended and boaters weary of being boarded at night or when they are away. Sad really as St. Martin is a nice place in many places. Just the French side that had all the potential had the most issues which was not so nice.
Either way you decide you will enjoy it although I suspect you will be more relaxed in the BVI or USVI.
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