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St. Maarten, St. Martin

On-Site St. Martin: Quickie A.M. Hike to Baie De Petites Cayes

There’s a secret beach just a short hike over that mountain…

Wait, wait, wait… Hiking? In St. Martin?!

I must admit that excursions in the bush were pretty far from my mind when I arrived at the sweet Riu Palace Resort St. Martin a few weeks ago. After all, St. Martin (or St. Maarten, for that matter) isn’t exactly synonymous with eco-adventures.

The fun here tends to center on partying. On the sea, with or without clothes, at the airport – there’s always a fete somewhere around here.

The comfy surrounds at the Riu (and this cocktail) further conspired to limit my fun to more relaxed activities. I mean, would you be in a hurry to hike over a mountain in 90-degree heat to check out a beach when these sandy shores are sitting just a few steps from your room?

The beach at the fab Riu Palace Resort St. Martin | SBPR
The beach at the fab Riu Palace Resort St. Martin | SBPR

Of course you would, you’re an uncommon traveler!

Plus, that pretty beach near your room isn’t going anywhere, and the beach just over that mountain hill is supposed to be secret… What’s not to like?

Well, if you get on the trail any bit after 6:30am you may not enjoy the experience at all, and not just because of the increased heat as the day wears on.

Turns out the secret beach hike isn’t really all that secret after all. On our way back just after 8am, we ran into a few different groups of adventurers all just starting out on the trek. If you want the secret beach all to yourself, you’ll have to start on your way very early.

Exactly where you’ll want to start is here…

Secret Beach Trail Sign | SBPR
Secret Beach Trail Sign | SBPR

Walking out from the entrance to the Riu and up the steep hill that leads away from the property, we took our first left and headed straight as the pavement gave way to a gravel road. The sign above sits in a small parking area that was right in our path. A chain drawn across the roadway prevents cars from advancing any further.

Staying on the gravel roadway, the steadily rising sun awoke the resort in the bay below us to the left…

Initial steps on the Secret Beach Trail | SBPR
Initial steps on the Secret Beach Trail | SBPR

Eventually we came across a wider clearing with a water purification center and this rather uninviting-looking work area…

Do not enter? Yeah, don't worry... | SBPR
Do not enter? Yeah, don’t worry… | SBPR

Just to the right of the closed fence and more debris, though, we found the small entrance to the trail…

Secret Beach Trail Head | SBPR
Secret Beach Trail Head | SBPR
Entrance to Secret Beach Trail | SBPR
Entrance to Secret Beach Trail | SBPR

Oh yeah, this was about to get good!

Almost immediately, the incline steepened sharply, the trail taking us straight up over reasonably rocky terrain, cacti, birch trees, and wild mimosa framing our way…

It's a steep and rocky upward climb | SBPR
It’s a steep and rocky upward climb | SBPR
Careful with the cacti... | SBPR
Careful with the cacti… | SBPR

It was easy to know what plants we were looking at along the trail thanks to informative signs like this…

Signage along the trail | SBPR
Signage along the trail | SBPR

It only took us only 20 minutes to reach the summit of the hill. For our accomplishment we were rewarded with this view…

Looking down on Baie de Petite Cayes, St. Martin | SBPR
Looking down on Baie de Petite Cayes, St. Martin | SBPR

Down below, Le Baie de Petites Cayes, the secret beach.

It was just another 10-12 minutes before we took our initial steps onto the beach, ours among the first footprints made in the sand here that day…

Secret Beach Footprints | SBPR
Secret Beach Footprints | SBPR
Initial steps onto Baie de Petites Cayes | SBPR
Initial steps onto Baie de Petites Cayes | SBPR

And oh what sand! In a word, it’s perfect, easily among the softest I’d felt underfoot anywhere.

The cool and refreshing surf was a bit rough, but very welcoming after the warm hike. If you’re not that strong of a swimming, though, I’d recommend sticking on the shore here. The current is pretty strong and there are lots of rocks lining the beach unseen where the waves meet the sand, making it tricky to get in and out of the water.

Early Morning, Baie de Petites Cayes, St. Martin | SBPR
Early Morning, Baie de Petites Cayes, St. Martin | SBPR

A barefoot stroll along this pristine shore, though, is plenty nice enough… especially if you wake up early enough to have it all to yourself…

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