If you know me at all, you know that I absolutely love beaches.  Of course, not all beaches are created equal.  I love the soft, white sand found on the beaches of the Florida panhandle, for example, but I prefer the crystal clear water you find in the Caribbean.  Bonus Points for a soft, sandy bottom you can walk on, but Super Bonus Points for nooks and crannies where I can snorkel.

All beaches are different yet beautiful in their own way, and I truly enjoy any moment I can spend on one – anywhere.

Traveling to St. Maarten

Even though we’re extremely frugal, we are willing to spend some money on travel from time to time.  And it’s not just because I love a good Mojito, but because we truly love seeing and enjoying different parts of the world.  It’s a big planet, and I am interested in much more than the little corner I reside in.  Plus, I tend to think it’s good for the soul, and it certainly opens my mind:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”                  – Mark Twain

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Me. In My Bathing Suit. You’re Welcome

Of course, not every trip we take is a cultural experience.  In fact, some of our trips are just sit-on-your-ass beach vacations- the type where you only move when you need a new drink.  Our recent trip to St. Maarten was a combination trip- we did a little bit of exploring, but we also did a lot of ass-sitting.  And you’ll see why in a few minutes.

 

How We Got to St. Maarten

Our trip to St. Maarten was mostly paid for with a combination of credit card rewards.  Here are the cards we used:

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Citi Advantage Platinum Select MastercardIt cost us approximately 70,000 American Airlines miles to fly round-trip from Indianapolis to St. Maarten, plus around $167 in government-mandated taxes and fees.  To earn the miles, we both signed up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®. For this card, you’ll earn a 30,000 mile sign up bonus for spending $1,000 in 3 months.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Capital One Spark Cash for BusinessWe own a few different businesses, each with their own TID number, which allowed us to apply for a few different Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business cards. On each card, we earned a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 90 days. So, we paid for our hotel stays using cash back from these cards. Again, keep in mind that offers are constantly changing and you should check the bonus before applying.



Trip Details (and Photos)

We left Indianapolis early on January 7th, the day after my birthday, and arrived in St. Maarten at approximately 2:00 p.m.  Our hotel was right next to the airport, so we only needed to grab our luggage and go.  Twenty minutes later, we were checking into our room at the Sonesta Ocean Point All-Inclusive Resort.  Here is a picture of the view off of our balcony:

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Not only did we have an awesome view, but our room was pretty swank as well.  But due to the reservations and the agreement we made before we left, we moved over to the other property on the compound, the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, on our third day.  We didn’t have much of a view in that room, but we had been upgraded to a suite with a living room.  Not sure what that was about, but I seriously enjoyed it!

We spent the next several days watching the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, watching the cruise ships saunter by, and of course, watching the planes as they landed at the airport next door.  Here are a few pictures from the first few days:

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After being lazy for a few days, we eventually worked up enough energy to get off of the resort.  First, we started by walking the half mile or so to Mullet Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in my life.  There, we snorkeled and saw all kinds of ocean life, watched really drunk people from the cruise ships jump off of giant catamarans, and continued being lazy.  Here are some pictures of Mullet Bay:

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The next day, we took a $2 bus ride into the capital of the Dutch side of St. Maarten, Phillipsburg.  It was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been – even though it was practically crawling with tourists.  We didn’t do much in Phillipsburg aside from some shopping and people-watching, but I did take some really awesome pictures, including this one:

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After we got back from Phillipsburg, we spent some more time watching the planes come in:

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The next morning, we got up bright and early to go on a professional snorkeling tour.  It was the highlight of our trip!  Not only did we swim with the fishes and some beautiful sea turtles, but we also visited the amazing and breathtaking Pinel Island and drank at a bar that was literally in the water:

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We started considering travel hacking to St. Maarten after I discovered some super-awesome reward flights on American. Here's how we made it there!Wrapping Up

We had a ton of fun traveling to St. Maarten, and I would definitely go back.  However, I would really like to bring the kids along and maybe even rent a condo instead of staying at a resort next time.

I loved both Sonesta resorts, and highly recommend them to anyone visiting the area.  The food was the best food I have ever had at an all-inclusive resort so far, as evidenced by my chipmunk cheeks in every picture.  And the drinks weren’t bad either – you can trust that because I taste-tasted nearly all of the alcohol on the premises.

We had a blast and will definitely be back.  I miss it already, but I’m glad to be back home with my family.
Remember, you can take the same trip using the cards at the top of this post. You can also contact me for help at my “Free Rewards Advice” page!



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