As a guesthouse owner I make it my duty to make sure all of my guests feel welcome and at home when staying with us. Every so often someone checks in and it immediately clicks. These are the guests I tend to take under my wing, like a mother goose wanting to show them what a beautiful island I call home. I don’t do it for money, I don’t do it for great reviews, although these are ever so welcome. I do it purely because I love this little rock and want the world to appreciate it as well.
The Back Bay trail is one of those St. Maarten beauties few people know about and fewer even get to experience. Although I am hoping this would change after you read this post. I fell in love with this hike after my neighbors, sweethearts that they are invited me and a friend to go hiking with them a year and a half ago. Yes, you read that right. I’ve only recently discovered this trail myself.
Having never been hiking in my life before that day I was ill prepared. The copious amount of alcohol I drank at a party the night before did not really help the situation, but I was determined and desperate to experience something new on St. Maarten. I kept my head up (down would have undoubtedly brought up whatever my stomach still had left in it), stuck a smile on my face and started a hike that would change how I saw this little rock.
Located on the East coast of the island, Back Bay and Geneva Bay are accessible via a path either from Guana Bay or from Point Blanche, two upper middle class neighborhoods. As a visitor these are not areas you would visit and so the trail is hard to find for those who do not call St. Maarten home.
I met up with my guests and friend Neil and we all drove together to Point Blanche. Starting the hike to the natural pool is the easiest and shortest from this point. Since my guests also wanted to spend some time on the beach, we decides to do the short version rather than the hour or so hike from Guana Bay.
My guests were instantly enchanted with the views the trail offered. On one side the rough ocean with views of St. Barth in the distance and the other, beautiful hills covered with tall grass and the most stunning of rocks.
The 20 minute hike took us via a small path, along steep cliffs with rough waters below, pelicans that dove in for treasures, the occasional goat rushing off after we had interrupted its breakfast and iguanas soaking up the sun, enjoying the sea breeze.
There was salt in the air, a gentle yet steady breeze wafting the smell of the ocean in our faces. There is a sense of freedom on this trail. A sense of hope that no matter how hard things can get, there is still much beauty to admire.
We reached a big open space just as the sun went to hide behind a screen of clouds. My big reveal temporarily ruined, I stalled as much as I could before introducing my guests to the natural pool below. It is so much more beautiful when the sun shines on the water, creating the illusion of diamonds shining in the light.
We were the only ones there. It was just the waves crashing onto the rocks surrounding the pool, a lone sailing boat in the distance and the four of us. Not a goat, iguana or person in sight. My plan to leave early to beat the heat of the pre-afternoon sun paid off in more ways than I thought.
The descend to the pool can be precarious but beautiful. The way the rocks are shaped here is almost like steps leading to bliss. Bliss in the form of a refreshing dip in the slightly cool water of the pool after a hike in the sun.
The day before the hike I took my guests to get special water shoes. There are quite some sea urchins hiding in plain sight in and around the rocky walls of the pool. This makes it difficult to get out of the water if you don’t pay attention to where you place your hands and feet. Mother goose that I am, I wanted them to be prepared.
Like I thought the water was super refreshing and a tad cool since it’s only March. Islanders will understand what I mean with this statement but for all of you non-islanders reading this right now, March means the water is cold, at least it is for us island peeps used to real warm water. Anyway, back to our regular programming……My guests enjoyed the pool even though they were a bit hesitant to get in at first.
After a nice little dip it was back to the car via the same way we came in. If you have done this trail before you know it is not exactly without danger. The trail runs closely to the edge of rocky cliffs and there is always the possibility of sliding on small rocks or tripping on one. Caution needs to be heeded at all times.
The short version of the Back Bay hike from Point Blanche, like the longer version starting from Guana Bay is stunning even with the garbage you encounter along the route. It is a shame that we humans leave behind our ugly prints wherever we go. While I encourage and even advise everyone to take a bottle of water and some fresh fruits or energy bars along this hike, it is important that we all remember that the only reason we enjoy this hike so much is for the natural wonders and beauty we see along the way. Don’t ruin it for me or others who actually enjoy St. Maarten’s nature. Take your trash with you and for F’s sake, leave the urchins alone. I’ve seen at least once how someone had the audacity to pick one up and kill it just to see what it looks like on the inside. Have a little respect for the nature the island has to offer, this includes its prickly little inhabitants.
The hike to the natural pool is a must for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Should you be visiting the island of St. Maarten anytime soon, make sure to make this hike a part of your itinerary.
What is your favorite hiking trail wherever you are? Who knows? Perhaps I’ll get the chance to enjoy your favorite hike when I get to visit your neck of the woods.
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