It was a sunny yet breezy morning when my friend and I boarded one of the two catamarans from Pyratz Gourmet Sailing. This was my second adventure with this charter company, but my first time sailing to the neighboring island of Anguilla with them. The excitement to sail with Pyratz again was definitely in the air, but I was also a bit uneasy. It was an untypical windy day, and wind means choppy waters, especially in the channel between St. Maarten and Anguilla. And I am the queen of motion sickness, who in her rush to make it to the boat on time, forgot to pack her seasickness tablets. Oops! This was definitely going to be an interesting day.
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Everything in this article is based on my own opinion and experiences.
At this point of the story I think it is pertinent to tell you though that choppy waters is not an everyday thing here. Most of the time the water between and around St. Maarten and Anguilla is perfectly calm and thus perfect for sailing. But at the time of this article, the region was seeing an uncharacteristic drop in temperature and a rise in windspeed. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.
Our captain for the day was Pierre, a charming (and might I add, good looking) young French man. He, along with the hostess Agata or Aggy for short, completed the crew of two. One thing that always amazes me about Pyratz is their level of service. It is definitely 5-star and beyond. From the moment you step foot on board the boat, to the the time you are safely back on the dock in Simpson Bay, you are treated like royalty and waited on hand and foot. And it doesn’t matter whether you are on a shared cruise or a private one, with just you and your closest friends. I’ve done both and can seriously tell you that the service is top notch every single time. I mean, to the point that the captain brought me my mojito to shore where I was sunbathing. But I’m jumping ahead here.
Booking details at the end of this story.
After exchanging hellos and pleasantries with the other guests -total strangers at this point of the story-, and a quick introduction and safety briefing by the captain, we were off. Destination: the gorgeous beach of Little Bay in Anguilla. It’s a beach I have been to many times before. After all, Anguilla is my “Happy Place” and an island I know very well. Which is why I was especially enthusiastic about this particular sailing trip with Pyratz.
We happily chatted, while munching on breakfast, which was already on the table by the time we late-comers arrived. It was a whole spread of deliciousness. French pastries, juices, mimosas, tea, coffee, toast, a variety of fresh fruits and spreads. The homemade coconut spread was my absolute favorite.
By the time we were done devouring our first meal on board, the boat hit the channel and things got a bit rocky for a while. Remember how I said I am the queen of seasickness? This means that I know my way around boats and what to do in case of a rocking boat. I went to the bow of the boat and plopped myself down on the comfy cushions to stare at the horizon and feel the salty breeze in my face. Aggy was by my side in no time to take my drink order. As much as I wanted to live it up and take advantage of the open bar that came with this day-long cruise, and knowing how delicious Pyratz’ top-shelf cocktails really are, I went with a ginger ale instead. I was so worried that a bit of alcohol would make the lovely breakfast I just had, make an emergency exit through the same way it went in.
To reach the beach of Little Bay we had to go around Anguilla to the Atlantic side of the island. Here is where I completely forgot to stare at the horizon, and was just captivated by Anguilla’s shoreline. Seasickness took a momentary backseat in my brain. We sailed passed the natural arch, the steep cliffs of West End, some of the stunning beaches Anguilla is so known for, like Barnes Bay, Meads Bay, Sandy Ground and Crocus Bay, as well as ultra luxurious resorts like the Four Seasons, Malliouhana and Quintessence. I was so busy taking in the view and talking to the other passengers about Anguilla, that I didn’t even notice that we were approaching Little Bay.
Little Bay is a small cove, with usually very calm waters. It is a favorite stop by most of the boat charter companies in the area. Probably because it is only accessible by boat. Unless of course you want to climb your way down the steep cliff by a rope, which is another attraction on its own, or kayak/paddle your way there from neighboring Crocus Bay. Little Bay is also a great for snorkeling, turtle spotting and is well liked by dare devils who like to jump from the popular rock in the middle of the bay. The cliffs and massive caves surrounding the bay, only add to the allure of this secluded beach. This is where we were going to spend the day. Not bad at all.
The captain dropped anchor and Aggy helped get the water toys into the water. Since we’re on the subject, Pyratz comes fully equipped with a lily pad, kayaks, paddle boards and snorkel gear. Let the fun begin. The around St. Maarten day cruise, by the way, is also très fun. But I’ll leave my comments on this particular day-trip option for the summary at the end of this tale, where you will also find the video I made of that experience.
Back on board Pyratz, we were getting ready to go ashore. But before we did, out came the late morning snacks. Chips, bread and homemade dips so delicious I wanted to spend the rest of my day on the boat exercising my right arm: Grab. Dip. Eat. Repeat. Pyratz’s homemade Guacamole was exactly as I remembered from the first cruise I did with them: Sinfully delicious. Speaking of homemade, all cocktails, meals and snacks are prepared on board by the multi-talented crew. I did tell you the level of service here is exceptional.
To get to shore we had a few options. We could kayak, paddle or take the lazy route and let the captain take us by dinghy. A guest and myself decided to share a kayak, while my friend and the other guests settled for the dinghy ride and leisurely sat back to be taken ashore by captain Pierre, who was nice enough to bring the mojito I forgot on board. We spent a few hours on this beautiful and idyllic little beach, sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming and just having a great time. When it was time for lunch captain Pierre picked us up by dinghy while another guest took the kayak back to the boat. I mean, the luxury.
Back on board, the grill was on and Aggy was ready to prepare our drinks of choice before going back in the galley to prepare the first course of our 3-course lunch. The captain put on his apron and temporarily switched from captain to chef. He expertly grilled some lobsters and helped Aggy prepare our delicious meals, while we lazied around the boat and on the lily pad. Before we knew it lunch was served. It was as good or even better than what was described on the pre-boarding questionnaire we received a few days before the trip, and it came paired with delicious wine.
The first course was a starter trilogy of green papaya and mango salad, watermelon and chorizo and a fish terrine cucumber roll with mint yogurt. Since I’m a pescatarian, my trilogy was slightly adapted to my taste and preference. For the entree I chose the vegetarian option, simply because I am a huge animal friend and don’t like the way lobsters are killed. My Entree of choice was the chickpea croquetas and they were simply Ah-Mah-Zing. Judginlg by the super clean plates at the end of lunch, I think the others all really enjoyed their lobster.
Next, it was time to slowly start making our way back to St. Maarten so that we could catch the Simpson Bay bridge, but not before another beach stop. This time it was Meads Bay, one of my personal favorites. I jumped from the top deck of the boat into that crystal clear water, and lounged on the lily pad with a drink, before captain Pierre took a small group of us to shore. We walked the beach, marveling at the softness of the sand and the beauty of our surroundings. What a great day to be alive.
Capture the perfect moments of a perfect day out on the water with my preferred waterproof camera.
Dessert was served on board just before the anchor was lifted and the journey back began. We devoured the homemade chocolate chip cookie with locally made vanilla ice cream, shaved almonds and chocolate sauce, while reminiscing on the perfect day we just had. We made it back to St. Maarten and lined up to go through the bridge just as the sun started to set. Once in the lagoon, we cruised passed the mega yachts at the different marinas and enjoyed one last cocktail before our sad goodbyes from Pierre and Aggy and the other guests, who by now became friends.
I can honestly say that Pyratz Gourmet Sailing is my preferred all-inclusive charter boat company on St. Maarten. Sailing with them gives you the feeling that you are on your own private charter boat, which you actually are but with super yacht service. Besides the excellent service, the different itineraries offered and the level of the drinks and food on board, the company is also sustainable and environmentally conscious. The boat is powered by the solar panels, guests can enjoy the complimentary REEF-SAFE sunscreen provided on board, only reusable cups are used and the drinks come with eco-friendly straws, and the food ingredients are locally and regionally sourced. Sustainability and the environment are super important to me as a responsible traveler, and I cannot tell you how at peace I felt throughout the entire trip, knowing that I needn’t worry about potentially hurting the environment with my presence.
Both the private charter and the shared charter were great. If you have the money, by all means, go for the private charter. But if you’d rather not spend that much and you don’t mind making new friends, then go for the shared option. While the Anguilla trip was great, I personally liked the around St. Maarten trip best. Maybe because the one I went on was private, but I think mostly because I’m the kind of person that rather be on a boat that is anchored in a beautiful bay for the majority of the day instead of spending a lot of time actually sailing. Which reminds me. The Anguilla itinerary is not usually offered on shared charters. So, make sure you ask about it before booking.
Another must-love about Pyratz is that their charters are for max 8 persons, whether shared or private, and that to me makes all the difference. The crew can pamper each guest in the small group and the guests can truly connect with one another should they want to. There is also enough space on the boat for everyone and at no time does it feel crowded. Regardless of whether you opt for a shared or private charter, around St. Maarten, Anguilla or St. Barth, you will have an exceptional experience. I had a fabulous day with Pyratz and each experience, while completely different, was truly memorable. Pyratz will see me back again and again. That’s for sure, and who knows, maybe we will get to share a day trip on board one day.
Make sure to stop at Pyratz shop at the end of your day with them to browse and support local artisans.
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